Quality (philosophy)

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In philosophy, a quality is an attribute or a property characteristic of an object. [1] In contemporary philosophy the idea of qualities, and especially how to distinguish certain kinds of qualities from one another, remains controversial. [1]

Philosophy intellectual and/or logical study of general and fundamental problems

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental questions about existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. Such questions are often posed as problems to be studied or resolved. The term was probably coined by Pythagoras. Philosophical methods include questioning, critical discussion, rational argument, and systematic presentation. Classic philosophical questions include: Is it possible to know anything and to prove it? What is most real? Philosophers also pose more practical and concrete questions such as: Is there a best way to live? Is it better to be just or unjust? Do humans have free will?

In mathematics, logic, and philosophy, a property is a characteristic of an object; a red object is said to have the property of redness. The property may be considered a form of object in its own right, able to possess other properties. A property, however, differs from individual objects in that it may be instantiated, and often in more than one thing. It differs from the logical/mathematical concept of class by not having any concept of extensionality, and from the philosophical concept of class in that a property is considered to be distinct from the objects which possess it. Understanding how different individual entities can in some sense have some of the same properties is the basis of the problem of universals. The terms attribute and quality have similar meanings.

Object (philosophy) Technical term in modern philosophy often used in contrast to the term subject

An object is a technical term in modern philosophy often used in contrast to the term subject. A subject is an observer and an object is a thing observed. For modern philosophers like Descartes, consciousness is a state of cognition that includes the subject—which can never be doubted as only it can be the one who doubts—and some object(S) that may be considered as not having real or full existence or value independent of the subject who observes it. Metaphysical frameworks also differ in whether they consider objects existing independently of their properties and, if so, in what way.



Aristotle analyzed qualities in his logical work, the Categories. To him, qualities are hylomorphically–formal attributes, such as "white" or "grammatical". Categories of state, such as "shod" and "armed" are also non–essential qualities (katà symbebekós). [2] Aristotle observed: "one and the selfsame substance, while retaining its identity, is yet capable of admitting contrary qualities. The same individual person is at one time white, at another black, at one time warm, at another cold, at one time good, at another bad. This capacity is found nowhere else... it is the peculiar mark of substance that it should be capable of admitting contrary qualities; for it is by itself changing that it does so". [3] Aristotle described four types of qualitative opposites: correlatives,contraries,privatives and positives. [4]

Aristotle philosopher in ancient Greece

Aristotle was a philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, the founder of the Lyceum and the Peripatetic school of philosophy and Aristotelian tradition. Along with his teacher Plato, he is considered the "Father of Western Philosophy". His writings cover many subjects – including physics, biology, zoology, metaphysics, logic, ethics, aesthetics, poetry, theatre, music, rhetoric, psychology, linguistics, economics, politics and government. Aristotle provided a complex synthesis of the various philosophies existing prior to him, and it was above all from his teachings that the West inherited its intellectual lexicon, as well as problems and methods of inquiry. As a result, his philosophy has exerted a unique influence on almost every form of knowledge in the West and it continues to be a subject of contemporary philosophical discussion.

Logic the systematic study of the form of arguments

Logic is the systematic study of the form of valid inference, and the most general laws of truth. A valid inference is one where there is a specific relation of logical support between the assumptions of the inference and its conclusion. In ordinary discourse, inferences may be signified by words such as therefore, hence, ergo, and so on.

<i>Categories</i> (Aristotle) work by Aristotle

The Categories is a text from Aristotle's Organon that enumerates all the possible kinds of things that can be the subject or the predicate of a proposition. They are "perhaps the single most heavily discussed of all Aristotelian notions". The work is brief enough to be divided, not into books as is usual with Aristotle's works, but into fifteen chapters.

