‘Aristotle’s Theory of the Four Causes is Not Convincing’

One would say that Aristotle’s four causes is not convincing but whether we can depict if it is true or not is a different matter. We would say that the word ‘convincing’ leads us to believe that in this case, we do not necessarily have to believe in the theory, only that the theory is interesting and therefore we are intrigued but not necessarily convinced that the theory is accepted as true. Overall, Aristotle’s theory of the four causes does make sense but could it be accepted as true? I don’t think it, in itself, is a good enough theory to develop.

To begin, Aristotle suggested that there are four causes – material, formal, efficient and final which itself is split into two with the ‘matter and form’ and then the ‘potential and actual’. Firstly, Aristotle puts his partnership with Plato at risk by suggesting that forms in the natural world are within every object split into these causes. However, if this is the case, then how come we still have the differing objects spanning from one object such as a chair having various different add ons or features bringing to conclusion the idea that perfection is gone? He stated that ‘matter and form cannot exist separately but are related’ If this is true then if we take apart the final and purposeful object do we then get the form? Therefore if it is a chair, we get wood. Is this then the perfection of wood? Why would the form of an object coincide within a changeable thing?

Plato first suggested that the forms were unchanging and were perfect concepts of things in our everyday lives and so Aristotle saying this would surely be determining that the forms are then not perfect and in fact just particulars themselves. Plato suggested that the world of the forms existed as a separate to our material and this allowed many great men to look up and admire him but when this passed to Aristotle, we realise that when trying to understand the two, neither make sense due to the unanswered questions which are created. Surely Aristotle’s idea of these causes is that everything has a purpose which is then determined by his prime mover – which is actually transitive and only a thought – so if this is true, how can matter exist? A ‘thought of thinking’ is what the prime mover is labelled as, but is it not fully impossible to have a mind which can create a universe it is not directly involved with and one which does not have any connection with anything other than the ‘brute fact’ that we just believe is there. What if Russell is correct in saying that we are here for no other reason than to live our lives, despite Aristotle stating that humans are here to live to be reasonable beings, we are not. We should accept our fate and make the most of it for if our universe is what it is then surely one should enjoy the time whilst one can.

Furthermore, Aristotle believed that the end cause of anything was its most significant explanation. Perhaps referring to the universe having it’s own final purpose but which has been criticized by multiple thinkers such as Sartre and Dawkins claiming there is no sense for the universe, it is what it is and it exists without any reason or goal. There is nothing a universe is ‘supposed to do’. This is a strong argument as Aristotle further develops the universe concept by involving this prime mover which largely associates with God as the ‘creator’ and which is seen as the determiner in the causes which sets off this chain reaction for the object or organism to fulfil its purpose. Following on from Russell’s point of view, is it not seen as an unnecessary complication perhaps due to Aristotle wanting to keep this idea of a God/prime mover alive as a remembrance of Plato and in order to include his ideas. This becomes just as frustrating as learning from Plato.

In conclusion, Aristotle lacks evidential influence in his theory which is proven by the ease at which it can be picked apart. The concept of the prime mover is just another complication which Aristotle has used to try and understand the universe. In this case, we understand that it lacks clarity and although the reality of wondering why the universe was created is questioned by everybody, the way of going about this is not to just make a God like thought which can influence the physical world. This final cause/ determiner is a big flaw in Aristotle’s quest for universal answers due to the fact that ‘the universe was created’ is a premise and not just a brute fact. One believes that, rather like Plato, Aristotle bases his whole theory of the four causes by explaining the causes as the developments for creation of our universe and that everything has a purpose. So in doing so,

All objects subsequently have a purpose and even organisms have some form of purpose in our world but as Aristotle puts it ‘within them is the potentiality and actuality’, to conclude, this could then be used to explain everything from the cause and form of why bread is made to the purpose and final cause of the whole universe. Is this really possible? One remains convinced that Aristotle used the four causes to explain certain things in our material world and that due to these conditions, he decided it could explain our universe in a correct manner. But does this theory of having a permanent form with a matter changing to adaptation make sense? Of course not, if a form is within the object of how its made and that it’s final cause is it’s most effective and purposeful, this takes away the mere attraction of perfection as Aristotle mainly developed the theory due to believing forms could be found on Earth in ‘things’ but rather like Plato believed, it seems to degrade the perfection into a material changing object. If they are related then how does it explain the universe? This then is what allowed Aristotle to arise at the conclusion of this prime mover which does not interact but does so with the mind in trying to find a loop hole in a changing but some sense permanent way but this simply creates more unreliable conclusions leading me to conclude that Aristotle’s theory of the four causes does not explain the universe and lacks any overall clarity and answers.

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