By Boris Hennig
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Additional info for Four Causes
However, perturbations on lower levels are negligible as long as a natural thing is intact and only its proximate matter is considered. Aristotle says that when a living being decays, the change it undergoes is accidental to it (Metaphysics Η 5, 1044b36-1045a2). This is to admit that to the extent to which the low level matter of a thing causes its decay, it is accidental to this thing. It is also to say that in a sense, this low level matter does not really belong to this thing. To the extent to which it retains a nature of its own, it should be treated as an external force.
5. What the Process Turns Into Instead of asking out of what a natural process comes to occur, we may again ask what it turns into when it occurs. When a beaver is felling a tree and arranging its parts in a certain way, what it is doing may be said to turn into the building of a dam. We may also say, on this basis, that the beaver acts in order to build a dam. What a process comes to be may therefore in a first approximation be taken to be any of the following: its end, its direction, the resulting process itself, or that for the sake of which it occurs.
Aristotle calls a counsellor an efficient cause of the action he recommends (Physics II 3, 195a22), and the counsellor need not be involved in this action as an agent. Likewise, when the 27 Cf. 195a22-23. He also refers to it as hothen hē kinēsis (195a8) and arkhē kinēseōs (195a11). FOUR CAUSES Chapter 1 Aristotle’s Four Causes p. 48 father is an efficient cause of his offspring, the doctor of the health of her patient, or the sperm of an animal (Physics II 3, 194b30-31 and 195a21-22), one thing is an efficient cause of another thing, or of something that happens to another thing.