The Metaphysics of Color
Sunday, May 4, 2014 -- 5:00 PM
Ken Taylor

This week we're seeing red -- asking about the metaphysics of color.  Is color in the eye of the beholder?  Or is color objectively real?  Would colors still exist in the world, even if no one was around to see them? 

Tthink of all the different animals and the differences in how they see color.  Some don’t see color at all,  some see a few colors, others see lots.  Some monkeys, for example, see red quite poorly.  Birds and bees see colors way up into the ultra-violet range.  Other animals see colors way down into the infrared range.  Humans are blind to both.  So it could seem like color is clearly in the eye of the beholder. 

But couldn't this just as easily show that different animals are simply capable of seeing different colors?  It doesn’t have to imply that color is merely in the eye of the beholder. Ask yourself which of those animals sees the world’s true colors.  You could answer, they all do!  With the world is awash in color, it's no surprise that different animals evolved to see different parts of the total color spectrum.

Then again there may be more to it than that.  Different observers can see different colors, given the very same light as input -- not because of any differences in what’s out there in the world, but because of differences in their visual systems.  In other words, because perceived color is relative, actual color can't be objectively real.  We could even reject the very distinction between perceived color and actual color. 

Of course, maybe we're just thinking of color like pain.  Perceived pain is just... pain.  When a needle pricks my skin and hurts me, the pain is obviously totally subjective.  It would make no sense to ask, “Would the pain still be in the needle, if no was around to be pricked by it?" Except that for some strange reason with color we have the persistent illusion that it’s objectively out there, splattered all over the surfaces of things. 

And yet unlike pain, color certainly appears to be splattered all over.  Why can't we take that appearance at face value?  Let's try a little thought experiment.  Have two people run some water over their hands and then stick their hands into a pot of water at a fixed temperature – say, 70 degrees.  Let’s have the first person run cold water – at 35 degrees say – over her hand.   Let’s have the second person run hot water – at say 100 degrees – over his.  What do you think they're going to experience? 

It seems pretty obvious that one is going to experience the water as hot, the other as really cool -- even though the water has a fixed temperature.  That’s because the perceived coolness or hotness of the water is totally in the hand of the observer.  We may project the coolness or hotness onto the water itself, but it’s not really there. Same thing with color: it's is in the eye of the beholder too.  But just like with coldness or hotness, we mistakenly project it out into the world. 

Of course, this argument turns on a distinction between the subjective perception of coolness or hotness and its objective correlate -- temperature.  We wind up saying that we need to distinguish perceived color – which can vary depending on the state of the observer – from objective color – which is fixed, independent of the observer.

Still, color seems different from temperature.  All there is to being red is looking red.  It makes no sense whatsoever to say, for example, that a red surface illuminated by a yellow light that then looks black is still actually red. That just shows how we arbitrarily stipulate that the color something really is, is the color it looks like under white light.  It’s just a convention, a trick of language. 

So does that leaves us only with a choice between radical color skepticism or naïve color realism?  I suspect our guest, Jonathan Cohen, may have some colorful thoughts on the issue.

Comments (19)


mirugai's picture

mirugai

Sunday, May 4, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

COLOR AND PHILOSOPHY  

COLOR AND PHILOSOPHY  
The discussion today was an excellent example of ?doing philosophy,? in my view. Classic philosophical debate is the only way to investigate the ?objective/subjective? nature of color perception. There is no real way that science can help with this; rational debate, with tolerance and consideration of contrary positions, is the only way to explore such an issue.  As one who has provoked skepticism (about my intelligence) by my assertion that neuroscience and philosophy are incompatible, I think this color show gives me some support: as carefully and certainly as one can describe the physiological activities of color perception, that data is of no use whatsoever in the ?objective/subjective? perception discussion.  Science can only describe the material (in variously exciting dramatic presentations); philosophy is the only way to explore the consciousness aspects of color perception, which is really what we want to know about.
In a similar way, I have to object to John?s assertion that ?Different animals have evolved to see colors differently.? He uses the word ?evolved? to magically transform stuff he does not and cannot ?know? into unassailable truths. Like the current use of the word ?genetics.?
For a truly dramatic experience of the way context influences and changes color (and all visual) perception, go see anything by the artist James Turrell.  
And, one more thing: the study of color brings up another wonderful philosophical inquiry: what is reality. As in, if color is just the bombardment of waves or particles on the optic receiver, is there "really" color on the red (say) object being viewed, or is it "really" without color, and the color only "exists" at the optic nerve? Or in the mind (note, I don't say "brain")? Reality and existence: yum yum.
mirugai

MJA's picture

MJA

Monday, May 5, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

"Man is the measure of all

"Man is the measure of all things" an old Greek once said, even the color red. Beyond these manmade measures of uncertainty that only lead to greater uncertainty is a nature of immeasurable truth, the absolute, a light so clear and bright it need no measure at all.
If you haven't seen the light yet, try to measure a river, the answer will set you free!
Free at last, 
=

mirugai's picture

mirugai

Monday, May 5, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

I am a dualist, as you know,

I am a dualist, as you know, MJA (matter and consciousness). And all of your teachings point not even to "oneness" but to "entirety" or "whole" or something else even more completely enclosing for which I don't even think a word exists.  So you may not be entirely pleased, but I find so much truth in all that you say in this forum, I am completely compelled to find support for what I believe, in your statements here.  I could just requote your submission in its entirety, but three wonderful ideas I would like to put on my banner:
"Beyond ... manmade measures of uncertainty"
" ... a nature of immeasurable truth ..."
And, as always "="
 
 
 

MJA's picture

MJA

Monday, May 5, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

I wave that banner too.