John Locke presented a distinction between primary and secondary qualities in 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. [1] For example, a shadow is a secondary quality. It requires a certain lighting to be applied to an object. For another example, consider the mass of an object. Weight is a secondary quality since, as a measurement of gravitational force, it varies depending on the distance to, and mass of, very massive objects like the Earth, as described by Newton's law. It could be thought that mass is intrinsic to an object, and thus a primary quality. In the context of relativity, the idea of mass quantifying an amount of matter requires caution. The relativistic mass varies for variously traveling observers; then there is the idea of rest mass or invariant mass (the magnitude of the energy-momentum 4-vector [5] ), basically a system's relativistic mass in its own rest frame of reference. (Note, however, that Aristotle drew a distinction between qualification and quantification; a thing's quality can vary in degree). [6] Only an isolated system's invariant mass in relativity is the same as observed in variously traveling observers' rest frames, and conserved in reactions; moreover, a system's heat, including the energy of its massless particles such as photons, contributes to the system's invariant mass (indeed, otherwise even an isolated system's invariant mass would not be conserved in reactions); even a cloud of photons traveling in different directions has, as a whole, a rest frame and a rest energy equivalent to invariant mass. [7] Thus, to treat rest mass (and by that stroke, rest energy) as an intrinsic quality distinctive of physical matter raises the question of what is to count as physical matter. Little of the invariant mass of a hadron (for example a proton or a neutron) consists in the invariant masses of its component quarks (in a proton, around 1%) apart from their gluon particle fields; most of it consists in the quantum chromodynamics binding energy of the (massless) gluons (see Quark#Mass).

John Locke English philosopher and physician

John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism". Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Sir Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.

<i>An Essay Concerning Human Understanding</i> book

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is a work by John Locke concerning the foundation of human knowledge and understanding. It first appeared in 1689 with the printed title An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding. He describes the mind at birth as a blank slate filled later through experience. The essay was one of the principal sources of empiricism in modern philosophy, and influenced many enlightenment philosophers, such as David Hume and George Berkeley.

Idea Mental image or concept

In philosophy, ideas are usually taken as mental representational images of some object. Ideas can also be abstract concepts that do not present as mental images. Many philosophers have considered ideas to be a fundamental ontological category of being. The capacity to create and understand the meaning of ideas is considered to be an essential and defining feature of human beings. In a popular sense, an idea arises in a reflexive, spontaneous manner, even without thinking or serious reflection, for example, when we talk about the idea of a person or a place. A new or original idea can often lead to innovation.

Conceptions of quality as metaphysical and ontological

Philosophy and common sense tend to see qualities as related either to subjective feelings or to objective facts. The qualities of something depends on the criteria being applied to and, from a neutral point of view, do 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 qualities therefore involves understanding what is useful, what is beautiful and what exists. Commonly, quality can mean degree of excellence, as in, "a quality product" or "work of average quality". It can also refer to a property of something such as "the addictive quality of nicotine". [8] In his book, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance , Robert M. Pirsig examines concepts of quality in classical and romantic, seeking a Metaphysics of Quality and a reconciliation of those views in terms of non-dualistic holism.

Common sense set of widely accepted beliefs

Common sense is sound practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge that is shared by nearly all people. The first type of common sense, good sense, can be described as "the knack for seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done." The second type is sometimes described as folk wisdom, "signifying unreflective knowledge not reliant on specialized training or deliberative thought." The two types are intertwined, as the person who has common sense is in touch with common-sense ideas, which emerge from the lived experiences of those commonsensical enough to perceive them.

Relate is a charity providing relationship support throughout the United Kingdom. Services include counselling for couples, families, young people and individuals, sex therapy, mediation and training courses.

Subjectivity is a central philosophical concept, related to consciousness, agency, personhood, reality, and truth, which has been variously defined by sources. Three common definitions include that subjectivity is the quality or condition of:

Related Research Articles

In ontology, the different kinds or ways of being are called categories of being; or simply categories. To investigate the categories of being is to determine the most fundamental and the broadest classes of entities. A distinction between such categories, in making the categories or applying them, is called an ontological distinction.

Elementary particle Quantum particle having no known substructure

In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle with no sub structure, thus not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be elementary include the fundamental fermions, which generally are "matter particles" and "antimatter particles", as well as the fundamental bosons, which generally are "force particles" that mediate interactions among fermions. A particle containing two or more elementary particles is a composite particle.

