Definition of primary qualities in English:

primary qualities

plural noun

  • 1Philosophy
    Properties or qualities, such as size, motion, shape, number, etc., belonging to physical matter independently of an observer.

    • ‘Galileo, Descartes, and Newton had accepted the distinction between primary and secondary qualities, and had suggested that extension, position, and motion were primary qualities.’
    • ‘On the other hand an apple is a primary object, or object of mathematics, when we consider only its primary qualities of shape and singularity (quantity).’
    • ‘Moreover, primary qualities are never perceived except in conjunction with secondary qualities.’
    • ‘The contention is that just as Malebranche produced arguments to show that secondary qualities exist only in the mind, so his critic Foucher extended those same arguments to show that primary qualities also exist only in the mind.’
    • ‘The scientist, he writes, is concerned with what are [the] primary qualities originally and unalterably impressed on matter, and… the spirit of the laws of nature.’
    1. 1.1The four original qualities of matter (hot, cold, wet, and dry) recognized by Aristotle, from which other qualities were held to derive.
      • ‘A central component of the humoral theory of the body, temperament (‘crasis’ in Greek) denoted the particular balance of the four primary qualities - hot, wet, cold, and dry - characteristic of a given individual in a healthy condition.’
      • ‘At about the same time, four primary qualities were defined - hot and cold, wet and dry - which also made up a tetrad of opposites, as did the four blood types of Aristotle and the four humours of Hippocrates.’
      • ‘Given the fundamental or "primary" qualities, which come in two pairs of opposites, viz., hot/cold and moist/dry, there are four elements out of which all minerals are composed, each having its own set proportion of elements; and from the minerals all other corporeal entities in general are formed.’