Primary And Secondary Qualities Of John Locke

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The foundations for modern empiricism were laid out by John Locke, who distinguished between different kinds of qualities; primary qualities and secondary qualities. Primary qualities make up the mass, number, figure, and motion of objects. According to Locke, primary qualities do not depend on the ability to perceive due to their existence in real bodies. Locke attributed the ability to produce sensations in us, such as colours, sounds and tastes etc. to secondary qualities or powers. Unlike primary qualities they are not intrinsic to the object and instead produce an idea or experience within our minds which we ourselves perceive. Consequently it is acknowledged that secondary qualities cease to resemble anything without existing within …show more content…
Berkeley found the concept of matter, a contradiction in itself. This was due to the fact that ideas such as big/small, fast/slow are completely relative. If you were to see a car driving at 50 mph in a 20 mph zone you would perceive that to be fast. Whereas, if you were on a motorway and saw the same car going at the same speed it would appear relatively slow. Thus, if the concepts of big/small, fast/slow are relative, then extension, without the mind, and without any measurable concepts in itself is nothing at all. Therefore, if we have proved that extension cannot exist without the mind then solidity, which relies upon the concept of extension to exist, must also be a concept of the mind.

Both Berkeley and Locke agreed that when facing the question of human knowledge we don’t perceive the world as it really is. However, dissimilar to Locke, who thought that objects that existed in the world created an experience within us, Berkeley believed that although ideas do exist there is also
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Instead, Berkeley attributes their existence to the object’s subsistence in the mind of an eternal spirit. The eternal spirit is perfectly unintelligible and contains all the absurdity of abstraction. From this I take, that the eternal spirit is the universal perceiver or perception itself. The chair, mentioned earlier, doesn 't have to have a human being sitting on it for it to be perceived, the chair itself is made out of perception. All matter itself is made out of perception, ultimately it doesn 't matter if your individual consciousness can perceive it or not. The physical universe is sustained by perception.

Lastly, Berkeley addresses the obscurity of unity. If you were asked how many objects are there in this room, your answer would depend entirely upon what you are counting as an object. If in the room you located a book, do you count one book or do you also count one line, one word, one character. The unitary value of the amount of objects in the room is dependent on a particular combination of ideas created by your mind. Given that number is relative there can be be no definitive idea of

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