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Author Topic: What colour is that really?  (Read 6209 times)

Offline Daerana

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What colour is that really?
« on: 18/06/2009 11:32:09 »
Now, I've been thinking about this for a while now...

What colour is this? (And no this isn't what I've been thinking about.  I'm not completely insane... yet)



You'd say it is blue (I hope).

What I have been thinking about is this... how do we know that that is really blue?  What I'm saying is, I may see that colour (not color, that is incorrect! :)) as what I believe is blue, but what if the colour you see is the colour I see as lets say green?
This then made me think as to how we each individually know what colour that is.  We didn't know from birth what a colour's name is, we were taught... memes, not genes.
You may have been taught when you were little that this colour here (whilst it is pointed to) is called blue.  But what if you see a different colour to the person who taught you that but call it the same name?

I'm not sure if you understand what I'm trying to say here, it is hard to explain.  I tried my best to.

If anyone has proof to prove me wrong please do so, this is just something I found interesting.

So, what do you think?
« Last Edit: 18/06/2009 11:34:54 by Shadow »


 

Offline Chemistry4me

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Offline Chemistry4me

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #2 on: 18/06/2009 11:41:52 »
Notice this

Yes, but I'm making more of a philosophical point which is that the "experience" that my brain calls "green" - i.e. the way it responds to the presence of light in the green part of the spectrum - may be totally different to what another person calls 'green'. So what I call green might in fact be yellow in another person's head. But because we are brought up knowing this colour is green, that is what we call it. The experience that your brain generates for you when you look at something called 'green' may however, be totally different to that which my brain produces for me. But there is no way we can ever know !

Individuals with synaesthesia can appreciate what I am talking about (although I (sadly) don't have it myself). In this 'condition' there is presumably some mis-wiring in the brain that enables people with synaesthesia to, for example, taste shapes, hear colours or feel words, as well as experiencing them the 'normal' way that you or I do.

Chris

"I never forget a face, but in your case I'll make an exception"
 - Groucho Marx

 

Offline Daerana

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #3 on: 18/06/2009 11:45:17 »
So, short answer is maybe?
 

lyner

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #4 on: 18/06/2009 11:59:08 »
But a child who has never been taught the 'names' of the colours would still distinguish between a blue door with food behind it and a red one which hasn't and learn the difference. Same goes for a lot of other animals.
The difference is that, without language (you idea of memes at work), we can't easily communicate to someone else which door to open.
Quote
You may have been taught when you were little that this colour here (whilst it is pointed to) is called blue.  But what if you see a different colour to the person who taught you that but call it the same name?
The fine details of colour appreciation are different from person to person, in any case. For someone with mild colour blindness, it is still possible to come to an agreement with someone with 'unimpaired' colour vision* about what to call certain colours.
What you say about colours can also be applied to Number. We give the number "5" the name "five" and we all now what me mean - unless we happen to be French - or ancient Babylonian.
My opinion is that the majority of what goes on in our conscious minds is communication based. The meme is what governs our conscious appreciation of the majority of the world. We think in the language we use for communication, by and large, and we make decisions (another can of worms) and figure things out using our common symbols with which we communicate - be it talking, writing or touching.
I think that language, in its broadest sense, is what makes the 'higher' organisms higher. A Tarzan of the Apes could be a very smart ape but he'd never have higher thoughts because he'd have no way to articulate and manipulate complex concepts. This is why education (broadest sense) is so essential for children.

*by that I mean someone who is close to the Norm and who would generally agree with someone else about what colour to assign to an object.
 

Offline Daerana

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #5 on: 18/06/2009 12:02:05 »
But a child who has never been taught the 'names' of the colours would still distinguish between a blue door with food behind it and a red one which hasn't and learn the difference.

yes, but would that door be blue and that one be red or would that door and that door just be different?
 

Offline jerrygg38

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #6 on: 18/06/2009 14:38:25 »
But a child who has never been taught the 'names' of the colours would still distinguish between a blue door with food behind it and a red one which hasn't and learn the difference.

yes, but would that door be blue and that one be red or would that door and that door just be different?

  To make matters worse. People have different degrees of color blindness. Some colors are between green and blue. I will call some blue and another person green. At some point we decide which to select. Some people cannot readily select an answer or they just see shades of grey.
 

lyner

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #7 on: 18/06/2009 17:19:39 »
But a child who has never been taught the 'names' of the colours would still distinguish between a blue door with food behind it and a red one which hasn't and learn the difference.

yes, but would that door be blue and that one be red or would that door and that door just be different?
The child certainly wouldn't have voluntarily named it 'blue' but would have some symbolic memory of the difference in colours (we all use private systems for distinguishing things - don't we?) he may even call it "food colour" if he hasn't already used up that symbol for something else .

Other blue objects would have associations with the food experiment, no doubt.
 

Offline Daerana

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #8 on: 22/06/2009 11:19:55 »
I'm not talking about what we call it.  I am talking about how we actually see it.  Is there any way in knowing for sure that what we see is the same to everyone else, no matter what we call it?  What I see and call green may be the colour you see and call pink.
???
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #9 on: 22/06/2009 11:22:28 »
Don't think so.
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #10 on: 22/06/2009 11:24:11 »
See, this man clearly has a red face

 

Offline Daerana

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #11 on: 22/06/2009 11:28:50 »
Don't think so.

why?

