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Aristotle's Four Causes

Boris Hennig

This book examines Aristotle’s four causes (material, formal, efficient, and final), offering a systematic discussion of the relation between form and matter, causation, taxonomy, and teleology. The overall aim is to show that the four causes form a system, so that the form of a natural thing relates to its matter as the final cause of a natural process relates to its efficient cause. Aristotle’s Four Causes reaches two novel and distinctive conclusions. The first is that the formal cause or essence of a natural thing is not a property of this thing but a generic natural thing. The second is that the final cause of a process is not its purpose but the course that processes of its kind typically take.

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Bibliography

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Allan, D. J. (1955). “The Practical Syllogism”. In L. de Raeymaker, ed., Autour d’Aristote, offert à A. Mansion. Louvain: Publications Universitaires.

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———. (1957). Intention. London: Basil Blackwell.

———. (1981). “Causality and Determination”. In Collected Philosophical Papers, vol. 2. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

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