Aristotle’s Doctrine Of The Four Causes

Aristotles four causes theory uphold that all the causes can be grouped into varies divisions. The 4 causes are based on general laws, and these causes are associated with the question of why a thing is. To answer such question is to give a cause. Any artifact can be broken down to these four causes. There is the Material Cause, Formal Cause, Efficient Cause and the Final Cause. The Material Cause is the basic element that makes up a thing, in other words the cause of the object. For example the Material cause of a table would be wood, without the wood the table could not exist unless they were present in its work. The Formal Cause pertains the appearance or pattern with which these materials are accumulated. For example the Formal Cause of a table would be the arrangement, shape, and the design. Efficient Cause is the source or designer of that from which the thing became what it is. For instance the Efficient Cause of a table would be the carpenter who made it. Thus, the table is the table it is, because of the particular carpenter who made it. Lastly, the Final cause is the end (telos), the ultimate purpose or exact form of this object that comes to be. The final cause of a table would be to place meals or to place objects on top of it. For Aristotle it’s very important to understand the purpose of something in order to understand how to live ethically particularly human beings. This is part of the explanation of the table’s existence, for it would never have been built in the first place.

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Give a brief critical analysis of Aristotle’s idea of Happiness.

The central question of ethics for Aristotle is, what does it take for human beings to lead a good life? Aristotle outlines 3 points that he thinks have to be fulfilled for some purpose to be ultimate.

Ultimate goal has to be self- sufficient.

Final goal. In other words something you want for its own sake, not as stepping stone for something else


Since All activities have a final cause, or leads to some other desire, Ultimately for Aristotle the one goal that seems to fulfill all these stipulations was Happiness (eudaimonia). Not in the narrow sense of mental or emotional state but rather in the sense of well being or flourishing. If human beings can find happiness, happiness by its self is self- sufficient. Aristotle says that people need to make choices and in order to make choices we have to develop certain habits or virtues, which will allow you to make the right choices. People need to understand and even necessary to be taught the virtues habits. You need to develop these virtues to develop a happy life, but the virtues are the means to the end. How do we achieve this end? In order to understand that, we need to understand how Aristotle understood the human soul. Aristotle divided the soul into 3 parts. The basic part of the soul is basically vegetative. Our bodies grow and develop by itself without any kind of conscious control. Similarly, to the vegetable world because it takes place totally without rational control. Above the vegetable soul, it’s the animal level, the level of desires. As human beings Aristotle says we have certain responsibility to control our desires otherwise we would simply be no different then animals. And finally there is the rational part of the soul which controls the animal desires, as well as seeks for higher types of learning, education and higher types of gratification. Happiness is the activity of the soul according to reason and these activities must be according to virtue and excellence. If there are several virtues & excellences then they must be the highest activity. If you detain happiness, you could only die happy. Aristotle distinguishes 2 types of virtues. 1. Intellectual Virtue and Moral virtue. Intellectual Virtue comes from teaching and Moral virtue comes from Habituation. We acquire these virtues through virtue’s acts. Aristotle considers the life of the Gods, because the activity of a God is contemplation. Which is the highest form of activity of the soul to achieve Happiness. The Gods are engaged in intellectual virtues. The Gods are not interested in human affairs. If there is a perfect life for Aristotle, which happiness it is in this existence, its the here and now not in the afterlife. The wise person is the one that studies the most, and the one that studies the most is the one that is loved by the Gods, because he is performing an activity the is accepted by the Gods. Therefore, Aristotle would say that if you reached happiness then you have achieved the ultimate human existence.

Does Plato make a convincing case for why philosophers should rule society?

