INTRODUCTIONTeleological theories are concerned with the end result of a process, the purpose or intention. In this essay I will summarise, contrast and compare Plato’s and Aristotle’s teleologies. There is much debate around the translation and interpretation of both philosophers texts and I will try to offer different sides of a number of key debates.To decipher Aristotle’s works I will refer to texts by chiefly in the physics, and the metaphysics.
For Plato the key dialogues In will discuss are the Timeaus, the Phaedo. To assist me in this rather large and daunting task I will use Teleology and craftsmanship Johansench inPURPOSE.? ‘nature does nothing in vain’,I will begin by considering that for both Plato and Aristotle to have what we would call a Teleology, it would be fair to say they both have to subscribe to doctrines that are Teleological. I will attempt to go over the basic common ground Plato and Aristotle share; that things should be seen, judged and evaluated in relation to their purpose. Plato states QUOTE!!! that an organizing intelligence has created our Universe, and while there is an unchanging world beyond our sense perception, the world we perceive does come to be, and In his view nothing comes to be without the agency of some cause. In the Physics Aristotle’s reasoning for his teleology argues that “when an event takes place always or for the most part, it is not accidental or by chance. In natural products the sequence is invariable, if there is no impediment. It is absurd to suppose that purpose is not present because we do not observe the agent deliberating.
Art does not deliberate. If the ship-building art were in the wood, it would produce the same results by nature. If, therefore, purpose is present in art, it is present also in nature. The best illustration is a doctor doctoring himself: nature is like that.” (Phys. ii.
8 199b14–32, transl. Hardie and Gaye). EXTERNAL/INTERNALIn Teleology and craftsmanship Johansench describes two common kinds of teleological accounts, one that looks at Intentional agency as being the cause of a process and another which doesn’t. This he suggests is seen by many to be a fault line which separates Plato (as intentional), and Aristotle (as unintentional). This can also be viewed as an external or internal cause.
An exterior agent or inner nature which has influence over the creation and order of things, as seen in Aristotle’s reference to the doctor, his idea of a doctor that can heal himself is like a natural order which needs no outside influence to influence or aid it.Plato places at the center of his cosmological account an active agent with a moral motivation, an external cause which he uses the term “demiurge” (Greek, d ?emiourgos), which translates as craftsman or artisan, to describe. He suggests that the demiurge must be good and that wanted to make the world as good as possible. The fact that he (Johanesch uses the pronoun “he” and although I feel it incorrect to gender or personify the Demiurge I will follow his lead) is good and wanted to create the world to be as good as possible, this Plato’s Timaeus tell us, “is the most compelling principle or cause”. This is the core of a developing argument of the universe as built on a system of morality, provoked by an external cause.Aristotle’s theory looks to an internal cause, an internal principle of change, by first showing that the causation of natural things is different from artificial ones and then showing each natural thing to have its own internal nature. He comes to this conclusion by breaking down causation through trying to exhaust the answers to all of the possible “why” questions you could pose when defining the cause of something.
This line of thinking developed what he called the “four causes”; the Material, Formal, Efficient, and Final cause. The Material or “that out of which” being the physical matter of which something is made. The Formal or “what it is to be” being the arrangement or shape its form takes.The Efficient or “that from what the origin of motion or rest comes from” being the agent which directly caused its creation or movement. And The Final cause or” that for the sake of which” being the purpose of its change, action or form. A basic artificial example would be; a table is wooden (material), needs legs and a top (Formal), is made by a carpenter (efficient), and serves a use for the people who use it (Final).
There are 3 basic kinds of final cause identified by ?Leunissen in . The first type of final cause he defines is the realisation of a potential for form, in both natural or artificial process. In the case of a human he refers to the semen as the potential for form and the source of the soul as transmitted through the motions contained within it. What separates nature and art, are external and innate potential efficient causes, artificial production as opposed to natural generation. “what makes something natural is that it has or develops its own internal source of change and rest”. In artificial production a Craftsman, or external agent doesn’t reproduce his own form, but that of the art which he possess in his soul.the second types are potential for activities, as opposed to an assumed form. They are functions which are a contribution to the first type of final cause we just discussed.
we can say that providing a dry place to stand is the final cause of an umbrella, which was itself an artificial product and the final cause of the potential of an artisan beforehand.The third proposed final cause are: objects of desire. They are again a type of action rather than a generation of some type. This where a conscious process has taken place between agents that involve desire and imagination.The formal and final cause are intimately connected, and they are explicitly teleological, the potential for something and its realisation.
He makes a clear distinction between art and nature and their teleologies as leunissen puts it “Art is ontologically secondary to nature” pg 38.Although in some passages his work can be seen as Anthropocentric, for instance he shows the food chain as being hierarchical. But He also talks about nature as a wholewhen the theory is tested it creates a more complex picture. Aristotle sees the rain falling on crops to make them grow may be to our advantage but isn’t their actual purpose, we just use it to our own benefit.