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Consciousness and the World$
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Brian O'Shaughnessy

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780199256723

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2003

DOI: 10.1093/0199256721.001.0001

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Secondary Qualities

Secondary Qualities

Chapter:
(p.515) 19 Secondary Qualities
Source:
Consciousness and the World
Author(s):

Brian O'Shaughnessy (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/0199256721.003.0020

Secondary qualities are essential to sight, hearing, smell, and taste, and correspond to the sensations definitive of each sense. They are relative, first to which beings they appear to, secondly to the conditions under which they do so. Dispositionist analyses are examined, along with materialist, and rejected: the former because colour is predicable of after‐images, the latter because a (open‐ended) disjunct of material properties in principle ‘found’ any (determinate) secondary quality. While attributions to physical objects are relative, attribution to sensations are absolute: sensations of red are absolutely, intrinsically, essentially red. ‘Red’ names the look predicable necessarily of the sensation of red and contingently and derivatively of much else. What is of central importance to the secondary quality, indeed the rationale behind the very concept, is that it is the only psychological phenomenon that can be an immediate material or external object of noticing. From this unique property, compounded with the psycho‐physical nomic situation governing its objectification, flows the special utility of the secondary quality. Namely, to take its place as material object for the Attention in an experience in which it simultaneously qualifies a whole string of causally interrelated items: sensation, light, surface, side, and object.

Keywords:   dispositional, dispositionism, materialism, noticing, object, secondary quality, seeing, sensation

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