I wave that banner too.
Thank you,
=

Gary M Washburn's picture

Gary M Washburn

Thursday, May 8, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

Is truth a bully? Does truth

Is truth a bully? Does truth or reality make us see? Protagoras, the 'old Greek', at least according to Plato in the dialogue named after him, valorizes subjectivity. Plato, contra most interpreters, actually thought he had a point, though he also thought 'the old Greek' had something in it ass backwards. The point is that truth is emancipating, not obligating, as has been thought throughout the "Enlightenment" era, in which we are very much players even today. The question is, how is subjectivity the emancipation truth is of what we know and experience of the world? Cognitivism is a cheat. It is a cheat via which humanists situate humanity within a nominally more rigorous context, so that we can speak of human perspectives as if they were in some sense objectively real. It is a cheat, too, in that it situates experience in a context nominally, but not in any real sense, objective. It is a cheat, that is, if you come at it as a progressive asserting human values or as an inhumanist pretending to reveal objective truth.
There is no damn 'grue'. Between blue and green there is a myriad of shades of aqua, each one so rigorously defined and even named by color experts and fashion designers, that there should be nothing fundamentally troubling about the subjectivity of our experience of them. The most offensive aspect of the discussion (and it is offensive) is the pretense to science that we so persistently feel requires relegating experience to passive reception of 'what is out there'. There is no 'out there' or 'inside' between the material world and human consciousness. One thing needs to be clarified in all arenas of philosophy: there is nothing, absolutely nothing (in the most rigorous sense), that it is 'like' to be conscious. Consciousness is simply nonpareil. For reasons that would take more space then this site probably has, let alone would tolerate on the question of color vision, each one of us is a way being what and who time is that is so real and articulated the universe of time that time is not even begun, let alone ended, until it is completed that articulation. Each person is indispensably real and nothing is real until all that meaning is as real as everything else that would be. The point is, we die, and in dying differ time so completely that it is simply no place for anything at all until the meaning of that departure is its reality. Relating this to the subject at hand, there is an act of changing every term of being meaning and experience happening through and throughout us on an ongoing basis and so pervasively and suddenly that there simply is no term for it but the moment of its sudden differing. We throw away our foundations nanosecond by nanosecond in a way science can only make a mockery or travesty of. We get out of our own way and out of each other's way and so create a whole language of experience and of ways of being that are most critically real and articulated by our being departed them. By getting out of the way, things come into view that would not otherwise be visible. By getting out of the way, we let each other be real there. But our greatest debt is to that absence. Cognitivism ain't got a clue.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Thursday, May 8, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

Hi Gary,

Hi Gary,
Isn't a dream a consciousness 'like' state?  Isn't very early childhood also consciousness ?like??  Aren't some animals tethered to very different sensory organs conscious ?like??  Richard Dawkins' theory of memetics - which you profess not to know the meaning of - is also 'like' consciousness.  Nonpareil?  All roads lead to Rome... except those that don't.
What does this sentence mean?
"For reasons that would take more space then (sic) this site probably has, let alone would tolerate on the question of color vision, each one of us is a way being what and who time is that is so real and articulated the universe of time that time is not even begun, let alone ended, until it is completed that articulation."
That is one heck of sentence for a blogger who considers cognitivism a cheat.  We may not be able to apply science to color, but good lord man, it helps to have grammar to parse a thought.  'Too much coffee man - TMCM' is at work here me thinks.  There's plenty of room on this blog to clarify this at least.
MJA above and the guest philosopher Jon are right to see subjectivity in the perception of color.  MJA, I think, more than any other poster on this blog would agree "that truth is emancipating".   But what does this sentence mean? 
"The question is, how is subjectivity the emancipation truth is of what we know and experience of the world?"
 ... TMCM strikes again.
Protagoras was not talking about color in his namesake dialogue or even the natural world for that matter.  Where does Plato valorize subjectivity - BTW?  He's using Protagoras as a foil here only IMO. It can be tricky finding Plato in the words of his dialogues - but subjectivity is not an idea that I associate with Platonism.
All this said - I get the gist of what you are saying.  On shamanic journeys I've taken in my life - a surprising lot of your post resonates with my Kerouacian sensibility.
Note Grue does exist on this site.  He aspires to being bleen.  I'm looking forward to his rejoinder.

dabrowsa@indiana.edu's picture

dabrowsa@indiana.edu

Friday, May 9, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

I guess I'm in a bad mood, I

I guess I'm in a bad mood, I have little good to say about this show.
I'm continually disappointed that Ken & John fail to distinguish between metaphysical, sociological, psychological, ethical, linguistic, etc., issues.  It's all "philosophy talk" to them.  Maybe they think that's necessary for the show to find a wide audience, but it leads to muddled presentations. 
This show is nominally on the metaphysics of color, so you'd think they'd begin with an attempt to clarify what "color" is supposed to be.  The noun has many different, uh, shades of meaning, but rather than try to separate them and narrow the conversation, they plunge in pell-mell and spend much of the time arguing over what they're "willing to say". That's lexicography, and it seems to be what philosophers fall back on when they're in too much of hurry to mount arguments. 
Maybe the problem with this topic is that the most interesting aspects of color are psychological, so K&J must cheat to smuggle it into a show on philosophy.  Those questions outside of cognitive psychology can be handled pretty easily with the ecumenical approach: clearly "redness" is a kind of psychological state whose inner logic is valid whether or not humans, or any particular red-idiopath, actually exists, whereas the experience of redness is probably unique to a species (or even individual); and the physical correlate of color, wavelength of electromagnetic radiation, is about as objective as things get.
You wouldn't know it from this post but in daily life I'm actually a very easy-going guy...

