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Author Topic: Why can't we describe colours?  (Read 5414 times)

Offline latebind

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Why can't we describe colours?
« on: 24/02/2010 15:17:10 »
I think it is almost impossible to describe a colour, for example :How would you descibe the colour BLUE to someone who could only see black and white?

So my question is :Is this a problem with language or is it a problem with our brains? Why can't we describe colours ?


 

Offline neilep

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Why can't we describe colours?
« Reply #1 on: 24/02/2010 15:30:21 »
I agree. How can one describe a colour if the person ewe are describing it to is physically incapable of perceiving it ? They may be able to intellectualise the concept behind the nature of colours, hues and tones but they will never be able to truly understand/experience it.

I imagine the same problem arises when describing a sound to a completely deaf person. Deaf from birth that is. They may understand the nature of air vibrations but how could they know what a sound ...sounds like ?

This is all in my opinion of course.
 

Offline neilep

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Why can't we describe colours?
« Reply #2 on: 24/02/2010 15:32:37 »
..ps:..we can't describe colours because of their very nature it's prerequisite to visualise them...in my opinion.
 

Offline dantheman

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Why can't we describe colours?
« Reply #3 on: 25/02/2010 12:51:59 »
This describes the problem of other dimensions that may be all around us but we cannot detect. An alien life form may use that sense as the norm and would not understand our ignorance.
 

Offline Bored chemist

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Why can't we describe colours?
« Reply #4 on: 26/02/2010 07:16:26 »
We can describe colours. Blue is often described as cold, green as restful etc.
 

Offline latebind

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Why can't we describe colours?
« Reply #5 on: 26/02/2010 11:39:43 »
One thing I have noted, is that as neilep pointed out, it seems that some other senses also fall into this category.

For example : how would you explain the smell of garlic to someone who has never smelt it?
               how would you explain the sound of a drum to someone who has never heard it?

« Last Edit: 26/02/2010 13:04:37 by latebind »
 

Offline neilep

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Why can't we describe colours?
« Reply #6 on: 26/02/2010 17:13:09 »
We can describe colours. Blue is often described as cold, green as restful etc.

...but this is assuming that one has already experienced those colours and has been conditioned to associate those colours to those sensations...a blind person just would not be able to associate a sensation to a visual cue.
 

Offline neilep

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Why can't we describe colours?
« Reply #7 on: 26/02/2010 17:15:35 »
...though..I am sure there may be a way to induce a colour in the brain without the need for eye-sight.
 

Offline JnA

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Why can't we describe colours?
« Reply #8 on: 26/02/2010 22:51:27 »
In the movie Mask the title character uses sensation to describe colours. I thought it adequate since colour often evokes 'emotion'. So for red he handed the blind person a hot rock, cold one for blue etc etc..

People that have limited or reduced faculties often substitute or use another sense to gain an understanding. So I actually do think that using sensation or emotion to describe colour is valid.
 

Offline neilep

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Why can't we describe colours?
« Reply #9 on: 27/02/2010 12:37:44 »
Whilst I acknowledge that one can describe colours using sensation..I agree that it is adequate for the frame of reference achievable.
 

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Why can't we describe colours?
« Reply #9 on: 27/02/2010 12:37:44 »

 

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