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primary quality


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In philosophy, a property such as solidity, physical extension, shape, motion or rest, or number that is inherent in an object or a group of objects and is capable of being experienced directly by an observer. It is distinguished from a secondary quality, such as sound, colour, taste, smell, warmth, or cold that is merely a property capable of producing in an observer a sensation that does not correspond to the property itself. This distinction was first made by the Greek philosopher Democritus of Abdera (?460–?370 bc) and was accepted by the French philosopher René Descartes (1596–1650) and the English physicist and mathematician Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727) before being fully developed and given its most influential formulation in 1690 by the English philosopher John Locke (1632–1704) in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (Book 2, Chapter 8). See also successive contrast.

Subjects: Psychology.


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