Gary M Washburn's picture

Gary M Washburn

Saturday, May 10, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

Mr. Smith,

Mr. Smith,
I appreciate that a provocative offering is a dangerous opening strategy, but it also best expresses a disinclination to conventional terms. To someone such as myself, having spent my life thinking very much ?outside the box?, your post feels like an invitation into it. I can only hope you make as much of an effort to reach out of it as I am in reaching into it in an effort to get my thoughts across.
Does George plus George equal two Georges? That is, do we know what we mean when we state that 1+1=2? The grip logic has on number is incommensurably different from the mathematician?s. It is more to do with which one is which than how many. But founding our determinations of identity on what something is ?like? has pernicious effects that can only be obviated by pretending they are not there. Consciousness is not a state of being, it is a dynamic of retrenched supposition or imaging continually altering throughout in the face of contrary evidence and reasoning. It is the deed of person unique in the universe of time. But it is peculiarly akin to time itself in that sense that time is just the differing it is, rather than the ?states of affairs? ?philosophers? try to drive it into, like the square peg into the round hole. But what constitutes being ?like? is, in reality, much more to do with contrariety than ?non-contradiction?. We are more alike differing than in being ?like?. The supposed ?likeness? is dehumanizing and unreal, and most certainly unphilosophical.
?Platonism? is the product of eschewing Plato himself in favor of Aristotle (one of the great criminals of philosophy). His actual work is more about people than ?ideas?. Is the author of the Symposium an idealist? Not if, as in Parmenides, the ?third man? is the solution, not the problem (as Aristotle states it). It?s the drama of the differing through which what is contrary to being ?like? actually brings community. A community of unique, nonpareil, beings. The role of reason is not to bring us into other realms supposed to govern this one, but to find that the extremity of rigor is not the completion of the epochal unity of a term of time (or of a linguistic term) but the lost ability to know which one is which save as a determinate indeterminacy which one. That is, in the sense that genuine understanding emerges amongst us only where we know neither one of us is the agent of it. Only contrariety can explain the logic of that. Nothing ?like?. It?s logic, as, if not more rigorous than convention, but that can only be recognized outside the box.
Can a person be real in a sense reached throughout time? It is conceivable that if the first photon to emerge into being is effaced in an event of interference by the last photon of light to scour the universe, that all intervening time is therein erased from ever having been. Is it really so unthinkable that person is a character of the differing of time that has a reach throughout it? That humanity, if not the center of being, is nevertheless central to it? If so, likening it to anything not of that character is caricature and travesty. Take a walk outside the box with me and see what may be seen...

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Monday, May 12, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

Gary,

Gary,
By George, I think this is better.  I think you are drinking less coffee but still I beseech you to lay off the juice as I take in the odor.  Why not clarify the previous sentences before issuing more?  Please do that before proceeding.   But if you must? read on? but again ? I ask you? answer my questions before writing more of your own.  Parse your sentences above and state them in grammatical form ? or at least diagram them as they are.
Why are you not curious of the meaning of my words?... because, I?ll tell you,  I?m meeting you at yours.  I?m knocking on your box.  I assure you, I too can make words and grammar stretch to make meaning.  I?ll spare you that poetry ? which would drive a synesthete to turn number from color back to plain number just to shut me up.
 ?Like? is your term.  I used it because you said it ? quotes and all.  For all the differing ? aren?t you comparing consciousness to time above?  Like in your second paragraph when your say consciousness ?? is peculiarly akin to time itself???
George plus George may or may not equal two Georges ? depending on what George is.  Logic plays a huge role in the Maths and is the primary tool of the mathematician.  What is so incommensurable here?   In binary math 1 + 1 = 10 BTW ? I know that is dumb but it makes me smile.   If George is not the intersection of the set of what constitutes a George separated by a plank time from what had previously been the set of what constitutes a George then we are in some deep philosophical poo as my daughter would say.  Supposition cannot be retrenched so easily I think? what about you? A plank time is pretty short for a formative retrenchment.  Can we at least agree that George is a conscious being before adding him to himself? 
You state consciousness has no comparison (except of course for time which I call you out on again ? because ? you are not consistent there at least ? you should agree Gary).  How is this nonpareil identity statement so humanizing, so real, and so much more philosophical than comparing consciousness to something else?  Humans are not the center of the universe. 
I use the term ?like? because you say there is nothing ?like? consciousness.  I posit to you again: dreams (where does George go when he sleeps?), childhood (where did George come from?), animal experience (George Steele was a heck of a wrestler ? but I digress), Dawkinsian memetics (look it up ? it?s really cool)?there are more analogs but I think you would refuse them all if you don?t see the union of the sets of what constitutes George moment to moment to be for the most part George.  
Human consciousness is nowhere indispensable ? that too is nonsensical to me.  You only need to see the dirt ground in the creases in the nails of your neighborhood heroin addict to see that fact.  History also says this, but I don?t think you listen to history?s tales from your philosophical perch if I understand you so far.
Plato says many things over the course of his dialogues, his life and philosophy.  Primarily he objectifies stuff ? abstract stuff in general.  If we can?t agree on that? then we are going to have to take this dialogue by dialogue because he contradicts himself in my view too many times to jump from Protagoras to Parmenides to find fault in ? Aristotle?  Wait? wut?
Finally let me say this.  Where does brown come from Gary?  What is brown?  Ouch? it comes from differing.  Ack yech barf snort?.  I think there may be something to your madness.  Let?s find it in color.  It?s a great stepping stone to many cool quirks of metaphysic. 
I didn?t get to everything here?but neither did you ? sleep I must now ? pardon the grammar I?m channeling Yoda.

