Scholastic Qualities, Primary and Secondary

Robert Pasnau

in Primary and Secondary Qualities

Published in print April 2011 | ISBN: 9780199556151
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191725548 | DOI:
Scholastic Qualities, Primary and Secondary

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The distinction between two kinds of qualities, primary and secondary, is one of the core doctrines of Scholastic natural philosophy. Far from being an invention of the modern era, it is something to which any student of Aristotelian philosophy—which is to say anyone who studied philosophy in a European university up until the eighteenth century—would have been introduced at a tender age. The distinction is, moreover, every bit as important for Scholastic philosophers as it would become in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, since the primary qualities, on the Aristotelian tradition, are the fundamental causal agents of the natural world.

Keywords: Medieval philosophy; color; secondary qualities; primary qualities; resemblance; perception; Aristotle; projection; explanation

Chapter.  10742 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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