Aristotle 's Understanding Of The Four Causes

1448 Words Nov 14th, 2015 6 Pages
a) Explain Aristotle’s understanding of the four causes

Aristotle explains that anything which changes is subject to causes giving it potentiality. Potentiality means that something has a purpose to fulfil when it is enabled to, this potentiality becomes actuality when it achieves that purpose which Aristotle called ‘Telos’. Therefore in order to go from cause to effect an object must change and Aristotle understood this process in four different ways called the four causes. He understood that each of the four causes was necessary to explain the change from potentiality to actuality. The Final cause is a very different cause to the other three. Whereas the Material, Efficient and Formal causes all relate to how something exists, the Final cause is about why it exists.
The first cause Aristotle described was the material cause. This explains the physical substance that an object is composed of. For example the material cause of a dog would be blood, fur, bones and muscle. Knowing this cause cannot alone explain the telos of the dog itself however it enables the Dog to function biologically therefore it is part of the ability to change that the dog has therefore it gives the dog potential to come into effect. Secondly, Aristotle spoke about an efficient cause. This describes the process that makes something to happen. The efficient cause is what brings about change in something, and it is usually what makes its external form. For example a Dog comes into being from a male…
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