Aristotle's Four Causes & Prime Mover

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Aristotle's Four Causes & Prime Mover
1 Scientist- Wished to analyse and classify things. Also wished to investigate the philosophical nature of things; i.e. explain why things are as they are.
1.1 Interest in gaining knowledge through the physical world and experience.
1.1.1 Different to Plato. Plato did not value empirical knowledge as he thought the truth only existed in a transcendent realm of forms.
2 Aristotle found four ways to ask the question of why any object or being exists; what is it made of, what makes it recognisable, who created it and what is the purpose of it?
2.1 Material cause. What substance or matter the object is made from. He used the example of a saucer being made from silver and a sculpture from bronze. Something can have more than one material cause; e.g a phone is made from glass, batteries and other materials. These are all the material cause of the phone.
2.1.1 Formal cause. What gives the object its form or structure. Pieces of paper in a book are arranged in a specific manner so that it is correctly readable and recognisable. Formal cause of a bottle is the shape of it as it has a specific structure to make it recognisable as a bottle. This form is different to the Platonic "form" as it is inseparably linked with the object and not located in a transcendent realm of forms.
2.1.2 Third cause is the efficient cause. It is the means or agency by which something comes into existence. A painting is in existence because of the artist who paints it. The artist is the efficient cause.
3 Aristotle's believed that all the other causes are subordinate to the final cause. The final cause is of vital importance as it linked to his belief of everything being teleological; i.e. he thought that things have an ultimate purpose or goal. E.g. Perfume- Give a different and usually pleasant smell. Aristotle thought that every being had a purpose of actualising it's potentiality. Any object or thing has a function and this function is the ultimate reason why the thing is as it is.
3.1 His final cause can be linked to natural law, where something is considered to be good if it fulfils its potential and purpose.
4 Aristotle observed four things. Everything in the universe is constantly changing. The planets are moving eternally. Change is always caused by something. Objects in the physical world are always in a state of actuality and potentiality. Using these observations he comes up with the PM as an attempt to answer the question, what is the cause of motion and change in the universe? He understood the motion of the planets to be eternal which suggests that there must be an eternal cause of motion, who he thought to be an unchanging and necessary PM.
4.1 The Prime Mover is the efficient and final causes of the universe. Its ‘action' in the universe is passive. It exists in a state of ‘pure actuality' incapable of change. This is Aristotle's god. Things are attracted towards the perfection found within its ‘pure actuality'; in other words objects/things want to be like the PM. The PM does not act in anyway but by it's very existence, things in the world are drawn to it. This is why the Prime Mover is known as the great attractor. Objects that move from potentiality to actuality fulfil their purpose because their change is brought about through the existence of the Prime Mover (a point later picked up on by Aquinas in his notion of the ‘unmoved mover'). This is how Aristotle explained the final cause of the universe as objects in the universe move towards their actuality, thus getting as close as possible to the "pure actuality" of the PM.

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