top-rated free essay

Aristotle's Metaphysical Theory

By Stephnie95 Feb 18, 2013 962 Words
Metaphysics is defined as “The study or theory of reality; sometimes used more narrowly to refer to transcendent reality, that is, reality which lies beyond the physical world and cannot therefore be grasped by means of the senses.” It simply asks what is the nature of being? Metaphysics helps us to reach beyond nature as we see it, and to discover the `true nature' of things, their ultimate reason for existing. metaphysics can be approached in many ways. two important thinkers of metaphysics are Plato and Aristotle. Aristotle grew from being Plato's pupil to being an independent thinker and rival. Plato was an inside/out philosopher as opposed to Aristotle’s outside/in thinking. This simply means that Plato developed his ideas from within and applied them to the outside world. Conversely, Aristotle took the views from the world around him and applied them within. These different approaches to metaphysics lead to the issue of Aristotle’s imminent reality versus Plato’s dualistic, transient reality. Plato’s thoughts tended to believe in two levels of reality. Plato held that metaphysics is dualistic: he proposed that there are two different kinds of things - physical and mental. There is what appears real and what is real. Plato believed that everything real takes on a form but doesn't embody that form. on the other hand, Aristotle’s beliefs lead to him seeing only one level of reality. He felt there was only one imminent world and that forms existed within particular things. Aristotle held that form had no separate existence and existed in matter. in nature, we never find matter without form or form without matter. substance is always a composition of form and matter. Forms are unmoving and indivisible. What sense would it make to suppose that they might move or be physically divided? Only Forms are truly real. A thing is beautiful only to the extent it participates in the Form beauty; it is round only if it participates in the Form roundness. Likewise a thing is large only if it participates in the form largeness. The same principle holds for all of a thing's properties. Thus, a large, beautiful, round thing - would not be beautiful, large, or round if the forms beauty, largeness, and roundness did not exist. Furthermore, Aristotle saw only four ultimately basic questions that could applied to anything, or as he called them, four causes: the formal cause, or what is the thing?; the material cause, or what is it made of?; the efficient cause, or what made it?; and the final cause, or what purpose does it serve? In Aristotle’s Metaphysics, he discusses what he believes to be the theory of origin. One must differentiate Aristotle’s theory with that of creation. The word “creation” implies a biblical idea. Aristotle was not familiar with the biblical text and therefore did not understand the concept of “creation” in the biblical sense. Rather he was more interested in the “origin[->0]” of the world. Aristotle[->1] believes that before the concept of time there were three kinds of substances[->2], two of them being physical and one being the unmovable. The three substances can be described as one being the “sensible eternal”, the second being the “sensible perishable” and the third substance being the immovable. To further this theory the sensible perishable can be seen as matter, the sensible eternal as potential, and the immovable can be seen as that which is Metaphysical and belongs to another science. According to Aristotle, the immovable is God. It is the immovable that sets the sensible perishable into motion and therefore turns the potential into the actual. This theory is Aristotle’s belief that something can not come out of nothing. Aristotle says, “How will there be movement, if there is no actually existing cause?…The seeds must act on the earth and the semen on the menstrual blood”. What he is saying is that something must be set into motion by something else. There is always a cause to an effect. One relies on the other. Therefore, before origin there must have been an “immovable mover”, that being God. Aristotle believes that there are four kinds of changes: What, Place, Quality and Quantity. For example, a pen is by definition the object, it has a position and takes up space, it exists for a period of time and has shape and size. These external characteristics can and will change. According to Aristotle, everything changes. Therefore the pen has potential to move, to change color and size. When it changes from a state of how it is perceived, otherwise known as potential, to a state of what it can be, it has reached a state of actuality. According to Aristotle, this theory can be applied to the origin of the world. Once the world was set in motion, it was given potential for that which moves is constantly changing and therefore has potential. Aristotle says that change is eternal. Since the world is constantly changing, it is eternal, meaning it had a beginning but has no end. For this reason God is infinite because God lacks potential. As the immovable mover, it has no beginning and therefore has no end. This makes God the infinite being. Aristotle believes in the theory of origin. The world is the sensible perishable put into motion by the immovable mover. He therefore means that everything in the sensible world has a cause and effect. He says, “Nothing is moved at random, but there must always be something present to move it”. It is for this reason that creation can not come out of nothing. Creation was set in motion by God and is therefore finite and eternal in the sense that it was created and therefore had a beginning but has no end.

Cite This Document

Related Documents

  • Aristotle's Theory of the Four Causes

    ...however he dismissed his theories about the alternative world of forms and the true form of objects. Instead he tried to explain why things exist as they do in the real world. Aristotle believed we can only know a thing fully when all its causes of existence are understood. So he explored how things come into existence and tried to analyse how w...

    Read More
  • Aristotle's Theory of Motion Explained

    ...clear, whilst introducing a chapter that could hardly be more opaque. But to understand Aristotle’s concept of agency, the ability to cause motion, it is essential to grasp this passage which purports to make plain the idea of motion. This essay will focus on unpacking the passage in two sections. The first will work towards explaining his ini...

    Read More
  • Aristotle’s Theory of Virtue and Happiness

    ...Aristotle’s Theory of Virtue and Happiness Aristotle was one of the most respected philosophers of all time. He wrote on many subjects covering a wide range of topics; politics, psychology, metaphysics, logic and ethics. In the article “Nature of Virtue” written by Aristotle, his theory of a persons happiness and good morals is ex...

    Read More
  • Aristotle's Moral Theory

    ...In this paper, I will examine Aristotle's understanding of virtue and his explanation of virtuous actions as presented in Nicomachean Ethics. In Book II of the work, Aristotle distinguishes between moral virtues, which are learned through habit and practice, and intellectual virtues, which are learned through instruction. However, it is not unti...

    Read More
  • Aristotle's Theory of Poetics

    ...Aristotle’s Theory of Poetics Research Assignment Aristotle bases his theory of poetics on greek tragedy. He defines tragedy as "the imitation of an action that is serious and also as having magnitude, complete in itself." (Melani, 2009) He views that, "Tragedy is a form of drama exciting the emotions of pity and fear. Its action should ...

    Read More
  • Aristotle's Theory of Slavery

    ...Some aspects of Aristotle's theory of slavery Slavery -- natural or conventional? Aristole's theory of slavery is found in Book I, Chapters iii through vii of the Politics. and in Book VII of the Nicomachean Ethics Aristotle raises the question of whether slavery is natural or conventional. He asserts that the former is the case. So, Arist...

    Read More
  • Aristotle's State Theory

    ...Aristotle’s claim that the state is the highest, most developed form of social organisation is at the centre of one of his major works, ‘The Politics’ . His theory focuses mainly on the state as a natural progression, and draws upon two central themes; ‘the good life’ and human beings as ‘political animals’ . Whilst Aristotle does ...

    Read More
  • Aristotle's Four Causes

    ...a) Explain Aristotle’s theory of four causes (25 marks) Aristotle’s interest in explaining why things exist as they do led to his theory of Four Causes. He rejected Plato’s theory of Forms and was more intrigued by the particular form in which an object took, as opposed to the ‘ideal, perfect’ form. The four causes are: the material...

    Read More

Discover the Best Free Essays on StudyMode

Conquer writer's block once and for all.

High Quality Essays

Our library contains thousands of carefully selected free research papers and essays.

Popular Topics

No matter the topic you're researching, chances are we have it covered.