Gary M Washburn's picture

Gary M Washburn

Tuesday, May 13, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

~~Formalism? Well, we'll get

~~Formalism? Well, we'll get to that.
'In the beginning was the did.' So translates Babel Fish the famous line from Goethe, 'Im An-fang war die Tat.' But who done it? Is time dead? Is consciousness? Or is it a living, moving target? So why is your first move to kill it and pin it down into a dissecting tray? But if a moving target, whose move is it? I agree that mathematics uses logic constantly, but what I am saying is that this may be ill advised, because the goods logic supplies are damaged at inception. There is a sense, more than a sense, in which time is person. You may see 'like' in this if you like, but hopefully you will let this pass, in time. A complex organism is bound to die. It takes dogmatic positivism to see in this a purpose of survival (parse pur-pose). The meaning of the complexity of the complex organism is not random possibilities of making different kinds of organisms rule the world in some future age, but opportunities of greater complexity ever more articulated the bond to death. The organizing principle of life is not some evolutionary survival design, but a dialectical progression of cell differentiation through which the community of cells as a whole more completely articulate the worth of its being bound to die in the community in contrariety it is, in that each least part of it is in some sense, if you like, the most differentiated, and so the most articulating bond to death. I am not pretending to be a biologist, though I feel more comfortable with science than most philosophers seem to be. I use the image to illustrate the notion of a non-positivist community in which each part is all, not by arrogating its role, but by departing it. There is an opportunity, not to be confused with potential or the possible. It is neither possible nor potential, any more than is love, or consciousness. Between antecedence and consequence, between intention and obligation or necessity, it is anomalous. And yet it is an anomaly pregnant with riches that can only be expressed by the living responsibility of the whole to be recognized the worth to it of the departed, and to the bond of departure. The 'did' of it logic can't fathom.
This is why:
In all the rigorous definitions of 'is' in logic and mathematics there is a lethal absence. The absence is value. From the proposition (I'd appreciate your explanation of the meaning of this term, because it seems murky to me) there is an absence of the character, and the act, of belonging. It is that character in which the subject belongs of the predicate (or is it the other way 'round?) that creates the meaning of both terms. But it is not a dead thing in a tray, it is a dynamic through which each term finds its opportunity of being what it is and means through a responsibility, more like love than fact, of being recognized the worth of the departed.
Consciousness is not a set, it is a living dynamic never ceasing to stir itself, not even in deepest sleep. If you stop all activity with a drug the subject awakens with a sense of lost time.
The remark about drug addiction seems callously Calvinist to me. My fingernails are dirty most of the time, this does not diminish the quality of my being conscious of it. History is a subject we disagree on. 'Memes' (this is a joke, right?) are better left to fashion followers, not philosophers. Fads do not set the scene for life, they merely caricature it. Hegel was wrong if he suggests that history sets a necessary course, but he had a point if he meant that people find opportunity in each other anomalous to the apparently logical progression of events. Feyerabend wrote of an abundance conquered by the kind of criteria you seem to adhere to, but he doesn't actually tell us what that abundance is. I wonder why?
George is not a set, he is an opportunity time is of being articulate, and of worth.
There can be no analog to the deed of time. Or is time just languishing?
Where does brown come from? What could you possibly mean by this question? The whole matter of color vision is vexed. Vision is not a set of particular sensations, it is a sense set within a community of senses that differs and grows as a whole, just as consciousness does. This brings us back to dead things in trays. Positivism/formalism is missing the value of belonging dynamic to any effort to infer. If the meaning of terms only comes from driving the rigor of inference to an extremity in which the determinacy which one is which is lost to the dynamic of it, everything changes, not just the perception of this spot of color. The problem with cognitivism is that a controlled experiment excludes that final moment of rigor and so controls, most particularly, for the result. Similarly with logical form. In preserving our criteria and conditions the most meaningful result is changes that creep in unnoticed as moods feelings and emotions that modify the whole. And this even though we might throughout suppose ourselves single-mindedly focused on the expectations of a telling result. Purity of heart is to lose count of what we are and of which one is the deed and character of the terms of belonging. Consciousness is a kind of departure more telling of time than any set theory can comprehend. It is originary. The logician (positivist/formalist) can deny love all he wants, but he cannot be master of his terms without it, or its loss.
 
 

Dabrain88's picture

Dabrain88

Wednesday, May 14, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

I say that the color of red

I say that the color of red is relative. Red represents different things in different cultures. I would probably say red looks fairly similar to most people. For some people , red is their favorite color , so it looks good and some people don't like it , so its bad. Red might remind a person of a bad or good childhood memory.  Red is a satan or gothic color for some people , so the perspective of a color can vary based on culture , preference , memory or identity. Color is definitely in the eye of the beholder. Color would not be objectively real. For example, a blind or color blind person would not experience color.  I think color would still exist in a world with not one to see them , but except for a planet where life forms don't have eyes.

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Saturday, May 17, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

