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Posted: 14 October 2008 12:32 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 76 ]
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dougsmith - 14 October 2008 03:53 AM
StephenLawrence - 13 October 2008 11:46 PM

As real objects are not coloured this cannot be true.

And here we have a very good instance of this not being semantic games.

This is also an issue of semantics, Stephen. It depends what you mean by “colored”. If you mean that they would display the same qualia to every creature with eyes, then no, they are not colored.

This is close to what I mean.
As we seem to agree that different creatures with eyes might see different colours and none of these colours are the objectively right colour, it follows that the colour we see cannot be a property of a particular wavelength. We also agree that we don’t see the wavelength.

I’m actually not sure what we disagree about. 

If you mean by “colored” that they reflect certain specific wavelengths of light and not others, then yes, they are colored.

But Doug I can’t imagine why any one would mean this. I’m talking about the colours we see, like red and blue etc. I’m not talking about wavelengths, again I think we agree we don’t see wavelengths.

I think between us there is actually much more misunderstanding than disagreement but between Wes and I, I think we have real disagreement. Wes really thinks that a particular wavelength or object is (objectively) blue and I think we know this is false, don’t we?

Stephen

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Posted: 14 October 2008 01:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 77 ]
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Stephen, you wrote in part:

<4) The objective light can’t be a particular colour and this is the biggest reason that I believe as I do. It doesn’t make sense to me to talk about the light or the object being a colour, if it is not any colour in particular. It makes much more sense to me to say it is not coloured but a brain wired up in a certain way would react to it in a way that produces the experience of seeing a particular colour. 

I think it would really help me understand your point of view, if you’d explain why you think I’m wrong about 4) or if Doug has already done it, point me to the post. (I haven’t read his today’s posts yet.)>


As an engineer (I’m no philosopher, but Doug is) I am not sure I can help you with your problem.  Perhaps Doug will help me if I make a serious mistake.  I’ll take one more go at it and of course my approach will be mechanistic.  Colors like red are definitions we have assigned to certain unique particular wavelengths of light.  Those wavelengths have, or actually are all the non-red wavelengths in the visible spectrum, bounced off the real, out there in objective space, object.  Take the object away and the transmission from the object ceases.  Change its reflectivity index and the wavelengths change, i.e., its perceived particular color shifts.  By seeing I mean when the light strikes the retina it excites certain cells in a certain way.  Those cells transmit that information to our brain along neural pathways.  Our brain recognizes the information as the color red because sometime in the past were were taught to associate the word “red” with the information our brain received.  In absence of the definition we would still see the color but simply have no word for it.  We did not make up it all up a priori in our mind, we experienced it in real time.  I am describing a process originating from the object in the presence of a light source reasonably assumed here as natural sunlight.  I am at a loss to appreciate a philosophical problem here.  For me the process of seeing and using any of our senses is clear and results unambiguous.  You stated that it does not make sense to you that light or an object has a particular color - I am again at a loss to understand your problem because reflected light has a particular color a fact you deny with no reasoning save personal incredulity.  In “The Astonishing Hypothesis,” Dr. Sir Francis Crick deals with the way our brains process information, particularly visual information.  If you have not read the book I recommend it to you.  It may be able to help you.

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Posted: 14 October 2008 03:17 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 78 ]
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Wes,

StephenLawrence - 13 October 2008 11:46 PM

 
One creature could see red and one could see blue but neither would be the objectively correct colour, that is one of two philosophical problems I’ve been focusing on. Neither creature is right, that’s what I mean by reflected light does not have a particular colour.

Ok I can see I’m being confusing, given the way you look at it.

When I’m refering to the colour I’m refering to what I see, meaning what it appears to be, which Doug calls qualia.

When you refer to it, you are just refering to the label we use for light inbetween certain ranges of wavelengths, I think? I do find this in itself a confusing way of thinking about it. If a person reports that they see colours when they hear music, as some do, they wouldn’t be refering to light at certain wavelengths, they would be refering to the appearance to them of light at certain wavelengths.

So to be,hopefully, less confusing, I’ll put it this way.

The apearance of blue can’t be a “faithful image” because there is no objectively correct way for it to appear.

Again reading Bertrand Russell he seems to view the colours as the appearances, as I do. I do this because without the appearances we see nothing, so what we immediately see or have conscious awareness of, is all appearance.

