Aristotle (384-322BC) was a pupil of Plato; however, he argued that the Forms were seriously flawed. He believed that Plato’s theory of forms was not supported by good arguments, required a form for each thing, was too mathematical and did not adequately explain the occurrence of change.
Aristotle’s theory of causation maintains that all the causes form several divisions. The total number of these divisions depends on the ways the question “why” may be answered. The major kinds of causes come under the following divisions:The first is called Material Cause. Material cause relates to the cause of something in terms of the physical make-up. The Material Cause comes into existence due to its parts, ingredients, elements or materials. For example, bronze and silver would be the causes of a statue. If the production of an artefact like a bronze statue is considered, the bronze in the explanation of the production of the statue is considered as the material cause.
In this example, the bronze is not only the material that can be made into a statue.Like the statue, the bronze is subject of change. This means the bronze may undergo the change and results in a statue.
In order for the bronze to become a statue, the bronze is melted and put in a wax cast to acquire the desired shape, that of a statue. The second type of causation according to Aristotle is the Efficient Cause. Efficient cause explains something in terms of its starting point of change or stability; the actions which cause something to exist.
The Efficient Cause is that from which the change or the conclusion of the change was introduced.It implies all agents of change whether nonliving or living. For instance, in the above example the efficient cause of the statue was the sculptor. It was he who made the change in the bronze and silver, making it into a statue. But an in-depth explanation of the production of a statue points to a deeper efficient cause or the principle that produces the statue. Aristotle believes it is not just the artist but more importantly the principle is the art of bronze-casting the statue.
Aristotle believes that the artist merely manifest his knowledge in the production of the statue. This knowledge then, not the artist who has mastered it, is the most accurate portrayal of the efficient cause. The third cause according to Aristotle is the formal cause. This cause pertains to the essence or ‘pattern’ of something. The Formal Cause simply points out the characteristics of a thing; what a thing is. The account of causes can be accumulated from the basic principles or general laws being the whole as caused by its parts.For instance, the formal cause of a statue is what it is for in order to be called a statue: it must have a head, be a certain length, it portrays a certain person or god, and others. This shape is part of the explanation of the production of the statue and is known as the formal cause.
Lastly, Aristotle describes the final cause. Final cause explains the cause of why something is made. The Final Cause is that for the sake of which a thing exists or is done, its purpose and its actions and activities.The final cause is the end to which something must serve. For example, the final cause of a statue could be to portray a god for decorative purposes. A wax cast is first made to make a statue. Then bronze is melted and poured in the wax cast.
The prior and the subsequent stage are done for a certain end, the production of the statue. Each step of the artistic production leads to the final cause or that for the sake of which everything is done which is, in this instance, the statue.