Ristotle: The Natural World is the Real World

Task Description

Answer the following 4 questions using the following source:

Aristotle. (n.d.) Metaphysics. In Aristotleas metaphysics. (1924). (W. D. Ross, Trans.). In The complete works of Aristotle. (Vol. 2). (1984). J. Barnes (Ed.). Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Chaffee, J. (2013). The philosopheras way: Thinking critically about profound ideas. (4th ed.). New York, NY: Pearson.

Lacan. J. (1949). a?The mirror stage as formative of the I function, as revealed in the psychoanalytic experience.a? In A0 ncrits: A selection. Bruce Fink (Ed.). New York, NY: W. W. Norton & Company.

After completing the required readings, craft a response to the following questions:
1. In the Meditations, Descartes raises a provocative question: how do we know that we are not now dreaming? Or, to frame the question in a more contemporary way, how do we know that we are not pods in The Matrix? Do the senses give reliable information? Can they be trusted to tell us what is real and why?
2. How does Descartesa example of the honeycomb wax demonstrate the way he uses reason to move beyond doubt into knowledge?
3. How does Descartes resolve his skeptical doubt? In other words, what rational steps does he take to move from doubt to certitude?

Ristotle: The Natural World is the Real World

Task Description

Answer the following 4 questions using the following source:

Philosophers Way, The: Thinking Critically About Profound Ideas
John Chaffee,

1. Cite an example of a thingas development, and use the four causes to explain this development.
2. Do you believe that you can trust your senses to reveal the nature of reality and why?
3. Are you a Platonist or an Aristotelian? How would you answer this question: What is real: that which is immaterial and unchanging or that which is material and in the process of development?
4. Post your response to the Discussion Forum titled for this activity.

Philosophical discourse is dialogical in the sense that it converses with and critiques the ideas of its predecessors. Aristotle was Platoas student, but over time, he found Platoas metaphysical dualism (i.e., the distinction between the eternal world of forms and the immaterial world of becoming) increasingly problematic. His primary concern was that it reduced the material realm to a?a mere empty phrase and a poetic metaphora? (Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book I, p. 1566). In other words, it devalued the material realm by reducing it to a mere shadow (or representation) of the real world (which for Plato was the realm of forms). Moreover, Aristotle accurately pointed out that Platoas static theory of forms failed to account for the biological development of an organism over time. In other words, it did not account for change. He challenged Platoas metaphysical conclusion: how could a static and ideal form explain the development of a thing over time? For example, an acorn that proceeds along a normal course of species development will eventually become an oak tree. How does a static form account for that kind of species development? For these reasons, Aristotle developed an alternative understanding of metaphysics.
He jettisoned Platoas idea that there was a separate realm of being (of forms), and instead, focused his attention on the natural world. Reality, he maintained, would not be found outside the natural world, but rather, within it. But while he eliminated Platonic forms, he did not eliminate the idea of form all together; instead, he redefined it and placed it squarely within the natural world. All substances were comprised of two categories: form (its essence) and matter (its physical a?stuffa?). This theory came to be called hylomorphism, derived from the Greek word hyle (which meant matter) and morphe (which meant form). Importantly, the form is what gave matter its structure or shape. (This would be akin to the way sculptor allows an idea to govern the shaping of the clay.)
To explain the process of change (i.e., the structuring of the matter by the form), Aristotle developed his theory of four causes. The material cause was the physical a?stuff,a? the matter. The formal cause was embedded in the matter and was its purpose. In other words, it was the intelligible idea that structured the way the matter would be shaped (or developed). The efficient cause was the a?triggering eventa? that set the development in motion (Chaffee, 2013, p. 254). The final cause was a thingas ultimate purpose. In Greek, this is called a telos, or a final goal. All these causes worked together to explain a thing.
For Aristotle, all this motion had to have a cause, an ultimate first cause. He speculated that this first cause was an unmoved prime mover, which he defined as pure rationality and pure thought. Thus, an absolute rationality, a?an impersonal teleological principlea? began the process of motion and change (Chaffee, 2013, p. 255).
This learning activity will allow you to deepen your understanding of Aristotelian metaphysics and to compare and contrast it with Platoas theory of forms.