Preliminary Study of Aristotle's Causes

Monte Ransome Johnson

in Aristotle on Teleology

Published in print November 2005 | ISBN: 9780199285303
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603143 | DOI:

Series: Oxford Aristotle Studies Series

 Preliminary Study of Aristotle's Causes

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Aristotle considers nature, art, spontaneity, luck, necessity, and intelligence to be causes, and they fit into the four kinds of cause that he distinguishes throughout works on natural philosophy. The four kinds of cause, e.g. matter, mover, form, end, are not themselves causes, but are classes of causes. The causes can be combined in various ways, and the same thing can be classified as several kinds of cause. Causes play a crucial role in scientific demonstration: the middle term in a syllogism of natural science. But only intrinsic (as opposed to incidental) causes can play this role, and so it is important to distinguish between things that happen to be predicated of a cause (such as paleness of a the sculptor), and things essential to a cause (such as the art of sculpture). Due attention to these distinctions can show how Aristotle thinks that various causes can be integrated (such as ends and movers) in a way that is still explanatory, and how causation does not violate temporal sequence, requiring “backwards causation”.

Keywords: causality; explanation; efficient cause; final cause; formal cause; material cause; matter; mover; account; intrinsic

Chapter.  13357 words. 

Subjects: Ancient Philosophy

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