The “Logic” of Aristotelian Causality: An Analysis of the Genesis of Artifacts

  • Jarosław Olesiak Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Institute of Philosophy
Keywords: Aristotle; philosophy of nature; cause; nature-craft analogy; artifacts


The present paper, taking as a point of departure Aristotle’s dispute with the ancient physicalists in Physics II.8–9 about the role of the final cause in nature, examines the context of the problem, his theory of the causes. Aristotle assumes an analogy between nature and craft and takes the production of artifacts to be paradigmatic. With these assumptions as guiding principles, the paper attempts to motivate his causal theory and propose what may be called a “logic” of the causes. It examines artefactual coming-to-be more closely, focusing on the aspects of Aristotle’s account that are highlighted in his explanation of natural coming-to-be: the basic character of the causes, the peculiar distinction between the causes and the accompanying the deeper coincidence among three of them, the complementarity between the final and moving causes, the nature and role of desire in coming-to-be, and the primacy of form. It introduces the notion of a trans-temporal objective whole and shows the need to consider the full whole—which includes the entire process of coming-to-be together with its source—as the proper context for a full understanding of coming-to-be. It also points out the importance of the distinction between the objective and subjective perspectives, especially useful in understanding final causality.


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