Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Primary and Secondary QualitiesThe Historical and Ongoing Debate$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Lawrence Nolan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199556151

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556151.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 10 July 2020

The Distinction between Primary and Secondary Qualities in Ancient Greek Philosophy

The Distinction between Primary and Secondary Qualities in Ancient Greek Philosophy

Chapter:
(p.15) 1 The Distinction between Primary and Secondary Qualities in Ancient Greek Philosophy
Source:
Primary and Secondary Qualities
Author(s):

Mi-Kyoung Lee (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199556151.003.0002

This chapter argues that the primary–secondary quality distinction can be found in ancient Greek philosophers in the form of two distinctions, one between the intrinsic qualities of basic matter and the derivative qualities of composites, and another between appearance and reality. The first ancient Greek thinkers to consider the place of sensible qualities such as colors and smells in the natural world were Plato and Democritus. Both draw a kind of distinction between the intrinsic qualities of basic matter and the non-intrinsic qualities of composites and aggregates. Aristotle offers his own version of this kind of distinction, emphasizing that sensible qualities have causal efficacy in their powers to affect perceivers in certain ways. Epicurus went even further in arguing that sensible qualities are relational powers, and like relational powers are real properties of things, not to be dismissed as merely subjective appearances.

Keywords:   Aristotle, atomism, Democritus, Epicurus, matter, perception, primary qualities, Plato, secondary qualities, Theophrastus

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .