2. But we must enquire into Quality in itself: to know its nature is certainly the way to settle our general question.
The first point is to assure ourselves whether or not one and the same thing may be held to be sometimes a mere qualification and sometimes a constituent of Reality- not staying on the point that qualification could not be constitutive of a Reality but of a qualified Reality only.
Now in a Reality possessing a determined quality, the Reality and the fact of existence precede the qualified Reality.
What, then, in the case of fire is the Reality which precedes the qualified Reality?
Its mere body, perhaps? If so, body being the Reality, fire is a warmed body; and the total thing is not the Reality; and the fire has warmth as a man might have a snub nose.
Rejecting its warmth, its glow, its lightness- all which certainly do seem to be qualities- and its resistance, there is left only its extension by three dimensions: in other words, its Matter is its Reality.
But that cannot be held: surely the form is much more likely than the Matter to be the Reality.
But is not the Form of Quality?
No, the Form is not a Quality: it is a Reason-Principle.
And the outcome of this Reason-Principle entering into the underlying Matter, what is that?
Certainly not what is seen and burns, for that is the something in which these qualities inhere.
We might define the burning as an Act springing from the Reason-Principle: then the warming and lighting and other effects of fire will be its Acts and we still have found no foothold for its quality.
Such completions of a Reality cannot be called qualities since they are its Acts emanating from the Reason-Principles and from the essential powers. A quality is something persistently outside Reality; it cannot appear as Reality in one place after having figured in another as quality; its function is to bring in the something more after the Reality is established, such additions as virtue, vice, ugliness, beauty, health, a certain shape. On this last, however, it may be remarked that triangularity and quadrangularity are not in themselves qualities, but there is quality when a thing is triangular by having been brought to that shape; the quality is not the triangularity but the patterning to it. The case is the same with the arts and avocations.
Thus: Quality is a condition superadded to a Reality whose existence does not depend upon it, whether this something more be a later acquirement or an accompaniment from the first; it is something in whose absence the Reality would still be complete. It will sometimes come and go, sometimes be inextricably attached, so that there are two forms of Quality, the moveable and the fixed.