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Locke's Metaphysics$
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Matthew Stuart

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199645114

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199645114.001.0001

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(p.33) 2 Qualities
Locke's Metaphysics

Matthew Stuart

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins with the contention that Locke does not define qualities as powers that bodies have to produce ideas in us, indeed does not define ‘quality’ at all. He does define ‘primary quality’, however. Primary qualities are features that belong to our idea of body, features that anything must have to qualify as a body. This chapter pays particular attention to Locke's accounts of the primary qualities of extension and solidity. It shows that he holds that every extended thing has infinitely many spatial parts, but that this does not settle the question of whether he is an atomist (as he understands atomism). Locke treats solidity as an all-or-none feature that confers impenetrability. Solidity is distinguished from hardness.

Keywords:   qualities, primary qualities, extension, atomism, solidity

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