Value Unit 02


In order to know what something is, it is necessary to know (a) where it comes from, (b) who or what made it; (c) what it's made of; and (d) what it's for.  The ancient Greeks called these identifiers the "Four Causes" and they have have a very important function to play in Academic writing too.


The "Four Causes"

According to the Greek philosopher Aristotle, each thing is caused in four ways: material, formal, efficient, and final.  It is only when we know what these four causes are can we say that we know what something is.  This applies to everything, including abstract concepts, such as Justice and Love.  Aristotle uses the example of a statue of the Greek god Zeus as an example, explained in the key terms below.


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A key concept in Greek thought is that of “Aporia”.


Aporia is the sense of being unsettled in your preconceptions when you are suddenly confronted with facts and good reasons that force you to start changing your world view, and to start thinking about things in a totally different way.

This sense of having to rethink your world-view can be unsettling, but it is an essential part of learning.  In fact, learning is not possible without aporia.

Further Reading


"De Anima"

Tolkien on


"The Extraordinary Cabman"