The claim that without mortal creatures, tastes, heat, and colors would no longer exist as they solely depend on creatures to perceive them is controversial. According to indirect realism, our perception of the world is mediated by the senses, which provide us with a representation of the world based on objects’ physical properties (Stich, 2019, p.105). The idea that these properties are not intrinsic to objects but are a product of human perception is true to say that secondary properties are entirely dependent on the subjective experience of living creatures. Therefore, I agree with the claim that without mortal creatures, tastes, odors, and colors would not exist.
John Locke was an influential philosopher famous for his indirect realism theory. According to indirect realism, we do not directly perceive the external world. Instead, we perceive mental representations or ideas of the external world. He says, “If you hold a cube in a way that one of its faces is pointed directly toward you, your mental image of the cube will be square. Conversely, if you hold the same cube in a way that one of its corners is pointed directly towards you, your mental image will be hexagonal” (Stich, 2019, p.100). External objects cause these mental representations, but they are not identical.
John Locke would disagree with the claim that tastes, heat, and colors would cease to exist if all mortal creatures were removed from the universe. Locke’s distinction between primary and secondary qualities is crucial in this scenario. Primary qualities, which are objective and exist independently of our perceptions, would still exist even if all creatures were removed from the universe. This includes size, shape, solidity, and motion (Stich, 2019, p.105). However, secondary qualities are subjective and exist only in the perceiver’s mind. They depend on the existence of senses that can perceive them, but they do not solely rely on mortal creatures’ presence. Locke believed that secondary qualities depend on the existence of God, who created the world with the potential to produce sensations of color, taste, and heat in the minds of perceivers.
George Berkeley was a philosopher who was known for his idealist philosophy. According to Berkeley, the material world is nothing more than a collection of ideas that exist solely in the perceiver’s mind. Berkeley would disagree with the claim that without mortal creatures, secondary properties such as tastes, heat, and colors would no longer exist. As an idealist, Berkeley believed that all existence is mind-dependent and that material objects do not exist independently of perception. In his view, objects only exist as they are perceived or thought of by minds. He claimed that if an individual closed their eyes and rubbed them gently, after a few seconds, they would be able to see swirling colored patterns. He then explains that colored patterns are just mental images or ideas that do not represent external objects (Stich, 2019, p.105). Therefore, without any perceivers, there would be no objects or properties to perceive, but there would still be a mind, namely the mind of God, which would perceive and maintain the existence of all things (Stich, 2019, p.111). In this sense, Berkeley’s idealism implies that secondary properties, along with all other objects, are ultimately dependent on the perception of a mind, but not necessarily mortal creatures.
I agree with the claim that if all mortal creatures were removed from the universe, secondary properties such as tastes, heat, and colors would no longer exist. This position is supported by George Berkeley’s idealism, which argues that objects depend on human minds for their existence. Without perception, there is no way to experience these features. Furthermore, John Locke’s theory of primary and secondary qualities distinguishes between inherent qualities in objects and those that result from perception. Secondary qualities such as colors are perceived and do not exist in the object independently (Stich, 2019, p.105). Therefore, the absence of creatures to perceive secondary qualities means they would not exist.
Stich, S. P., & Donaldson, T. (2019). Philosophy: Asking questions–seeking answers. Oxford University Press.