[ExI] consciousness and perception

Gordon Swobe gts_2000 at yahoo.com
Fri Jan 30 12:29:34 UTC 2009

--- On Wed, 1/28/09, John K Clark <jonkc at bellsouth.net> wrote:

> Locke thought movement and temperature belonged in
> different conceptual categories and now we know he was
> dead wrong; Locke didn't know the first thing about
> temperature except that if you touch something very hot it
> hurts. Locke thought movement and rest were attributes of
> an object itself and we know he was dead wrong about that too. 

I think you mischaracterize Locke. Our understanding of physics has changed since Locke's day, but these changes have not in themselves refuted his basic idea that we can distinguish at least two kinds of properties or qualities of objects.

Lockean primary qualities represent the stuff of physics. In modern language we would include among them the qualities of mass, spin, charge, wavelength, and so on. Lockean secondary qualities represent a different sort of quality, and a sort that (to me anyway) seems related somehow to whatever Brent keeps trying to say about so-called phenomenal properties. 

Locke defined secondary qualities philosophically as *the powers of objects to affect the senses*.

Using salt as an example: intelligent people of scientific mind will agree that 'salty flavor' does not exist as an intrinsic or primary quality of salt. No serious person would suggest that salt has a flavor in the absence of a taster. But most would agree nevertheless that salt has the power to taste salty, i.e., that 'salty flavor' is a Lockean secondary quality of salt.   

On this subject I think Locke merely formalized what we all understand as common sense.

I couldn't understand why the baseball kept getting bigger and bigger. Then it hit me.



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