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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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Secondary Qualities

Secondary Qualities

(p.79) 3 Secondary Qualities
Locke's Metaphysics

Matthew Stuart

Oxford University Press

This chapter begins by explaining Locke's distinction between two different sorts of secondary qualities. After trying, and failing, to make good sense of Locke's claim that ideas of primary qualities are resemblances of primary qualities, the status of secondary qualities is then taken up. It is argued that Locke conceives of colours and other secondary qualities as powers that bodies have to produce certain ideas in us, but powers in a degenerate sense. Secondary qualities are not dispositions, but relational features that objects have only when they are actually producing certain ideas of sense.

Keywords:   secondary qualities, resemblance, colours, dispositions

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