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Aristotle - Physics II, 3, and Metaphysics V, 2 - Cause and effect

Identifier

014998

Type of Spiritual Experience

Background

This observation is an exceptionally useful adjunct to the more general section on this site about cause effect and the need to find the causes of anything.

I have edited the Wikipedia description to keep the general sense but make it more understandable , the example is mine because their example was meaningless.

A description of the experience

Wikipedia

Aristotle's word for "cause" is the Greek αἴτιον, aition, a neuter, singular form of an adjective meaning "responsible.".   He uses this word in the sense meaning an explanation for how a thing came about; in this context, "x is the aition of y" means "x explains y".  Aristotle wrote that:

"we do not have knowledge of a thing until we have grasped its why, that is to say, its cause."

"Four causes" refers to an influential principle in Aristotelian thought whereby causes of change are categorized into four fundamental types of answer to the question "why?" Aristotle was convinced that his four causes provided an analytical scheme of general applicability.

Aristotle held that there were four kinds of answers to 'why' questions (in ):

  • A change's  material cause is the aspect of the change  which is determined by the material which the moving or changing things are made of.   Thus a rock [thing undergoing change] might fall down [effect]  because it is made of stone [cause], note thta this does not exclude other causes
  • A change's formal cause is a change by the arrangement, shape or appearance of the thing changing or moving. Thus a rock [thing undergoing change] might fall down [effect]  because it is made of stone [cause], and because it was on the brink of a precipice. 
  • A change's efficient or moving cause consists of things apart from the thing being changed or moved, which interact so as to be an agency of the change or movement. Thus a rock [thing undergoing change] might fall down [effect]  because it is made of stone [cause], because it was on the brink of a precipice [cause] and because someone heaved it over the edge [cause]
  • An event's final cause is the end toward which it directs. In effect it is the end of the cause effect chain.   Thus a rock [thing undergoing change] might fall down [effect]  because it is made of stone [cause], because it was on the brink of a precipice [cause] and because someone heaved it over the edge [cause].  The effect is that ot falls down, but the final cause [in reality the final effect] is that it smashes into smithereens on the rocks below.

The source of the experience

Aristotle

Concepts, symbols and science items

Symbols

Science Items

Activities and commonsteps

Activities

Commonsteps

Cause effect diagrams

References