Quantum chromodynamics theory of strong interactions, a fundamental force describing the interactions between quarks and gluons, which make up hadrons such as the proton, neutron and pion

In theoretical physics, quantum chromodynamics (QCD) is the theory of the strong interaction between quarks and gluons, the fundamental particles that make up composite hadrons such as the proton, neutron and pion. QCD is a type of quantum field theory called a non-abelian gauge theory, with symmetry group SU(3). The QCD analog of electric charge is a property called color. Gluons are the force carrier of the theory, like photons are for the electromagnetic force in quantum electrodynamics. The theory is an important part of the Standard Model of particle physics. A large body of experimental evidence for QCD has been gathered over the years.

Substance theory, or substance–attribute theory, is an ontological theory about objecthood positing that a substance is distinct from its properties. A thing-in-itself is a property-bearer that must be distinguished from the properties it bears.

Conservation of mass conservation law for mass (ultimately equivalent to conservation of energy)

The law of conservation of mass or principle of mass conservation states that for any system closed to all transfers of matter and energy, the mass of the system must remain constant over time, as system's mass cannot change, so quantity can neither be added nor be removed. Hence, the quantity of mass is conserved over time.

Invariant mass bodys intrinsic mass (or equivalent intrinsic energy), motion-independent (Lorentz invariant); equals total mass (or energy) when at rest

The invariant mass, rest mass, intrinsic mass, proper mass, or in the case of bound systems simply mass, is the portion of the total mass of an object or system of objects that is independent of the overall motion of the system. More precisely, it is a characteristic of the system's total energy and momentum that is the same in all frames of reference related by Lorentz transformations. If a center-of-momentum frame exists for the system, then the invariant mass of a system is equal to its total mass in that "rest frame". In other reference frames, where the system's momentum is nonzero, the total mass of the system is greater than the invariant mass, but the invariant mass remains unchanged.

Subatomic particle Particle whose size or mass is less than that of the atom, or of which the atom is composed; small quantum particle

In the physical sciences, subatomic particles are particles much smaller than atoms. The two types of subatomic particles are: elementary particles, which according to current theories are not made of other particles; and composite particles. Particle physics and nuclear physics study these particles and how they interact. The idea of a particle underwent serious rethinking when experiments showed that light could behave like a stream of particles as well as exhibiting wave-like properties. This led to the new concept of wave–particle duality to reflect that quantum-scale "particles" behave like both particles and waves. Another new concept, the uncertainty principle, states that some of their properties taken together, such as their simultaneous position and momentum, cannot be measured exactly. In more recent times, wave–particle duality has been shown to apply not only to photons but to increasingly massive particles as well.

Annihilation quantum field theoretic process of particle–antiparticle annihilation

In particle physics, annihilation is the process that occurs when a subatomic particle collides with its respective antiparticle to produce other particles, such as an electron colliding with a positron to produce two photons. The total energy and momentum of the initial pair are conserved in the process and distributed among a set of other particles in the final state. Antiparticles have exactly opposite additive quantum numbers from particles, so the sums of all quantum numbers of such an original pair are zero. Hence, any set of particles may be produced whose total quantum numbers are also zero as long as conservation of energy and conservation of momentum are obeyed.

Mass–energy equivalence A physical law that mass and energy are proportionate measures of the same underlying property of an object

In physics, mass–energy equivalence states that anything having mass has an equivalent amount of energy and vice versa, with these fundamental quantities directly relating to one another by Albert Einstein's famous formula:

Mass in special relativity incorporates the general understandings from the laws of motion of special relativity along with its concept of mass–energy equivalence. The word mass is given two meanings in special relativity: one is an invariant quantity which is the same for all observers in all reference frames; the other is dependent on the velocity of the observer. The term relativistic mass tends not to be used in particle and nuclear physics and is often avoided by writers on special relativity. They do, however, talk about the (total) energy of a body, which is the equivalent to its relativistic mass, rather than the rest energy equivalent to its rest mass. The measurable inertia and gravitational attraction of a body in a given frame of reference is determined by its relativistic mass, not merely its rest mass. For example, light has zero rest mass but contributes to the inertia of any system containing it.

