Explain Aristotle's Concept Of The Prime Mover

953 words - 4 pages

Pippa Williams 12/10/14Explain Aristotle's Concept of the Prime MoverThe great Italian poet, Dante, called Aristotle the 'Master of those who know.' Aristotle (384-322 BC) was considered to be the greatest of Plato's pupils. He was a student from 367 until Plato's death in 347 BC, and, although he profoundly disagreed with Plato, especially over the Forms, he never lost respect of affection for his master. He is reputed to have said, 'Plato is dear to us, but truth is more dear,' and he often refers to Plato as his friend.Aristotle, like many other philosophers before him, realised that the universe was in a constant state of change and motion. Therefore, he thought, there must be some kind of efficient cause, someone or something performing some kind of action, to make all this change and motion happen.Aristotle strongly considered the idea that there might be an endless chain of cause and effect, with each movement being cause by a moving thing, which was being caused by another moving thing and so on. However, later on he rejected this idea of his as he didn't think it provided a satisfactory solution.After this, he identified four types of cause that make a certain something what it is:The Material Cause - this is what something is made from. For example, the material cause of a chair is the plastic/wood/metal from which it is madeThe Formal Cause - for example, this chair is what it is because it is in the form of a chair (the shape in which the wood/metal/plastic have). If it were not in that shape, it would not be a chairThe Efficient Cause - for example, this is what brings the chair about. In this case, it would be the chair maker. If there was not an efficient cause, the chair would not exist.The Final Cause - this is the purpose for which a certain thing exists. For example the chair exists for the purpose of providing somewhere comfortable to sit.The efficient cause of the universe, Aristotle thought, must be God. God must be the Prime Mover, a cause which actualises the potential in everything else. For example, when a piece of coal becomes hot - it moves from potential (it is capable of being hot) to actuality (it has become the hot thing it was capable of becoming). The cause of change must be external to the thing itself - something outside heats the coal. Aristotle argued that this was God as a Prime Mover.However, the Prime Mover itself must be something that causes without being affected (otherwise it would simply be another link in the endless chain). The Prime Mover must be a being with no potential; something which is already everything that it could be, 'pure actuality,' with no potential to change or to be...

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