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The Four Causes. of Aristotle. Think of oak trees. ………. The formal cause. The material cause. The efficient cause. The final cause. The acorn always produces a tree, if it sprouts. This tree will always be recognizable as an oak tree. The acorn does not produce maple

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the four causes

The Four Causes

of Aristotle

think of oak trees
Think of oak trees

………

The formal cause.

The material cause.

The efficient cause.

The final cause.

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The acorn always produces a tree, if it sprouts. This tree will always

be recognizable as an oak tree. The acorn does not produce maple

trees, it does not produce fig newtons.

Therefore, there has to be something residual in the acorn that makes

the oak tree happen.

This is the form of oak tree.

This is what Aristotle means when he speaks of the form being in

the natural object, and of forms being immanent in nature.

For him, the forms are not perfect, unchanging abstractions that exist

outside of this world (Plato), but are in the world, always at work.

Think of DNA. That is Aristotle’s formal cause.

the acorn has needs
The Acorn has needs….

…it requires nutrients from the soil, and moisture.

This moisture and nutrients that make up what we would call today the cell structure of the tree are the material cause.

sunlight and warmth
Sunlight and warmth…

…make thing happen.

These are the efficient causes.

the objective
The objective…

The end, or purpose (Gr.telos) of the process is the “final” cause.

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Sources:

Aristotle, Physics 194 b17–20; see also: Posterior Analytics 71 b9–11; 94 a20.