In book 2 chapter 3 of Aristotle’s Physics the philosopher’s main concern is identifying the cause of things.  In other words Aristotle was concerned with determining the cause of why things are the way that they are.  This passage proved to be especially confusing for me.

Aristotle begins by stating that we must study the causes of the things that are in order to gain wisdom.  This wisdom only comes when we know the primary cause of things.  Aristotle believes that by identifying the reasons for the world he will gain knowledge without qualification.  He goes on to say that there are four main causes – the parts, the whole or form, the source (or producer) of change, and the end.  Aristotle believes that these four explain how and why things exist and change.  However, in my opinion, this passage still leaves large gaps in the picture.

While the answers that Aristotle presents do explain the cause of certain objects he fails to identify the primary cause.  He states that the cause of the bed is the matter (the wood), the form (structure), the carpenter, etc.  However he fails to explain where the wood comes from or why it has the form and matter it does.  While Aristotle does explain how certain objects come to be, such as man-made objects, he doesn’t establish what the true essence of everything is.  Therefore we could go on for forever questioning the cause of the cause of another object.  When does this end and when is true knowledge without qualification established then?

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