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Aristotle - Efficient cause

  1. Mar 3, 2015 #1

    I'm confused by this

    The efficient cause: “the primary source of the change or rest”, e.g., the artisan, the art of bronze-casting the statue, the man who gives advice, the father of the child.

    So.. the efficient cause of an exam is the person who wrote the exam?
    The fact that we need to test what people know is the final cause? The material cause is paper? The formal cause is the shape of the paper and all the questions that make up the exam?

    The efficient cause of a flower is evolution? Or sunlight? Or...?

    The efficient cause of an abstract concept like a triangle? Every person who imagines a triangle? The apparatus in our brain that allow us to conceptualize a triangle? Or do abstract ideas have no efficient causes?

    Thanks for your help
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 3, 2015 #2
    Yes. I would agree.

    Aristotle's so-called 'efficient cause' is more closely related to what we consider cause-effect relationships today. So the example that the 'father is the efficient cause of the child' might be replaced today by saying that the child was caused by conception.

    That seems too general in this case. Perhaps the final cause of the exam is to simply to test your knowledge of the material.

    Sure. And the ink.

    I think that is a reasonable way to say it.

    Mmm. I think this is more akin to the efficient cause of a child. Perhaps the pollen and/or the germination of the seed is the efficient cause here.

    I don't think that each of the four causes apply here but we might need a philosopher to chime in
    a) there is no material so there can be no material cause
    b) the formal cause could be line segments organized so that they form a triangle (the definition of triangle is the formal cause?)
    c) there is no change or lack thereof so I don't think there can be an efficient cause
    d) the final cause of an abstract concept is not immediately obvious to me unless it is being used for something.
  4. Mar 4, 2015 #3
    Thanks! I think I am getting it
  5. Mar 7, 2015 #4


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