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Aristotle: Natural Changes and His Theory of Form Essay

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Updated: Sep 12th, 2021

Introduction

Aristotle’s mentor, Plato, focused on eternal forms as the source of the ultimate reality. However, Aristotle regarded that ultimate reality can be found on physical objects. Plato and Aristotle also differ in their view on how reality can be known; Plato asserted that it was through reason while Aristotle stated that it was through experience (Waggoner, 1996).

This reality, being the focus of their discussion is what Aristotle considered as form. The form of an object is the arrangement of the comprising components making up the object in focus (“Form”). He also coined the term matter as potential. For him, the form of an object is not detached from the object itself (“Aristotle”). This implies that any form is a form of something. Form and matter make up an organism (Waggoner, 1996). In living beings, the form is the soul.

Main body

In his book Physics, he stressed matter and form which he did not do in his other work the Categories. Accordingly, in Physics, he was focused on the subjects of change. This is the counterpart of the subjects of predication in the Categories. Predication is to deny or affirm the subject (“Aristotle’s Logic”). Since a subject of change undergoes modification over time, it can have two or more predicates existing at different times. Aristotle also tells us that matter, form, and hylomorphic compounds—compounds of matter and form—are all subjects.

For Aristotle, the condition of the universe is eternal (Smith, 2004). According to him, change recurring but the general order would never change. In addition to that, he viewed nature as an inner law of change and being at rest (Bodnar, 2006).

Incorporating the concepts of form and change, Aristotle asserted that substances can both be subjects of change and prediction. The changes pointed out involved growth, movement, and destruction. His theory of change states that the fundamental subject of change is matter. In Physics, change is regarded as a process wherein matter takes in reality. In the same process, matter can also lose reality or form.

To sum up, the points presented by Aristotle, the discussion on the form and matter of a thing is essential in explaining his points on changes. As we can see through his ideas, he incorporated form, matter, and changes as he explained different phenomena observed in the universe.

Change is inevitable, so goes the cliché, and Aristotle provided a better explanation for this long-existing passage. Regarding what Bodan has explained, Aristotle considered nature as a principle of change. One good example to illustrate the predictability of change is the everyday routine observable in the environment. The rain pours, the land dries and the rain pours again. Seasons change as the year goes by. This does not only apply to the process the earth undergoes. This can also be seen in humans. Humans grow and become old. That is the evident change Aristotle is pertaining to. As he had said, change involves growth, movement, and destruction. That is exactly what we humans undergo if ever we experience the full circle of life.

Conclusion

Change and form were just two of the numerous concepts addressed by Aristotle. The environment was his basis for the formulation of his theories. And the same environment proved to be the living evidence of his works which became the foundation of many existing disciplines.

References

  1. “Aristotle”. (2007). In Encyclopædia Britannica.
  2. Bodan, I. (2006). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web.
  3. “form”. (2007). In Encyclopædia Britannica.
  4. Marc Cohen, S. (2003). Aristotle’s Metaphysics. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web.
  5. Waggoner, B. (1996). “”. Web.
  6. Smith, R. (2004) Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Web.
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