Gary,

Gary,
This makes me sad.  No babel fish could make sense of your thought here beyond fragments.  I'm your reader.  I tell you...I don't understand.  I quote a sentence and ask you rephrase or parse out your meaning.  You instead go on with more questions, statements and odd metaphor (yes metaphor - you are 'like' using metaphor in a very non valley girl sense) to bring me into the fold.  It's not going to work.  
Goethe is translating logos.  If that is where you are going with your take on consciousness - then peace be with you brother.  There is a world of critique and adulation at your doorstep.
William Jefferson Clinton played with the definition of 'is' to his discredit.  I will say that most all thinkers who do the same will fall to a similar fate.  The word 'is' has many definitions.  A first is - exists.  George is.  Consciousness is.  I get this (in fact I think it to be the two word summary of your thought here.)  A second is - identity.  George is George.  Consciousness is consciousness.  I get this too.  Another definition is 'like'.  For example...'Juliet is the sun'.  That you profess to dislike this, that makes me sad.  The consolation is I am a biological killer of thought.  I will pin this in my consolation tray as a metaphor with which to remember this thread.
Brown is discussed in the show @ ~22:30 - check it out.   This is germane to what I think you are trying to express here.
Color is not 'like' consciousness in most all respects.  I'm not sure where you are going with that except in your use of set theory that you disavow previously if not in the sentence just prior.  I quote...
Vision is not a set of particular sensations, it is a sense set within a community of senses that differs and grows as a whole, just as consciousness does. 
When you set a sense within a community of senses how are you not using set theory?  How does color differ and grow as a whole?  Now you are saying color is 'like' consciousness?  Hmm... I think we are slowly but surely losing the nonpareil quality of consciousness with every post.
How is it possible to conceive of dreams as anything but a cognitive experience.  I think there is some rigor here that is missing it's final moment.  Have you heard of a Wada test?  In this procedure certain parts of the brain are subjected to a very short acting barbiturate.  Similar to your scenario where an entire brain is deactivated parts of a brain are 'put to sleep'.  Guess what?  If that part interprets symbols the patient loses there ability to read.  If that part controls speech they can't talk.  Hmmm... it's almost like consciousness is a set of attributes at least in this case mapped to regions of the brain.  Consciousness can indeed be conceptualized as a set of attributes.
Some people choose to clean their nails.  Some people don't.  Some dispense their choice to neglect in lieu of addiction.  This is not a life well lived.  That is not Calvinism.  That is philosophy talking.  The normative type of talk that bears fruit to those who partake.  Note the second and the third type of people in this normative argument are not necessarily mutually exclusive.  Regardless of the rightness or wrongness here, when I see an addict in disarray on the street I'm not filled with joy at their articulation of time I'm struck by profound sympathy and regret.  What's more I look askance at those who don't share this sentiment.
Time is a truly vexing issue.  Not as much as your concept of articulation but vexing none the less.  If only Philosophy Talk would do a show on 'Time' as it plays a very key role in your world view then perhaps we could continue this conversation on that blog.  Until that time... I think I'm done here.

Gary M Washburn's picture

Gary M Washburn

Thursday, May 22, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

As Descartes so convincingly

As Descartes so convincingly demonstrated, the one thing a philosopher never doubts is, himself.
I have no right to expect not to be misconstrued, but neither have you. That doubt that we have conveyed our meaning is not an incompetence, it is a liberty invested as an opportunity of an understanding more perfect than what we can state unconscious of any opportunity of liberty in being misunderstood. It is a wonder that philosophers should be so bent upon eliminating that liberty that most promises understanding. But how to quantify that liberty where it is broken that eleminativism? How much of a breach in the edifice of logical positivism (a name that has never ceased to be apposite) makes such a difference that all bets are off? The operating principle of science is not knowledge, but ignorance and neglect. It is lethal to philosophy to emulate it. As Berkeley shows us in a little broadside against the calculus, The Analyst, that system of mathematics is vitiated by contradictory uses of the infinitesimal. Furthermore, cosmology supplies convincing evidence there is no real infinity, and quantum, or whatever it is called today, gives us at least equally strong evidence there is no real infinitesimal. But the whole system is a justification of neglect. The very thing that is meant to be understood is measured by conventional formsreduced to so small a variance as to be 'negligible'. But what is neglected? What gets neglected but the very thing we claim to seek to understand? It's like throwing away the baby and keeping the bathwater. Similarly, there is an insuperable void between fact and inference. Two facts cannot be said to be in the same sense until all time is understood comprehensively. Inference is only possible assured that 'is' always means the same thing throughout. But this is impossible. The most effective way to change a mind is to get it to convince itself it is unchanging, or that its inferences consist of an invariant meaning of 'is'. By the way, this is the theme of Plato's Laws. But neglecting the variance to 'is' loses the sense of the proposition. A setting is not a set. It seems deliberately obtuse to me to suppose so. There is no truth, whatever validity there may be in the purely formal sense, to set theory. This is because what is neglected in it is that the most telling term of any set is deliberately omitted. That omission is a crime against truth. Just how much difference does it take to get us to recognize the most telling term (the 'third man')? Where minds change language explodes with meaning. Where meaning never changes there is no mind. The setting of mind is not a brain in a vat. It is a person continually confronted with reason to doubt holistically. It feels like dying, 'like' in that there is no enduring it is. But any enduring term is lessened the holistic character of life and experience. We are bound to die but convicted in enduring. Our languages reflect this as a persistent dogma, though the project of philosophy is to break its grip on us (or would be if it were not in the hands of dogmatists). Only where that conviction, if only of a moment, can be broken long enough to permit that holistic growth in the meaning of all and every term of it, of that conviction, does language emerge amongst us. Mind is anomaly. But anomaly, alone, is just nothing, and can be safely neglected. But if that anomaly each of us is is auspicious of the moment of the other coming to that holistic critique of conviction, then language grows and matures more meaningfully than logical or epistemic analysis can ever reveal even to itself. An anomalous act is made the differing of all time in the response recognized itself emancipated by it. The least term of time is all the differing it is.
The cognitivist method of using brain damage to map the mind is rationally flawed. Hitting the tendon below the kneecap makes the leg jerk. This does not mean that the motivating consciousness of walking is centered there.
Ken Starr was supposed to be investigating Whitewater but found nothing there he could use against Clinton, so he fabricated the crime of philandering. It was a glaring case of prosecutorial misconduct. The fact that the Knave of Hearts likes his tarts does not prove him guilty of stealing them. This is what Clinton was, clumsily, asserting. But if ?being talk? is now subject to censure philosophy has a lot of explaining to do that it is dogmatically opposed to doing, or even permitting. Has philosophy really come to censorship?!!!!

