Final Causality: Questions

I’m studying Aristotelian philosophy as a hobby currently and getting to the topic of Final Causes I’m very confused about a few things:

  1. How is a single Final Cause discerned? It seems from different circumstances we can get different results for each object. How are we to discern the single final cause of something from that? What is the method?

  2. Are there practical predictions to grasp from accepting Final Causality?

  1. There may be more than one final cause for a thing. For example, there are certain bodily organs that have more than one function. The hearts function is to pump blood. We use final causes all the time in medical language when describing something’s function. Without it we might think of the heart as having no purpose.

  2. It means that we can make predictions about certain events due to cause and effect. For instance, throwing a rock into a window causes the glass to shatter. If we use some of the modern philosophers that disassociated effect from cause we could have all sorts of weird possibilities like the rock turning into flowers.

From what you say in your second paragraph, it seems to me that you are confusing final cause with efficient cause. I don’t see how your example works for final causation.

I think that Casabolg would develop a better understanding of how the notion of final causality has been applied if he looks for “Leibniz and final causes”. Leibniz used to say that many of his discoveries were possible thanks to this notion.

Scientific discoveries?

Well Thinkandmull, it all depends on how much you want to epistemically restrict yourself, or how much you are willing to accept the restrictions that others want to impose on you. What can be considered scientific? Only that which can be realized by means of the scientific method? How can we come to propose the basic principles of Physics, for example?

It was Leibniz who proposed the principle of conservation of momentum (the same that we learn today, and which is valid even in the relativistic physics) and if my memory is not too bad, he based his proposal on the assumption of a final cause (but don’t ask me today to tell you where he says that, because I don’t remember exactly where right now).