Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name







Lewis, John U.,




Beginning with Aristotle, many philosophers have for centuries thought it important to consider the ends to which things, whether living or non-living, tend by nature. These ends have come to be known as final causes of things. But in the early decades of the seventeenth century we find some philosophers who think it undesirable to consider final causes in physics. Two such philosophers are Francis Bacon and Rene Descartes. In order to find out why they are of this opinion, we will consider and critically evaluate the reasons they give for maintaining their position. Before we do, however, it is important to lay out ancient accounts of final causality so that we can better understand what it is that our modern philosophers banished from their physics. The two accounts that we will consider first are those of Aristotle and St. Thomas Aquinas. Aristotle's account is important because he can properly be called the father of final causality, while Aquinas' account is one of the most influential Christian interpretations of Aristotle. It is also important to consider Robert Boyle on this topic because he is one of the seventeenth-century philosophers who were opposed to Descartes' banishment of final causes. In the course of our evaluation of the treatment of final causes by our three modern philosophers it will become necessary to raise an important question: Do they show a sound understanding of Aristotelian doctrine of finality? If they do not, it cannot really be said that they have offered a criticism worth taking seriously.Dept. of Philosophy. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1993 .P555. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 32-02, page: 0440. Adviser: John U. Lewis. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1993.