formal cause

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Source: Wikipedia contributors, ""Formal Cause,"" Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (accessed November 27, 2006).
The Formal Cause is a concept used by Aristotle, and originates from the idea of the form by Plato and Socrates.

The formal cause according to which a statue is made is the idea existing in the first place as exemplar in the mind of the sculptor, and in the second place as intrinsic, determining cause, embodied in the matter. Formal cause could only refer to the essential quality of causation. A deeper contemplation reveals a formal cause as the ever existing truth of capacity. Thus, the capacity of the human genome to accompany the existence of a human being presumes that the capacity to be a human being pre-exists the human being. That pre-existence consists of the essential capacity of the specific genome to co-exist with the human in a very significant and specific way. The dog genome does not cause a human though elements of dog genome may coexist with the human genome.

A more simple example of the formal cause is the blueprint or plan that one has before making or causing a human made object to exist. Plato would say that a perfect circle exists, or the form of a perfect circle exists and that all other circles are an imperfect copy of the formal cause.