The fifth cause?
March 5, 2007 1:55pm CST
The material cause is the stuff from which the thing is made. The formal cause is the pattern or structure it has. The efficient cause is the agent that imposed this form on that matter. The final cause is the purpose for the thing. ... but what sustains the thing? For the most part - physical law - but what sustains physical law? Or is this a silly question?
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5 Mar 07
I explained, the use of the term "cause" is misleading here, which is why your original post made perfect sense, given that one isn't familiar with this (admittedly somewhat antiquated?) system. It is, though, certainly common to find it mentioned in some philosophical circles or even in some science books/articles that are trying to provide a theoretical framework around which to organize explanations (because when you ask how to explain why something happens, you can indeed give explanations at different levels, and *that* is what Aristotle was trying to get at). So I guess we're back to the question: is Aristotle's system in general still useful/accurate, and if so, is it exhaustive or are there perhaps other levels of "cause"/"explanation"/whatever?