12 February 2014

The Big Bang Theory Theme Song Part IV

Here are Part I, Part II, and Part III.

Have you noticed that The Big Bang Theory theme song lyrics are mostly descriptive of how the universe and humans came to be?

There are four ways to describe things that Aristotle wrote about, called Aristotle's Four Causes. They are:
  1. The material cause; What is the thing made out of?
  2. The formal cause; What is the essential structure of the thing?
  3. The final cause; Where it the thing headed? What is its purpose or ultimate orientation (telos)?
  4. The efficient cause; How did the thing get where it is? How did it come to be?
It seems as if The Big Bang Theory theme song really relays the material and efficient causes but doesn't address the formal and final causes, especially on the portion that is shown on TV.

The only lines that minimally address the formal and final causes are:
Math, science, history, unraveling the mysteries,
That all started with the big bang!
Australopithecus would really have been sick of us
Debating how we're here they're catching deer (we're catching viruses)
Religion or astronomy, Descartes or Deuteronomy
It all started with the big bang!

Music and mythology, Einstein and astrology
It all started with the big bang!
It all started with the big BANG!!!
Why does this matter? Many young people think that all one needs to learn about are the material and efficient causes, especially in school.

I was asked once by a middle school student why they needed to learn about formal and final causes (I didn't present the labels formally, but was teaching them nonetheless). The student thought that school was solely about learning what they needed to get a good job, mainly with science and math. I couldn't blame her assessment since public education (in government schools), especially now with Common Core, stresses only material and efficient causes in the classroom.

There are schools which teach the entire range of causes called classical schools (here's a link to an institute on the subject; here's a school list), but they are few in number.

From the link above:
[1] But I observed that even the good artisans fell into the same error as the poets; because they were good workmen they thought that they also knew all sorts of high matters, and this defect in them overshadowed their wisdom.... – Socrates, The Apology

[2] Hence it is that his education is called "Liberal." A habit of mind is formed which lasts through life, of which the attributes are, freedom, equitableness, calmness, moderation, and wisdom.
[3] But education is a higher word [than instruction]; it implies an action upon our mental nature, and the formation of a character; it is something individual and permanent, and is commonly spoken of in connexion with religion and virtue. When, then, we speak of the communication of Knowledge as being Education, we thereby really imply that that Knowledge is a state or condition of mind.... Newman, Idea of a University
May we return to learning about the fullness of God's creation with all its causes.

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