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A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF ARISTOTLE’S CONCEPTION OF CAUSALITY




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A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF ARISTOTLE’S CONCEPTION OF CAUSALITY

ABSTRACT
Causality has been variously defined, and even given an empirical understanding. Causality is derived from the term “cause which means anything capable of changing something else or that which “produces something (makes something happen; bring about the occurrence of something) without which that thing would not have resulted. That which is produced (or changed) is called the effect and the effect is explained by it cause. Nevertheless, in the treatment of causality Aristotle in his first philosophy or metaphysics gave a holistic analysis of the concept of causality, were he uses the term “cause” to mean explanation. However, for the Africans, “cause” has meaning basically from a metaphysical approach. That every effect has a cause is a very strong belief in the African world view. This means that whatever happens physically or otherwise has an explanation and this explanation may be spiritual as well as natural. Nevertheless, this work attempts a critique of Aristotle’s analysis of causality.
TABLE OF CONTENT:
CHAPTER ONE
INTRODUCTION
1.1     Background of the Study
1.2     Statement of the Research Problem
1.3     Objectives of the Study
1.4     Significance of the Study
1.5     Research Questions
1.6     Research Hypothesis
1.7     Conceptual and Operational Definition
1.8     Assumptions
1.9     Limitations of the Study

CHAPTER TWO
LITERATURE REVIEW
2.1     Sources of Literature
2.2     The Review
2.3     Summary of Literature Review

CHAPTER THREE
RESEARCH METHODOLOGY
3.1     Research Method
3.2     Research Design
3.3     Research Sample
3.4     Measuring Instrument
3.5     Data Collection
3.6     Data Analysis
3.7     Expected Result
CHAPTER FOUR
DATA ANALYSIS AND RESULTS
4.1     Data Analysis
4.2     Results
4.3     Discussion
CHAPTER FIVE
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
5.1     Summary
5.2     Recommendations for Further Study
Bibliography

CHAPTER ONE
GENERAL INTRODUCTION
1.1   BACKGROUND TO THE STUDY
The problem of causality has been among the central concerns of many thinkers. When certain events happen, we tend to ask ‘why’. This is because such events produce some effects.  In asking the question ‘why’, we are asking for the cause of the event. We seek an explanation that would enable us understand the effect which the event produces. This explains the whole problem and notion of causality. The Ionian philosophers probably the earliest thinkers did not fail to recognize that the world as it is did not come to be without being caused by some other things.
The Ionian philosophers occupied themselves with the cosmological problem; of what substance is the universe composed? This of course was a causal question and Thales of Miletus; the first Greek philosopher posited that the primary stuff of the cosmos was ‘water’1 Anaximander, criticizing the causal theory of his predecessor held the stuff of the universe is an indefinite or boundless realm.2Anaximenes the third and last Milesian philosopher designated air as the primary substance from which all things come.3  These philosophers certainly did not regard the universe as anything other than an effect which requires a cause in order to be.  Plato equally had his version of causality which was deeply rooted in his philosophy. For Plato, the sensible world is the changing world of appearance.
In a more interesting way, the belief is a strong one among the Africans. The Africans see everything that happens to him or her as an effect of something external to him or her, his or her misfortunes are attributed to the next door neighbour who wished him bad the other day, his or her poor harvest is traceable to the anger of the gods. African thought however explains causality without actually bifurcating the metaphysical from the phenomena. In other words, the African world is one, and every effect or event in the Africa universe is explainable only with reference to a cause. Let us present statement of the problem.
1.2   STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEM
Aristotle in his First Philosophy or Metaphysics formulated the principle of causality through the study of man-made or artificial things and identified four types of causes. In Aristotle’s view, all the four causes (not a single one alone) are needed in order to produce an effect in art as well as in nature. The four causes include the formal cause (the shape or form of a thing) contributes, according to him, the “essence” of a thing. Material cause is the subject of change. Efficient cause is that which initiates activity. (The efficient cause is often known as the propelling cause.), The Final cause is the end (purpose, goal, state of completion) for which the change is produced. From the above, let us provide a problematization by ostention. When we see a rolling stone, we reason that the stone could not have caused its own movement. Then we begin to raise questions on how the stone came to be moved. This is obviously the problem with causal theory. We want to know ‘how’ A is the cause of B, and whether without A, there will not be B. This problem has dominated the discussion on causation. However, Aristotle tied the notion of cause to four factors and then believed that the, ‘Formal cause’ is the unifying force of the causes. The problematic of Aristotle’s idea of causality can be formulated thus;
1)                  How can matter or form bring about change?
2)                  If form contains within itself its own activity, do we still need a first mover (Efficient causation)?
3)                  Does passivity actually lead to change?
Nonetheless, we find that matter except acted upon cannot bring a change in itself, yet Aristotle consider the material cause as justified. The question remains, whether the four causes must be present for change to take place, or for something to come to be. The problem is, are there things that are not observed that can cause observed things? How can we balance the fact that both the material and immaterial can operate both as causes and effects. There are questions that our study of Aristotle needs to provide answers to. Let us present the methodology.














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