In particle physics, a massless particle is an elementary particle whose invariant mass is zero. The two known massless particles are both gauge bosons: the photon and the gluon. However, gluons are never observed as free particles, since they are confined within hadrons. Neutrinos were originally thought to be massless. However, because neutrinos change flavor as they travel, at least two of the types of neutrinos must have mass. The discovery of this phenomenon, known as neutrino oscillation, led to Canadian scientist Arthur B. McDonald and Japanese scientist Takaaki Kajita sharing the 2015 Nobel prize in physics.

High energy nuclear physics intersection of nuclear physics and high-energy physics

High-energy nuclear physics studies the behavior of nuclear matter in energy regimes typical of high energy physics. The primary focus of this field is the study of heavy-ion collisions, as compared to lower atomic mass atoms in other particle accelerators. At sufficient collision energies, these types of collisions are theorized to produce the quark–gluon plasma. In peripheral nuclear collisions at high energies one expects to obtain information on the electromagnetic production of leptons and mesons which are not accessible in electron-positron colliders due to their much smaller luminosities.

In physics, relativistic mechanics refers to mechanics compatible with special relativity (SR) and general relativity (GR). It provides a non-quantum mechanical description of a system of particles, or of a fluid, in cases where the velocities of moving objects are comparable to the speed of light c. As a result, classical mechanics is extended correctly to particles traveling at high velocities and energies, and provides a consistent inclusion of electromagnetism with the mechanics of particles. This was not possible in Galilean relativity, where it would be permitted for particles and light to travel at any speed, including faster than light. The foundations of relativistic mechanics are the postulates of special relativity and general relativity. The unification of SR with quantum mechanics is relativistic quantum mechanics, while attempts for that of GR is quantum gravity, an unsolved problem in physics.

In physics, the energy–momentum relation, or relativistic dispersion relation, is the relativistic equation relating any object's rest (intrinsic) mass, total energy, and momentum:

AdS/QCD correspondence

In theoretical physics, the anti-de Sitter/quantum chromodynamics correspondence is a program to describe quantum chromodynamics (QCD) in terms of a dual gravitational theory, following the principles of the AdS/CFT correspondence in a setup where the quantum field theory is not a conformal field theory.

Matter substance that has rest mass and volume, or several other definitions

In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, which are made up of interacting subatomic particles, and in everyday as well as scientific usage, "matter" generally includes atoms and anything made up of them, and any particles that act as if they have both rest mass and volume. However it does not include massless particles such as photons, or other energy phenomena or waves such as light or sound. Matter exists in various states. These include classical everyday phases such as solid, liquid, and gas – for example water exists as ice, liquid water, and gaseous steam – but other states are possible, including plasma, Bose–Einstein condensates, fermionic condensates, and quark–gluon plasma.

Quantum chromodynamics binding energy, gluon binding energy or chromodynamic binding energy is the energy binding quarks together into hadrons. It is the energy of the field of the strong force, which is mediated by gluons. QCD binding energy contributes most of the hadron's mass.

Gluon field strength tensor

In theoretical particle physics, the gluon field strength tensor is a second order tensor field characterizing the gluon interaction between quarks.


  1. 1 2 3 Cargile, J. (1995). qualities. in Honderich, T. (Ed.) (2005). The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (2nd ed.). Oxford
  2. Edghill, E.M. trans. (2009). "The Internet Classics Archive – Aristotle Categories". MIT. line 70.
  3. Edghill, E.M. trans. (2009). "The Internet Classics Archive – Aristotle Categories". MIT. line 254.
  4. Edghill, E.M. trans. (2009). "The Internet Classics Archive – Aristotle Categories". MIT. line 28.
  5. Taylor, Edwin F. and Wheeler, John Archibald, Spacetime Physics, 2nd edition, 1991, p. 195.
  6. Studtmann,P. (2007). Zalta, E.N., ed. "Aristotle's Categories". Stanford: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. [Regarding] Habits and Dispositions; Natural Capabilities and Incapabilities; Affective Qualities and Affections; and Shapes; [...] Ackrill finds Aristotle's division of quality at best unmotivated.
  7. Taylor, Edwin F. and Wheeler, John Archibald, Spacetime Physics, 2nd edition, 1991, pp. 226-227 and 232-233.
  8. Reese, William L. (1996). Dictionary of Philosophy and Religion. Prometheus Books. ISBN   978-1-57392-621-8.