Classification of knowledge
Whenever we set about studying something, we must clearly define two things:
1. The nature of the object under study: so that
we can determine whether we will be able to arrive at CERTAINTY or just at PROBABILITY.
This is particularly important in the human sciences. It would be unwise to pretend that we can always be CERTAIN
of our explanations when we are talking about psychological matters, whereas we can assume that water will, in normal earth
conditions, always boil at 100°C.
2. The perspective from which we are approaching our
object of study. Whatever we say about something may not always hold true if people look at the object of our study from
The four causes
Causality = everything that moves or changes is caused
to move or change by some other thing.
According to Aristotle, in every motion or change, there are FOUR CAUSES:
- Material cause: the matter out of which a thing is made.
- Formal cause: the outer and inner structure of whatever is being made.
- Efficient cause: the one causing the motion or change (doer, maker).
- Final cause: the goal, end or aim of the motion or change.
Aristotle was consistently TELEOLOGICAL (goal-oriented), i.e. he understood every reality as being essentially
geared towards a goal or aim.
TELOS = Greek: goal, aim, purpose; think of telephone
(to talk at a distance), television (to see at a distance), telescope (to view or observe at a distance).
The doctrine of the MEAN
Which actions are virtuous and which ones are vicious? Virtue lies in the golden mean between two extremes. This
means that you have to analyze each action in particular and look at its context to know the extremes and thus to be able
to determine where the mean might be found.