Tim Smith's picture

Tim Smith

Wednesday, May 28, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

Gary,

Gary,
Philosophers are not bent on eliminating esoteric language... but I am.  I dare say I am the only person on this planet to have attempted to come to terms with your posts above despite the esoteric language.  For example ...coming to terms with this sentence is not fun for a reader supposedly present to discuss color ontology.
"For reasons that would take more space then (sic) this site probably has, let alone would tolerate on the question of color vision, each one of us is a way being what and who time is that is so real and articulated the universe of time that time is not even begun, let alone ended, until it is completed that articulation."
I specifically asked you to clarify this - twice ... as your reader.  You as writer and philosopher instead claim your wording to be (if I dare paraphrase) 'a liberty that promises understanding.'   Eleminativism (sic) indeed - denying either or both the love of wisdom or the sharing of it.  Instead of offering terms you offer more esoterism.  Godspeed to you Gary.  There is only so much life to live before that articulation is complete.
So let me get this straight... you can anesthetize the entire brain to make a point about time and the mind, but it is rationally flawed to do the same with parts of the brain to illustrate the multiplicity of consciousness.  Hmm... that's not fair nor is the Wada test brain damage.
Hitting the tendon below the kneecap does not  make the leg jerk if you have lesions on your cerebral cortex... which happens to be where the motivating consciousness of walking  and movement is.  Thanks for bringing that up.
Bill Clinton failed to assert Gore over Bush which is and was clumsy.  No one is censuring your "being talk" or censoring it for that matter.  I'm pretty sure no one else on the planet understands these posts well enough to do either.  I'm in your box now Gary.
Brown Gary...look it up.  Julian Barbour - you will be pleased and find much to resonate with your conception of mind and time and yes color.  If I understand you at all - this guy is your physicist of choice and current guest philosopher on this site.
I say again godspeed Gary.  I'm not going to read your books, but I will read your posts on this site at least.  Hopefully we will come to terms at some point.

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Guest

Sunday, August 10, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

And what is the difference

And what is the difference between an orange?
Actually, I might be set on saying that color is what an animal will experience in using the part of the brain that is connected to sight.  It's not like we know what it would be like, but to represent out-of-sight colors, we always use visible colors.  There is an answer, and there can be very few, so long as I consider birds... Like selective sight.  How much faster is the light birds see, and could we reproduce it with lenses, even if trained over time?  Do we need to?
Synesthesia.... Oh, wow.  I had wondered if this was a way to explore our societal connections to racially loaded words.  And I saw a bit about "brown".  Those who see color according to their attention have been told by doctors and parents, and all manner of those without it, to be in need of medical attention.  Many, not, as well.  I bet it's racism why, also; but maybe it's because the Bible doesn't mention synesthetes.  How close to Africa is Greece and Europe?  Maybe they were separated by religion or to keep the Romans and Ottomans away, and therefore a result of chaos.  Maybe before written history, there was simply an agreement.  But, I'm pretty sure humans understand there is no benefit to discrimination, and it's suggested by the mentioned respect of "Indians" to Europeans.  So, I went where I didn't want to go anyway.  Synesthesia can be hereditary, and is like a definition color palette, with an individual meaning to colors and other senses.  I had it for a bit after shrooming, where I tasted colors.  I was quite pleased with it. 
Because wavelengths can be perceived, and those are within a limit for sight experience, possibly for the reason that other wavelengths have a sense ability with it, one might consider the frequencies experienced by a body to be a full experience of all surroundings.  Birds have fast air, humans stand tall, dogs have four feet on the ground, and worms are the fish of dirt, fish have eye and brain locations that follow swimming patterns (forward, like erosion).  What other than whales eat plankton?  Birds see higher frequencies, possibly for subtle vibrations visible by blurring from great height; and we see them.  Birds might also rely on slow colors to pronounce there visible ones, even distinguish?
We see color using a part of our brain, occipital lobe, I think.  We use colors frequently enough that main ones are called primary.  Did groups per time or place or social set-up choose other colors?  If our whole bodies will perceive what's already there anyway, it might be smart to fix attention on a few colors, and work outward like voice training.  It's an obvious yes, of different color attentions.  The chakras could've been from rainbows, as our species would've been able to see them from the start of eyes.  Our attention to our bodies has been influenced by somewhat ancient attention to something we see looking up, in the sky, like birds but lighter than birds, can come and go where water goes, is rounded, and also has been suited to ourselves, but it's not ourselves... We find the glistening of sweat delightful.
