Primary and Secondary Qualities

In Matthew Stuart (ed.), A Companion to Locke. Blackwell. pp. 193-211 (2016)

Robert A. Wilson
La Trobe University
The first half of this review article on Locke on primary and secondary qualities leads up to a fairly straightforward reading of what Locke says about the distinction in Essay II.viii, one that, in its general outlines, represents a sympathetic understanding of Locke’s discussion. The second half of the paper turns to consider a few of the ways in which interpreting Locke on primary and secondary qualities has proven more complicated. Here we take up what is sometimes called the Berkeleyan interpretation of Locke, the understanding of Locke’s resemblance thesis, and Locke’s views of qualities and their relationship to powers.
Keywords primary and secondary qualities  Locke's metaphysics and epistemology  primary qualities  secondary qualities  17th-century philosophy  British empiricists  Locke's resemblance thesis  qualities and powers in Locke
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