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Information about Aristotle

Published on October 8, 2009

Author: ICTatCSG


Slide 1: Aristotle – Cause and Purpose KQ: How did Aristotle explain the existence of things in the world, and our knowledge of them? “You cannot step in the same river twice” -Heraclitus Slide 2: Perception Is all we have! Empiricism – the idea that knowledge of the world is gained through the senses. When you perceive objects in the world their form enters your mind and creates an imprint. Your ‘common faculty’ co-ordinates these impressions to create your perception of reality. The perception is ‘caused’ by the object being there. It is therefore reasonable to say that you can gain knowledge from perceptions. How is this different to Plato’s theory of knowledge? Slide 3: What causes change? What is the purpose of change? Slide 4: Substances & The Four Causes Things have substance. A thing’s substance is both matter and form. Most substances are subject to change. An important aspect of any thing is its potentiality (what it could be) and its actuality (what it is). Although all the causes are important in an object’s existence, it is the final cause (the telos) that is the most important. Once an object has reached its actuality, then it is in its most real state. Slide 5: Potentiality = the state of becoming, or having the potential to become. Materials, or matter always have the potential to change. Actuality = the state of being, or have reached a final, identifiable state. Reached as a result of the efficient and formal causes. This is when the thing achieves its fullest reality. Aristotle’s ideas about change & becoming… Slide 6: What is the cause of the cake? Slide 7: The Material Cause What it is made from, what are the components, what matter is combined or found within the object? The Efficient Cause How potential becomes actual. What brings about the change in the matter from a previous state into a new state. The Formal Cause The shape or structure that the object has, which makes it identifiable as that thing. The Final Cause The purpose of the object; its reason for existence. The ‘telos’ of a thing is the ultimate use of the object or thing. The use for which it was created. A ‘good’ cake is the one which perfectly fulfils its purpose. Slide 8: Material Efficient Formal Final The Cause of Pizza ? ? ? ? Slide 9: Aristotle’s Prime Mover KQ: How did Aristotle explain the cause and purpose of the universe and existence in general? Slide 10: Material Efficient Formal Final ? ? Slide 11: Material Efficient Formal Final Slide 12: The Prime Mover draws matter through different forms towards its telos, in a similar way to a magnet which causes movement by attracting objects towards it. Since the Prime Mover is perfection and ultimate goodness, the final telos of matter is its most perfectly good state. Slide 13: The Prime Mover – God? The Prime Mover is both the source and the telos of matter in the universe. The prime mover is the cause of change in the universe by drawing matter through various states of potentiality and actuality, until matter reaches its telos (the very last and final, perfect state of actuality). The Prime Mover is perfect, and as such does not think or feel or involve itself with the universe (if it did this, the prime mover would be affected by the universe, implying imperfection). The Prime Mover exists without cause, it is uncaused, and is of a different nature to substances that make up the universe. The Prime mover is eternal and is therefore different to matter which is subject to change. Slide 14: This image shows the magnet field of the earth and the sun. To what extent does this image help us to understand Aristotle’s ideas? Slide 15: Aristotle on Plato Aristotle argued that Plato’s idea of the forms led away from reality, not towards it. Aristotle argued that the forms are eternal and do not change. Almost everything in the world is subject to change, the theory of the forms could not explain this change. Aristotle argued that there is no clear link between Plato’s ideal forms and specific examples, and the theory of Forms can’t explain how specific things come to exist. Plato’s theory of Forms was subject to the problem of ‘infinite regress’ - the idea of an ideal behind an ideal, which ends up being ridiculous. Aristotle’s empiricism does not suffer this problem. Unlike Plato’s forms, science has confirmed some of Aristotle’s ideas about substance – there is a constant amount of matter & energy in the universe, which continues to change. However, science does not confirm that there is an ultimate purpose. Aristotle’s ideas are often unclear Aristotle fails to acknowledge the importance of reason as a source of knowledge. Many scientists and philosophers reject the idea that the universe has a ‘telos’, and certainly reject the claim that this is divine.

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