Sorry if I'm annoying you all but I've always been a very curious person.
 

Offline Daerana

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #12 on: 22/06/2009 11:29:33 »
See, this man clearly has a red face



Ofcourse... If you say so.  ;D
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #13 on: 22/06/2009 11:31:34 »
Don't think so.

why?

Sorry if I'm annoying you all but I've always been a very curious person.
You'd think that someone would notice the difference by now.
 

Offline Daerana

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #14 on: 22/06/2009 11:32:56 »
Don't think so.

why?

Sorry if I'm annoying you all but I've always been a very curious person.
You'd think that someone would notice the difference by now.

???
 

Offline Chemistry4me

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #15 on: 22/06/2009 11:36:59 »
Beats me, I can't even explain myself properly ! ::)
 

lyner

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #16 on: 22/06/2009 11:48:44 »
I'm not talking about what we call it.  I am talking about how we actually see it.  Is there any way in knowing for sure that what we see is the same to everyone else, no matter what we call it?  What I see and call green may be the colour you see and call pink.
???
During our lives we see objects of all different colours. Let's assume that they all stay the same colour.
When you see a red mug and you see a red plate, even if you don't call it red (you happen to be French, perhaps) you will call the colour of the mug the same as the colour of the plate. Even if you don't bother to verbalise it at all, the thing that they have in common will be the redness. The colouredness of the mug sits in your memory and, when you see a third object - a car, for instance, - you will recognise all three objects as having something about their appearance in common.
Another person with unimpaired vision will come to the same conclusion. They may call it rouge, rot or even blue but they will agree with you that all those objects are the same colour.
To take a conversation with this person any further you will need to translate the words you each use so that, next time, you can tell this person that you have just seen a RED aeroplane and he will know what you meant.
What I am really saying is that colour and our memory of it is the same, in essence, as all other sensations which relate to our world, we compare what we see about a new object with all the objects we have seen in the past. We classify it in terms of past objects we have seen. We do this 'privately', in our heads or 'publicly', when we share and use a common language with other people.
Assuming that we both have fully functioning colour vision, we will both 'see' a red plate as being the same colour as a red mug. What we choose to call it is up to us, but, to communicate about it, without confusion, we need to get into step. That's what language is for.
 

Offline Pwee

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #17 on: 15/07/2009 08:41:43 »
I see what you mean Shadow. Is a red car's colour in my head the same as in another person's head? Is it the same red for all of us?
And I think that there is no way that we can tell.

I'd say it's not the same. Why would it be the same? Our brain gets sensory input, and tries to cope with it, decode it, but nothing tells it how to cope with it.
Ultimately it doesn't really matter, because you can never experience another person's mental phenomena to the fullest. You might as well just think that it is the same red for all of us.
This is really a philosophical (and somewhat psychological) question, and there is some great literature in the field. For example I suggest your read Thomas Nagel's 'What is it like to be a bat?'. Here's the link:
http://www.clarku.edu/students/philosophyclub/docs/nagel.pdf
 

lyner

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #18 on: 16/07/2009 11:25:16 »
Pwee
Quote
I see what you mean Shadow. Is a red car's colour in my head the same as in another person's head? Is it the same red for all of us?

Of course, NO memory or sensation of any kind is identical for any two people, is it? We can only discuss or express our internal experiences of anything by using agreed words, symbols or gestures.
Why choose colour as the experience which has to be 'special', in this regard? You could just as well talk about taste, smell, music or a TV play. They are all experienced differently by every individual. We could both agree that we had just drunk a pint of  Old Speckled Hen but we would each experience the SpeckledHen-ness in a different way. We would have different associations with the drink and that would affect our perception and that would determine how it was stored in our brains.
« Last Edit: 16/07/2009 11:30:36 by sophiecentaur »
 

Offline Simon Waters

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #19 on: 03/08/2009 00:37:26 »
I think the term we need to shorten the conversation is "qualia".

This is the subjective experience.

We can establish that two people eye nerve react in a similar way to red.

We can establish that similar parts of their brains light up in response to seeing red things.

However it isn't clear if we can establish their subjective experience of red is the same. Given people often have different "favourite" colours, at some level we can assume that our subjective experiences of colour must vary slightly. If only based on say the colour of our favourite toys as children colouring <sic> our preference.

Of course I might have a different understanding of the term qualia to you.
 

lyner

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What colour is that really?
« Reply #20 on: 03/08/2009 06:49:12 »
All of that I agree with. Our individual experiences are all different and essentially personal and are affected by the sum of all our experiences.
What strikes me is the way that Colour is, somehow, reckoned to be different from other sensations. People don't seem to make the same comment about Sound but exactly the same, personal slant must be applied to each sound we hear.
Edit spelling
« Last Edit: 03/08/2009 13:01:49 by sophiecentaur »
 

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What colour is that really?
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