According to Plato, the society is to consist of three classes – workers, warriors and rulers. Each of which must stick to completing their direct commitment. As to the rulers, Plato’s opinion regarding them is very interesting and different from the views of other philosophers. In the “Republic”, he dwell on different types of rulers, which vary from democrat to tyrant, and he come to the conclusion that philosopher would be best choice for the country due to number of characteristics. For example, considering the aspect of love for honor, the dialogue between Plato and Socrates is shaped in the following way: “What about an honor-lover?… A rich man is honored by many people, so is a courageous one and a wise one, but the pleasure of studying the things that are cannot be tasted by anyone except for a philosopher.”(Cohen M.C., p. 567) Another reason for the philosopher to be considered the best ruler according to Plato is the fact that unlike the rest of the rulers (monarch or tyrant), the philosopher is inclined to look for truth rather than prove his rightness to others. The philosopher is always open to new ideas and is not likely to use conventional methods which do not suit the situation. As the ideal candidate for the position of the ruler of the state is considered by Plato to be a philosopher, there are two logical ways of realization of this idea: a philosopher must become a king or a king mist become a philosopher. Either way leads to building a harmonious and strong state where everyone knows his place and fulfills his obligations honestly. It goes without saying that Plato’s works are full of bright ideas, inspiration and desire to improve the society he lived in. Moreover, they are still very topical and most of them underlie modern philosophical concepts. However his theory is hard to implement in real life due to its idealistic nature and the nature of the human animal.

What is the relationship between the sun simile, the divided line and the allegory of the cave in Plato’s Republic?

The Allegory of the cave in the Republic illustrates the effects of the education on the soul. It is a story showing how true reality is not always what we think it is. It is a story of tolerance and the power of possibility. Plato sums the Plato imagines a group of prisoners who have been kept in the cave their whole lives. They have been chained so they could not see behind themselves and they are forced to stare at the cave wall in front of them. Behind them a fire is burning and between the prisoners and the fire is a raised walkway. Each day a menagerie of objects cross the walkway such as animals, and people. Their shapes create a shadow play on the wall in front of the prisoners. This is the only world the prisoners have ever known. Then one day a prisoner was dragged out of the cave into the sun light, after some time adjusting to the blinding light, he noticed that it was the sun that governed everything in the visible realm and which was in one way or another responsible for everything they use to see. This is obviously the next stage. The free prisoner began to experience the world outside of the cave for the very first time and it was nothing like he could have ever imagined. With his new perception of the world the man returns to his friends and wants to convince them that what they were seeing was just an illusion. But the prisoners cannot recognize their own friend, he appearance as all things do, a shadow with distorted voice. This does not make the world outside of the cave any less real. The divided line explains Plato’s theory of how knowledge works and how we come to have knowledge and clarity of the soul. In the Allegory of the Cave the line simile explains the four types knowledge from lowest to the highest. They are, Illusions, Belief or Trust, Mathematical Knowledge and lastly Philosophical Knowledge. It illustrates that the truth works once we deal with reality. The Allegory of the Cave explains that if we want to seek the real truth we have to accept the pain of dropping all of our preconceived notions of what truth was before. The light of the fire inside the dwelling is the power of the sun, which represents the form or character of the good. Once it’s seen the conclusion must be that it turns out to be the cause of all that is right and good for everything.

Aristotle appears to argue that we are responsible for our moral character. However, if childhood training counts for so much in developing moral character,aˆ¦.if we ourselves are not responsible for the training we receive?

Virtue is a disposition involving choice. There are 2 parts to virtues. Intellectual virtue and Moral virtue. Intellectual virtue comes from teaching and moral virtue comes from habit. A decent person raises their children in a virtues way, since virtue comes with training and habituation. Therefore, we can say that it is obvious that we are not born with these characteristics but acquired them through nature of act.. We are responsible for the type of people we became, because we shape our moral character through choices and actions. For instance, a relationship (virtue), can be nourished through love and commitment to one another. It’s not something that can be done inevitably but rather, voluntary. We are what we are, because of the things that we repeatedly do, and should not act ignorant nor make excuses. Example, becoming pianist by playing the piano, we became just by doing just actions. If it weren’t for our actions then teachers wouldn’t be needed, for we would be born with such qualities.

Explain Aristotle’s Doctrine of the mean.

The doctrine of mean is Aristotle’s declaration to search for the middle ground, extremes exist in almost every aspect of life and one should seek for the mean. This mean is not an absolute one but a relative one, customized to the situation and person. But the location is always in between the two. For example in Nicomachean Ethics he lists the following examples; with respect to fear and confidence the mean is courage, excess in confidence leads to foolhardy and excess in fear leads to cowardice and with respect to honor and disgrace the mean is high-mindedness, excess of honor is called vanity and deficiency of it might be called humility or small-mindedness.