Laughter Ensues

In light of recent discussions here about Hume, Aquinas, and Aristotle, I though I would post this clarificatory note about a basic Aristotelian teaching from Edward Feser‘s The Last Superstition:

But Aristotle takes final causation or goal-directedness to exist throughout inorganic nature as well. The moon is “directed toward” movement around the earth, as a kind of “goal.” Fire is directed toward the production of heat, specifically, rather than cold. Water is directed toward evaporation, then condensation, then precipitation, then collection, then evaporation again, in a cyclical fashion. And so forth. Most people, including many contemporary philosophers, deeply misunderstand what Aristotle means by this. They sometimes suppose, for example, that he is making the quite absurd claim that the moon is consciously trying to go around the sun, or that fire wants to produce heat. (Laughter ensues, and then everyone goes back to praising Hume for his supposedly far-more-sober-suggestion that a brick could “conceivably” disappear into thin air or turn into a turnip.) But Aristotle never said or thought any such thing. His whole point, in fact, is that there is a kind of goal-directedness that exists even apart from conscious thought processes and intentions. [69-70]