Applying Aristotle’s four causes to living creatures/nature:
Example of a human being:
- Human being is made through a fully developed human being.
- A rational, two legged animal is the form which is the cause of human beings.
- The parents of a human being would be the cause of a human being.
- A fully developed human being is the cause of human beings.
Reading through the notes by Dr. Freeland on Aristotle’s Biological works, there are a few thoughts that come to my mind on the example of human beings. When looking at it through Aristotle’s perspective, rather than a rational, two legged animal being the form I think it would be the father who is the form that is the cause of a human being. The matter seems to be the mother because of his male vs. female prejudice and the hierarchy he creates in form > matter. A revised version of how Aristotle looks at it would probably be something like this:
Example of human being (revised):
- Mother is the matter that is the cause of a human being.
- Father is the form of a human being because human beings are supposed to resemble men in their family lineage.
- The parents would be the immediate/moving cause of a human being.
- A fully developed human being is the cause, a human being is the end of a human being.
Example of a tree:
- An acorn is the matter that is the cause because it turns into a tree.
- A tree itself is the form that is the cause, as that is what it is going to become.
- The process of creation/development of an acorn would be the immediate/moving cause of a tree.
- A fully developed tree would be the cause of a tree, in the same way as a fully developed human being is the end of a human being.
Aristotle seems to give teleological accounts for nature, such that everything has its own unique end/purpose. Thinking in modern terms, maybe the purpose/end of algae would be to absorb the CO2 in the environment.