Metaphysics

.. le, medical knowledge can produce either illness or health and a hot thing can only produce heat. The reason he gives for this is that a rational potential is a rational account and a rational account necessarily reveals the need of its object as well as its object. A non-rational potential cannot produce or receive contraries since contraries cannot occur in the same thing at once. A rational potentiality can produce contraries only because the contraries are not in a thing.

Aristotle notes that a complete potentiality implies a partial potentiality, but that the converse is not generally true. Aristotle says that a potential is “a potentiality to do something, to do it at some time, and to do it in some way (and however many other conditions must be present in the definition)”. A potentiality is said to be realized when the change described takes place. A non-rational potential is realized when its conditions are met and there is no external barrier. A rational potentiality requires an element of “desire or decision” before it is necessarily realized.

Clearly, a rational potentiality cannot possibly be realized in both of its contrary ways at once. Having finished with his discussion of potentiality, Aristotle now moves on to look at actuality. Since actuality is the realization of potentiality, there will be two types of actuality correspondent to the two types of potentiality previously mentioned. Aristotle says that “in some cases the actuality is that of motion in relation to potentiality, and in other cases it is the actuality of substance in relation to matter”. He describes actuality in relation to potentiality with a series of analogies.

Some of these analogies seem to be illustrative of actuality as motion. Finally, Aristotle addresses the question of how we assign potentialities to things. He says that in the case of rational potentiality, we say that A is potentially B if A realizes B whenever it wishes to and nothing external prevents it. In the case of passive (non-rational) potentiality, we say that A is potentially B if nothing internal prevents it from doing so. For example, wood is potentially a fire. This is a case of passive potentiality.

In the case where potentiality is internal to the thing we say that A is potentially B if nothing external prevents it from realizing B. For example, a seed in soil is potentially a tree. Aristotle doesn’t mention active non-rational potentiality, but it is probably the same. V. Unmoved Mover In general, Aristotle does not seem to think that a cause necessitates effect.

However, the Unmoved Mover is a special case. Since motion is necessary, the Unmoved Mover must exist, and it must at all times produce motion. Aristotle makes an important distinction, between necessity-as-compulsion, and simple necessity. Nothing compels the Unmoved Mover to exist or to cause motion – He is an absolute first principle, unaffected by anything else. The unmoved mover exists and acts with necessity, in the sense that it is impossible that the mover not exist or not act.

Simple necessity is a condition that “could not be otherwise.” Aristotle argues that the Unmoved Mover must be immaterial, since if He were material, He could move other things only by moving Himself, which would raise the necessity of explaining the motion of the Mover. Like Plato, Aristotle quickly concludes that this immaterial being must be a mind. The most interesting inference about the Unmoved Mover that Aristotle draws concerns the issues of potentiality and actuality. Aristotle explains the possibility of enduring substances that endure through time by distinguishing potentiality and actuality. An enduring thing is called a (primary) substance.

Each substance has a fixed essence, which determines which properties or attributes it can possess, either potentially or actually. Aristotle uses the word “potentially” in two different ways. Sometimes it means “merely potentially”. The potential properties of a substance are constant over time: What changes is which of these properties are actual and which are not. These variable properties are called “accidents”.

All change is change in the accidents of a substance. ETHICS Aristotle viewed ethics as an attempt to find out our chief end or highest good. Aspirations and desires must have some final object or pursuit. The chief end, according to Aristotle, is happiness. Unlike Plato’s self-existing good, Aristotle believed happiness must be based on human nature, and begin from the facts of personal experience.

It must be found in work and life; that true happiness is found in the active life of a rational being or in a perfect realization and outworking of the true soul and self throughout a lifetime. Aristotle, according to Sanderson Beck, considered the life of money making constrained, because wealth is only good as a means. He found that human good is the exercise of human faculties especially reason, according to the best virtues which, when done over a lifetime, results in happiness. The virtuous person is more likely to be happy permanently. A person can be happy even if they are under duress financially if they bear the burden with grace.

Aristotle believed that good was actual not just something could be merely obtained. He believed that ethical qualities could be destroyed by excess or defect. Even too much of a good thing could be bad. For example, if someone fears everything, they will become a coward, while someone who has no fear acts recklessly. Someone who overindulges in pleasures is undisciplined, while those who avoid every pleasure are insensitive. Humans have the ability to control desires.

He calls this “moral virtue” and is the focus of morality. Our ability to control our desires is not instinctive, but learned from both teaching and practice. Problems can occur if we regulate our desires too much or too little. “Intellectual virtue” is the purely rational part; the part responsible for the ability to contemplate, reason and formulate scientific principles. Friendship is vital to the human soul according to Aristotle.

If not itself a virtue, then it can be associated with virtue and is helpful living a moral life. A true friend, according to Aristotle, is a second self, and the true moral value of friendship lies in the fact that the friend presents to us a mirror of good actions, and makes us more aware of our conscious and our appreciation of life. Aristotle believed that to be happy you need good friends – not too many as it is more practical to have just a few intimate friends. “For without friends no one would choose to live, though he had all other goods.” Our virtues and morals form our ethics. Choice is critical in ethics. We have the ability to choose between good and evil.

Good conduct arises from habits that occur because of repeated action and correction. Socrates believed that knowing what is right always results in doing it. Aristotle disagreed. Not doing what is right, even after giving it much thought, is a failure in morality. According to Aristotle, we are genuinely happy when we are virtuous and moral. Philosophy Essays.