David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
In Lawrence Nolan (ed.), Primary and Secondary Qualities: The Historical and Ongoing Debate. Oxford University Press (2011)
Descartes and Boyle were the most influential proponents of strict mechanist accounts of the physical world, accounts which carried with them a distinction between primary and secondary (or sensible) qualities. For both, the distinction is a piece of natural philosophy. Nevertheless the distinction is quite differently articulated, and, especially, differently grounded in the two thinkers. For Descartes, reasoned reflection reveals to us that bodies must consist in mere extension and its modifications, and that sensible qualities as we conceive of them based on sense perception can pertain only to the mind. Just how we are supposed to arrive at this realization is, this essay will argue, a deep puzzle that brings us to the basic assumptions of Descartes' metaphysics. For Boyle, by contrast, while reflection can reveal the unique explanatory status of mechanism, and, thus, the primary/secondary quality distinction, only experience can confirm its truth. Our central focus will be on Descartes, and on the question: How does he intend to remove the sensible qualities from the physical world, how does he strip them from bodies? I will try to show that Descartes has an argument that he takes to show a priori that sensible qualities cannot be attributed to the material world (as foundational qualities, or, as we conceive of them based on sense experience). The argument fails, however, leaving him with at best a partly empirical case for removing the sensible qualities, based on the purported explanatory success of his physics.
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
No references found.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Jennifer McKitrick (2002). Reid's Foundation for the Primary/Secondary Quality Distinction. Philosophical Quarterly 52 (209):478-494.
Mladen Domazet (2008). Cartesian Primary Qualities in Light of Some Contemporary Physical Explanations. Prolegomena 7 (1):21-35.
Robert Pasnau (2006). A Theory of Secondary Qualities. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (3):568–591.
Alison Simmons (2003). Descartes on the Cognitive Structure of Sensory Experience. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (3):549–579.
Lisa Downing (2001). The Uses of Mechanism: Corpuscularianism in Drafts a and B of Locke's Essay. In William Newman, John Murdoch & Cristoph Lüthy (eds.), Late Medieval and Early Modern Corpuscularian Matter Theory. E.J. Brill 515-534.
Robert Pasnau (2006). A Theory of Secondary Qualities. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (3):568-591.
Keith Allen (2008). Mechanism, Resemblance and Secondary Qualities: From Descartes to Locke. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 16 (2):273 – 291.
Nancy Maull (1978). Perception and Primary Qualities. PSA: Proceedings of the Biennial Meeting of the Philosophy of Science Association 1978:3 - 17.
Added to index2010-05-28
Total downloads89 ( #37,303 of 1,726,249 )
Recent downloads (6 months)23 ( #38,308 of 1,726,249 )
How can I increase my downloads?