Color can be seen with open or closed eyes.  It is typically photons through an eye, and can be trained over very much time to see what it can or now does see, and it may blow our minds.  How weird would it be if two sets of wavelengths could be viewed at once in an organism?  Of the possibilities of eyes and wavelength attention, it's one of the more able-to-exist ones.  What types of existing wave sets are compatible and are of just two sets of wavelengths.  I might be considering ghosts, souls.  I simply may.  What would they stick with a body for?  Maybe they leave us; and stay as a choice; maybe they transfer every single time one can.  Maybe that's why asocial people have certain qualities.  Some people have lame dreams of the future, like myself.  I might just be depressed. 
So, if there are ghosts, the transfers would eventually create types of people, more focused for some physical property, which would, by physical choices, start some evolution... But, will all possibilities be, and could we seek the answer to that?  A good guess is No, many things have been excluded and we can figure those out.  What is it though with perceived righteousness?! It's a resultant most, subject to chaos, but still.... That's only the measure for a time, later to be ridiculed by other standards of thought.  If it's all a fad, then it's all a reflection of a common thing of a physical state, emotional, common neural connections, objects of behavior (if we'd go the math route, which I don't even know if I'm using "object" right.) And I'm missing something.
Color.  Colors are things that, if in another reality, would be used to discriminate.  It's a set a Hz, that has a use by "life" according to out-dated Darwinism, excluding fish.  If we didn't see, and were still, as human but without eyes, we may have been incredibly hairy, used more saline, which does sound like a monkey; it doesn't make sense we came from monkeys, but makes more sense that us and monkeys came from the same thing, but not that either because of the two types of humans and many types of monkey like creatures.  We came from something here or gone, and that's about it.  Before Jesus is throw in here, he was offered herbs that have uses in Paganism that would do anyone well to look up.  I have to assume I'd hear someone say something about our origins having to do with Jesus.  That said: Hair grows with testosterone, and that might give a hint.  Bears have toes, also.  Humans, bears, and monkeys are on what sameness of continents... Baboons are awesome, and on the socially isolated India.  I wonder if the thing we came from evolved into all of these species by selection, from Africa or Pangea.  We might figure out a diet that would involve inducing our chemical make-up over time, and compare it to other diets.  And that's too much.
... Because life has altered the planet, from the changes per environment (and thinking "our bodies are smarter than us" which is a "philosophical oxymoron" for how we manipulate our own collective attentions to receive reality, excluding the impressive Hopis, and maybe all of the Native Americans, or other tribes that do rely on human connectedness to real life, not made up like the problems in math, like the pride of delegation, like jealousy, which very well could be a chemical response and experience of our environments (per time thus environment)...
So some monkeys see, well or poorly, red; pardon grammar.  Some humans see "auras".  What is that?!  It could be what we give off like mushrooms emit rock-decaying gas.  Shrooms.... Could we have guessed that about the gas?  If so, what might we be decaying?  But seriously, I have considered that the universe is like a radioactive particle, and we're so much smaller than a first guess.  We only expanded in surface area, is my guess (and a half life slows by amount of degradation per time, and we do know that time is a weird thing).  Is the planet not with mechanisms to feed on itself?  Stars?  That's cute, but contains mere traces of star components.  It ought to be an enjoyable decay...  It's what some think of existence, anyway.  And others?  Serious reverence.  Religion is basically a way of life, and it's actually fairly new that many are in a single country, with somewhat even distribution.  What of it?  The Mayans predicted a White God.  I wonder if they had different definitions of God than the arrived Spaniard.  Gods take life.  "God" is a word that is subject to humans individual use.  I wonder if there was a horrible misinterpretation.  Sadness.  Chaos.  Mexicans speaking Spanish.  "Colored people" and it's uses and reasons for uses.  Color. 
I'm the target of a witch hunt, not to mention being a witch, and have novel associations with the witch hunt.  I'm like the nicest person.  But, color. 
And my country asks me what color I am.  I wont even say Peach it's so ridiculous.  It's between my doctor and myself.  The Caucuses are pretty much in Russia, so what's with that?  If our country were a thing, it's a really complicated one.  I'll offer this, something about rose gives one the ability of see the future.  And I recommend if you choose to use it, use it with something that allows you to positively change it for the good of what you can lend your attention to.  I actually smoked the petals, and I still know things.  It could be a learned thing once an attention is gained. 
Thanks for the interesting considerations. 
 
