what is aristotles doctine of causation?what are the four types of causes, and how are they put to work?

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damaru | College Teacher | (Level 1) Honors

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Aristotle (384-322 B.C.) dealing with the issues concerning the discussion on the 'First Principles', calling 'First Philosophy' latterly called 'meta ta physica' (Metaphysics) by Andronicus, wrote a series of fourteen books.

Though the basic concern of Meta Physics is substance (the first or ultimate principle of the world) causation or the theory of cause, which is originated from the theory of change is also the basic one. No change is possible without the matter and its form. It is the form which causes the matter to move and an end is realized then. An artist always has an idea in the mind; he acts on the matter and the purpose is realized. Aristotle illustrates four causes in this process:-

1.         The Formal Cause (the idea in the mind).

2.         The Material Cause (the matter to be used).

3.         The Efficient (moving) Cause (the skill with the artist).

4.         The Final Cause (for the sake of which something is made).

            We can illustrate in the following way : the idea or form of a pitcher originates in the mind of the artists, he collects the matter (i.e. clay, water, etc.); then he uses his skills on it, giving it efficiency and finally when a pitcher is made, it is used for storing or preserving water. In this process the final cause comes first then the others. 

            The same causes are (the two are essential; form and matter) are at work in nature, particularly in the organic world.

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leewright344 | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

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Aristotle had a lifelong interest in the study of nature. He investigated a variety of different topics, ranging from general issues like motion, causation, place and time, to systematic explorations and explanations of natural phenomena across different kinds of natural entities. These different inquiries are integrated into the framework of a single overarching enterprise describing the domain of natural entities. An explanation for a state of affairs must specify some fact or object (in general, some abstract or concrete entity) which is responsible for it. The entity responsible is, Aristotle submits, a cause.  Aristotle''s doctrine on causationidentifies four distinct types of cause: formal, efficient,material, and final. Science is said to have differentiateditself from philosophy by concentrating solely on efficientcauses.

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