David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (3):568–591 (2006)
No philosophical intuition has a longer history than that which divides sensible qualities into two kinds, primary and secondary. Something like it appears in Democritus, nearly 2500 years ago, and has been continuously maintained in some form or another ever since then. Philosophers today largely continue to think that there is something right about the distinction, even while it remains notoriously difficult to find agreement on just where its ultimate basis lies. As Mark Johnston (1992) puts it, the primary–secondary distinction has “the dubious distinction of being better understood in extension rather than intension. Most of us can generate two lists under the two headings, but the principles by which the lists are generated are controversial, even obscure” (229). I hope to shed some light on this obscure question. My thesis, in brief, is that the secondary qualities are those qualities of objects that bear a certain relation to our sensory powers: roughly, they are those qualities that we can readily detect only through a certain distinctive phenomenal experience. Contrary to what is sometimes supposed, there is nothing about the world itself (independent of our minds) that determines the distinction between primary and secondary qualities. Instead, a theory of the secondary qualities must be grounded in facts about how we conceive of these qualities, and ultimately in facts about human perception
|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
Edward W. Averill (1982). The Primary-Secondary Quality Distinction. Philosophical Review 91 (July):343-362.
Jonathan Bennett (1965). Substance, Reality, and Primary Qualities. American Philosophical Quarterly 2 (January):1-17.
Jonathan Francis Bennett (1971). Locke, Berkeley, Hume: Central Themes. Oxford,Clarendon Press.
George Berkeley (1965). Berkeley's Philosophical Writings. New York, Collier Books.
Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert (1997). Readings on Color, Volume 1: The Philosophy of Color. MIT Press.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Mi-Kyoung Lee (2011). The Distinction Between Primary and Secondary Qualities in Ancient Greek Philosophy. In Lawrence Nolan (ed.), Primary and Secondary Qualities: The Historical and Ongoing Debate. Oxford University Press. 15.
Jennifer McKitrick (2002). Reid's Foundation for the Primary/Secondary Quality Distinction. Philosophical Quarterly 52 (209):478-494.
Steffen Borge (2007). Some Remarks on Reid on Primary and Secondary Qualities. Acta Analytica 22 (1):74-84.
Robert A. Wilson (2002). Locke's Primary Qualities. Journal of the History of Philosophy 40 (2):201-228.
Edwin McCann (2011). Locke's Distinction Between Primary Primary Qualities and Secondary Primary Qualities. In Lawrence Nolan (ed.), Primary and Secondary Qualities: The Historical and Ongoing Debate. Oxford University Press.
Robert Pasnau (2007). Democritus and Secondary Qualities. Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 89 (2):99-121.
Robert A. Wilson (forthcoming). Primary and Secondary Qualities. In Matthew Stuart (ed.), Blackwell Companion to Locke. Blackwell.
Robert Pasnau (2006). A Theory of Secondary Qualities. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 73 (3):568-591.
Lisa Downing (2011). Sensible Qualities and Material Bodies in Descartes and Boyle. In Lawrence Nolan (ed.), Primary and Secondary Qualities: The Historical and Ongoing Debate. Oxford University Press.
Added to index2009-01-28
Total downloads63 ( #28,976 of 1,410,432 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #177,872 of 1,410,432 )
How can I increase my downloads?