History of Philosophy Quarterly 24 (3):221 - 235 (2007)

R. Matthew Shockey
Indiana University South Bend
With the exception of solidity, Locke's list of primary qualities matches his list of ideas of "divers senses," that is, ideas that are perceived in multiple sensory modalities. I argue that for these ideas, the fact that they are robust in our sensory experience in a way that single-modality ideas are not provides the main reason for taking them to be ideas of primary qualities. Solidity, however, is taken as primary because it is ineliminable from experience in a way that other ideas are not, and because the multiply-sensed ideas are all tied to it. Since solidity is experienced through touch, Locke is thus offering us an account of primary quality perception grounded in our embodied interaction with the world.
Keywords Locke  primary qualities  secondary qualities  embodiment  substance  perception
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