 
 

Gary M Washburn's picture

Gary M Washburn

Thursday, August 21, 2014 -- 5:00 PM

The following is probably too

The following is probably too long in coming, and may be deemed mostly off topic, so take it for what it's worth.
What does agreement teach us? Is it really useful to be so facile in our forms and terms that we have a right to be understood as we think we mean what we say? What if it is misunderstanding that teaches us? What if it is mis-perception that develops perception? Are you familiar with the Berkeley piece (The Analyst)? The point of the calculus is to reduce change to the negligible term. But if that term is precisely the phenomenon we wish to understand, or at least recognize as being there at all, it's a fraud. It's the sort of fraudulence that saturates conventional thinking. But my dilemma is that convention is befogging. It is encompassing and easily dissipates critique as idiosyncrasy. The fraudulence of the calculus is that the neglected term (the infinitesimal) cannot be discerned between its being complementary or contradictory to its assumed reduction (even a crude attempt to draw the infinitesimal will show this). If convention is similar in this, our coming to terms, achieving a nominal disparity of meaning between us, is a misfortune, for we cease to learn from each other. But if there is a contrariety to conventional terms which that convention cannot distinguish between it, between us, which is contradicting and which complementing it, then there is meaning we are sharing in it that the world cannot penetrate. Now that meaning, certainly not nominal, is nevertheless anomalous to what either of us bring to it. But if there is anything we learn from it or that develops from it that achieves, if only between us, a successful critique of the fraud convention is in its neglect of it, then it may be that the idiolect implied is more meaningful than the more facile terms the world offers us.
I tried looking up as you directed, but came up empty. I do know that brown is a special color in that it is a mixture of all the primes, and may bring up an interesting divergence between the mixture of primes between light and pigment, which behave in a sense opposite (prime colors in light mix to make white, in pigment, black). But the question gets befogged between, say, the red thing and its being red. I think it highly unlikely that color sense has come to us without antecedence. But this does not mean that our seeing red is passive experience. It is high time biologists recognized a certain degree of active engagement in development. It's not that we choose to see red and so are enabled to, but that there is an active advance of inchoate traits that is the inverse of atrophy. We use what we are in ways not necessarily to the effect it might seem to have come to us for. There is red that can be inferred from the other primes. And I'm sure glasses that prevent us seeing red will not prevent us from making the inference. The fact is, seeing red is an important faculty for creatures that eat fruit or that make a great fuss about the general health of their mates. But perception is not a straightforward sensation. I have a ?floater? which I cannot see most of the time. Where does it go? It is obviously there, but the mind erases it. I recently came upon what I thought to be a tube, hiding behind some bushes ( I won't get into what I was doing there), but something directed me to look again, and pop! it suddenly became a flat strip some yards long, with a bulge along one edge that produced the highlight my eye (mind?) at first experienced as the roundness of a tube (it was a discarded garden edger). But the change in perception, very real, did not occur in a little piece of experience, but of the entire length of the object all at once. I have heard a story of a woman who had sight returned to her other eye, but it was weeks before she could see in three dimensions, and when she did it was all of a sudden. She described a sensation of near objects jumping up at her. This cannot happen in the eye, and must be in the mind, unless there is something going on in the optic nerve I've never heard of. But the suddenness of it implies, in the strict sense, that there is an activity presaging it that is quite precise in its deliberations, but with a precision that effectively eludes the pitfall of the difference between seeing double and double vision, or the red thing and its being red. Is there something of greater precision to consciousness than to our debates about its existence? And on this I'm afraid I find your gotcha! remark dismaying.
How to critique convention without critiquing anyone convinced of it, or being distracted by the finer points of that conviction? Or by assertions of it claiming to be the proper criteria of such talk? If the unintended term is how we learn, systems designed for the neglect of it reveal the hidden precision presaging that learning in the alterations in the quality of that conviction, not in its retrenchment. But if convention and consensus is a kind of conviction in the justice of that neglect, critiquing the world of it gets distracted by the difference between the character, or characterology, of a world altering in that conviction and of the individuals engaged in that critique. I hope to alter the capacity of the world to so convict us, without accusing any one in it of it. But this can't be done little by little in individual discussions. It only occurs wholesale, like any transformation of our powers of perception. But this means presenting it in a way that demands far more of an attention span than the world seems currently to encourage in us. My serious work, and I concede that my posts here struggle for words to sum it up, entail extensive and rather delicate lines of reasoning in which inferences emerge that without that context seem farfetched. But if conventional wisdom is wrong in supposing that continuity and consistency is rigor and agreement, or resemblance is formative of your precious categories, then it is changes in the character of this supposition that reveal it, not the output of its explicit reasoning. A notion such as this has a certain evolution as it waxes and wanes in personal conviction. We may insist that we do not know why this conviction should alter so, as some demand that emotions are anomalous to reason. But this supposition just sets up an edifice that gets in the way of learning.
What's it worth to sweep aside that edifice? This is not a matter of me convincing you of anything, or getting you to read anything. The reading suggestion I made earlier was merely a development of my enquiry as to whether I could offer my own work for your ?summer reading list,? now a moot question. But my problem is that editors think like you. You seem a fair enough minded guy, and maybe even open-minded enough to appreciate the complexity of my thought, even if you never come to quite agree with it. But editors are very much embedded in an edifice of conventional thinking which supports their career, and which they feel obligated to, and are pressed to make rapid decisions about texts they receive, and so base their decision on the material accompanying submissions and never read the text unless that accompanying material conforms. It's the world I want to reach, not individuals. I'm willing to take on any criticism of my thought so long as this is done in the context of the whole text, but not in a discussion about why it was never read at all. Every individual has a right to his or her own opinion and reasoning, but the world has no right to support convictions that can only then be brought into the light of day if they get past individuals exquisitely trained in (indoctrinated into?) those convictions. There is plenty of room for discussions of the finer points of ideas, but the effort to introduce a complete alternative to conventional terms and forms needs a way to make an end-run around these, which only then can be brought into a more customary style of discussion. Short of that discussion is myopic. Flatlandish.
The transcendental mindset of the Enlightenment is discredited today, but substituted by a kind of contemporaneity from which, as I suppose, we derive the idea of modernity. A system deemed to rely on the otherwise and elsewhere is supplanted by the here and now. But its methodologies are indistinguishable. And while it's quite true that the otherwise and elsewhere is an unreliable criteria for the here and now, it is just as negligent to so embed ourselves in the current that we fail to see the changes in our prejudices. The task of philosophy is not to establish an edifice of supposed knowledge, but to so recognize the changing of that supposition over time that we become less prejudicial in either the here and now or the otherwise and elsewhere. Knowledge is one or the other, but wisdom is neither. The world has moods, just as individuals do. If we assume them anomalous to truth we shut ourselves off from learning. But that learning is a response to the term unintended in the fixation either with the here and now or the otherwise and elsewhere. But recognizing that unintended term helps us to realize the benefits of the moods and modes of time. It is a dialectic, but not in the sense of a clash of opposites, but as a contrariety in which opposition is complete neither in real nor in rational terms. And if that contrariety is indeterminate between its being contradictory or complementary to either the current or transcendental mode of thinking our difficulties in understanding each other, as the unintended term, enjoins us in a drama emancipating time from both. Agreement is not the goal, nor is an adversarial contest. The missing term is time. This because the completest time is its departure. Change. There is no term that can hold it before us for examination. But reasoning relies upon that possessed term. And yet, we can reason through the changes in our certitude of that term and so learn from the unintended in it, as reason loses its possessiveness of it and of the presumptive right to be understood. The moods of time free us from the presumed unity of language and yet dramatically engage us as partners and participants in that emancipation. Time is the most urgent and most unendurable term. The world, conventional wisdom, has no justice in its offer of our understanding each other, in the rules or lexical storehouse of that offer, nor of our facile ability to know it. What we share of time is neither as alone as transcendence or naturalism would define it, nor as united as the world would. But what is neither one thing nor the other can have a meaning every bit as rigorous as transcendental, natural, or worldly reason would determine only one thing or the other. Contrariety in this sense is the nexus of time, and of human community. But things like emotion and fashion, personal perspective and intimate idiolect, are not justly neglected, or taken only in some objectifying mode, if we mean to learn.

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