39 - T his makes i t hard for us to get clear on what...

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“explanation” is ambiguous in the way Aristotle claims aition is. There is no English translation of aition that is ambiguous in the way (Aristotle claims) aition is. But if we shift from the noun “cause” to the verb “makes” we may get somewhere. The ambiguity of makes Aristotle’s point may be put this way: if we ask “what makes something so-and-so?” we can give four very different sorts of answer - each appropriate to a different sense of “makes.” Consider the following sentences: 1. The table is made of wood. 2. Having four legs and a flat top makes this (count as) a table. 3. A carpenter makes a table. 4. Having a surface suitable for eating or writing makes this (work as) a table. Aristotelian versions of (1) - (4): 1a. Wood is an aition of a table. 2a. Having four legs and a flat top is an aition of a table. 3a. A carpenter is an aition of a table. 4a. Having a surface suitable for eating or writing is an aition of a table. These sentences can be disambiguated by specifying the relevant sense of aition in each case: 1b. Wood is what the table is made out of . 2b. Having four legs and a flat top is what it is to be a table. 3b. A carpenter is what produces a table. 4b. Eating on and writing on is what a table is for . Static vs. Dynamic Causes Matter and form are two of the four causes, or explanatory factors. They are used to analyze the world statically - they tell us how it is at a given moment. But they do not tell us how it came to be that way. For that we need to look at things dynamically - we need to look at causes that explain why matter has come to be formed in the way that it has. Change
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39 - T his makes i t hard for us to get clear on what...

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