Quality (philosophy)

Quality (philosophy)

A quality (from Lat. "qualitas" [Morwood, 1995] ) is an attribute or a property. Attributes are ascribable, by a subject, whereas properties are possessible [Cargile, 1995] . Some philosophers assert that a quality cannot be defined [Metaphysics of Quality] . In contemporary philosophy, the idea of qualities and especially how to distinguish certain kinds of qualities from one another remains controversial. [Cargile, 1995]

Background

Aristotle presented his idea of qualities in his Categories (Aristotle). According to him, qualities may be attributed to things and persons or be possessed by them. There are four Aristotelian qualities: habits and dispositions, natural capabilities and incapabilities, affective qualities and affections, and shape. [Studtmann, 2007]

Locke presented a distinction between primary and secondary qualities in his An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. For Locke, a quality is an idea of a sensation or a perception. Locke further asserts that qualities can be divided in two kinds: primary and secondary qualities. Primary qualities are intrinsic to an object—a thing or a person—whereas secondary qualities are dependent on the interpretation of the subjective mode and the context of appearance. [Cargile, 1995] For example, a shadow is a secondary quality. It requires a certain lighting to be attributable to an object. For another example, consider the mass of an object. It is intrinsic to the object because the mass of an object relates directly to the amount and type of atoms it contains and is therefore a primary quality. Newton's law of universal gravitation states that the weight of an object is dictated by the attraction of the Earth to said collection of atoms and is therefore dependent on distance from the Earth thus making it a secondary quality.

Specific qualities related to philosophy include qualia and quality of life.

A Post-Pragmatistic Conception of Quality

Philosophy and common sense tend to see Quality as related either to subjective feelings or to objective facts. The subject-object in question might be
*a concrete and functional (e.g. Aristotelian) value to be learnt and applied ("a and b"), or
*a psychic (e.g. platonic) ideal to be apprehended and represented ("c").
*A third view tends to see Quality not as a secondary value that something has, rather a primary truth which comprises apparent subjects and objects ("d").

So the Quality of something depends on the criteria being applied to it. From the neutral point of view, the Quality of something is simply the inseparable sum of its essential attributes or properties and the Quality of something does not determine its value (the philosophical value as well as economic value).

Subjectively, something might be good because it is useful, because it is beautiful, or simply because it exists. Determining or finding Quality therefore involves an understanding of use, beauty and existence - what is useful, what is beautiful and what exists. The usefulness aspect is reflected in the common usage of quality.

Robert M. Pirsig, in his book "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance", studies the Metaphysics of Quality, and examines the distinctions and relationship between classical and romantic Quality, seeking to reconcile the two views and understand how they stand in relationship to each other.

In this context the two aspects of classical object-oriented and romantic subject-oriented Quality roughly parallel "aesthetic Quality" and "functional Quality". The resolution of the book points to a view of Quality which relegates this subject-object dualism to a product of a non-dualistic Absolute.

References

Morwood, J. (Ed.) (1995). "The Pocket Oxford Latin Dictionary." Oxford.

Cargile, J. (1995). qualities. in Honderich, T. (Ed.) (2005). "The Oxford Companion to Philosophy" (2nd ed.). Oxford.

Studtmann, P. (2007). Aristotle's Categories. in Zalta, E. N. (Ed.) "Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy" (2008). Stanford.
http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-categories/#Quality


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Quality (disambiguation) — Quality may refer to:Philosophy* Quality, a measure of excellence * Excellence itself * Metaphysical properties of an object * Philosophical attributes of an object ** Also see attribute * Quality (philosophy), the essence of an objectcience*… …   Wikipedia

  • Philosophy and literature — is the literary treatment of philosophers and philosophical themes, and the philosophical treatment of issues raised by literature.The philosophy of literatureStrictly speaking, the philosophy of literature is a branch of aesthetics, the branch… …   Wikipedia

  • Philosophy of Immanuel Kant —     Philosophy of Immanuel Kant     † Catholic Encyclopedia ► Philosophy of Immanuel Kant     Kant s philosophy is generally designated as a system of transcendental criticism tending towards Agnosticism in theology, and favouring the view that… …   Catholic encyclopedia

  • Philosophy of music — Philosophy ( …   Wikipedia

  • Quality management — is a method for ensuring that all the activities necessary to design, develop and implement a product or service are effective and efficient with respect to the system and its performance. Quality management can be considered to have three main… …   Wikipedia

  • quality — 1 Quality, property, character, attribute, accidentall denote one of the intelligible marks or indications by means of which a thing may be identified or its constitution be understood. Quality is the term of widest application and may designate… …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • quality of life — See happiness …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Philosophy of healthcare — The philosophy of healthcare is the study of the ethics, processes, and people which constitute the maintenance of health for human beings. (Although veterinary concerns are worthy to note, the body of thought regarding their methodologies and… …   Wikipedia

  • philosophy, Western — Introduction       history of Western philosophy from its development among the ancient Greeks to the present.       This article has three basic purposes: (1) to provide an overview of the history of philosophy in the West, (2) to relate… …   Universalium

  • Philosophy of mind — A phrenological mapping[1] of the brain. Phrenology was among the first attempts to correlate mental functions with specific parts of the brain. Philosophy of mind is a branch of philosophy that studies the nature of the mind, mental even …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.