The theory or study of the process of potentiality to actuality is one of the key themes of Aristotle’s philosophy and metaphysics. He uses the two notions, potentiality and actuality as tools of comprehension of the reality. Potentiality refers to the capacity or power one has to come to be in actuality. It is life’s energy that potentially exists. Actuality is the fulfillment of what needs to be done in order for that something to become reality. These are two very different things. Aristotle believed that within every man there is a natural movement towards fulfillment. He understands activity of life as the development from potentiality to actuality.
Aristotle’s doctrine of the four causes is a crucial part of his works. He uses the four causes to explain or account for all things in the natural world. They are answers to the questions “why?” or “what is the explaination for this?” The word causes is not to be taken in terms of modern day cause and effect. It is important to try and think as they did is Aristotle’s era. It is substances that have a cause.
The first of Aristotle’s causes is the material cause, which is essentially an explanation of what something is made of. The raw material, the house is made of wood. Second is the formal cause. The formal cause is the thing’s shape, essence or form. This is the definition of the matter. The intention of the builder was to build a house. The wood and nails aren’t just lying in random order. Next is the efficient cause which is the source of the primary principle of change or stability; the motion or energy that changes the matter. The saw and hammer changed the form of the wood, in turn putting the house in order. Lastly there is the final cause. This is the end cause. “What is it for”, “what is it’s purpose.” The purpose of building the house is for a family to live in. It was built in a manner to suit a particular family’s personal needs or desires.
Aristotle’s theory of potentiality...