Philosophical Pictures and Secondary Qualities

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The paper presents a novel account of nature and genesis of some philosophical problems, which vindicates a new approach to an arguably central and extensive class of such problems: The paper develops the Wittgensteinian notion of 'philosophical pictures' with the help of some notions adapted from metaphor research in cognitive linguistics and from work on unintentional analogical reasoning in cognitive psychology. The paper shows that adherence to such pictures systematically leads to the formulation of unwarranted claims, ill-motivated problems, and pointless theories. To do so, the paper proceeds from a case-study on a lastingly influential development in early modern philosophy: the adoption of the doctrine of secondary qualities, and its principal consequences. The findings motivate a new approach to an arguably extensive and important class of philosophical problems: to the problems we raise in the grip of philosophical pictures.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-110
Number of pages34
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2009


  • Analogical reasoning
  • Boyle
  • Conceptual metaphor
  • Galileo
  • Locke
  • Meta-philosophy
  • Philosophical paradox
  • Philosophical pictures
  • Secondary qualities
  • Unintentional reasoning
  • Wittgenstein

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