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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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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Names: Hennig, Boris, author.

Title: Aristotle’s four causes / Boris Hennig.

Description: 1 [edition]. | New York: Peter Lang, 2019.

Includes bibliographical references and index.

Identifiers: LCCN 2018042606 | ISBN 978-1-4331-5929-9 (hardback: alk. paper)

ISBN 978-1-4331-5930-5 (ebook pdf) | ISBN 978-1-4331-5931-2 (epub)ISBN 978-1-4331-5932-9 (mobi)

Subjects: LCSH: Aristotle. | Causation.

Classification: LCC B491.C3 H46 2019 | DDC 122—dc23

LC record available at https://lccn.loc.gov/2018042606DOI 10.3726/b14400

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