I’ll quote him again, it may help.

“...................................................it is rational to believe that our sense data - for example, those which we regard as associated with my table - are really signs of the existence of something independant of our perceptions. That is to say, over and above the sensation of colour, hardness noise, and so on, which makes up the appearance of the table to me, I assume that there is something else, of which these things are appearances of the table to me. The colour ceases to exist if I shut my eyes, the sensation of hardness ceases to exist if I remove my arm from contact with the table, the sound ceases to exist if I cease to rap my knuckles on the table. But I do not believe that when these cease the table ceases.”

Stephen

[ Edited: 15 October 2008 02:17 AM by StephenLawrence ]
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Posted: 15 October 2008 04:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 79 ]
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The fact that we see three primary colors is because we have three sorts of cones in our retinas. If we had four sorts of cones (like birds do) we’d see four primary colors. This is called “tetrachromacy”, which is related to normal human vision as normal human vision is related to red/green color blindness. Those who are red/green colorblind have only two sorts of cones.

So yes, the phenomenon of colors is due to features of our retinas that could have been otherwise.

But there is more to vision than color. There is also shape, shading, darkness and brightness, etc. All of those are objective features of the light which we see immediately, and which present to us our environment.

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Posted: 15 October 2008 06:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 80 ]
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StephenLawrence - 14 October 2008 03:17 PM

Wes,

StephenLawrence - 13 October 2008 11:46 PM

 
One creature could see red and one could see blue but neither would be the objectively correct colour, that is one of two philosophical problems I’ve been focusing on. Neither creature is right, that’s what I mean by reflected light does not have a particular colour.

Ok I can see I’m being confusing, given the way you look at it.

When I’m refering to the colour I’m refering to what I see, meaning what it appears to be, which Doug calls qualia.

When you refer to it, you are just refering to the label we use for light inbetween certain ranges of wavelengths, I think? I do find this in itself a confusing way of thinking about it. If a person reports that they see colours when they hear music, as some do, they wouldn’t be refering to light at certain wavelengths, they would be refering to the appearance to them of light at certain wavelengths.

So to be,hopefully, less confusing, I’ll put it this way.

The apearance of blue can’t be a “faithful image” because there is no objectively correct way for it to appear.

Again reading Bertrand Russell he seems to view the colours as the appearances, as I do. I do this because without the appearances we see nothing, so what we immediately see or have conscious awareness of, is all appearance.

I’ll quote him again, it may help.

“...................................................it is rational to believe that our sense data - for example, those which we regard as associated with my table - are really signs of the existence of something independant of our perceptions. That is to say, over and above the sensation of colour, hardness noise, and so on, which makes up the appearance of the table to me, I assume that there is something else, of which these things are appearances of the table to me. The colour ceases to exist if I shut my eyes, the sensation of hardness ceases to exist if I remove my arm from contact with the table, the sound ceases to exist if I cease to rap my knuckles on the table. But I do not believe that when these cease the table ceases.”

Stephen

I seem to agree with Russell, but his conclusion that the table is really there independent of his perception, seems at odds with yours.  In previous posts you have wondered whether objectively real objects were really there, quite unlike Russell (if I read the quote correctly).  You seem to be playing the symantic game again in saying “what we see or have conscious awarness of, is all appearence” using your definition of ‘appearence’.  The use of which itself is misleading.  It is, IMO, disingenous word play.  I suspect you would have me acknowledge that it is ONLY appearence.  Russell did not not say or imply that.  He clearly understood his table existed and only his perceptions ceased when he closed his eyes, moved his arm, etc.  There is no grand new philosophical question here as far as I can understand.  But again, a Philospoher, I am not.

You wrote “The appearance of blue can’t be a “faithful image” because there is no objectively correct way for it to appear.”  (Again the misleading use of ‘appearence’.)  Here you are mixing concepts.  Dividing your statement into the two concepts: 1) You say there is “no objectively correct way”; which requires external observation, measurements, and other data as well as a criteria set to judge “correctness” and a process for it all (way).  That process: observations, reasoned criteria, and testing the observations against criteria - is called the methed of science.  2) You then add the wholly internal concept of ‘appearence’.  You are saying in your statement that because your internal signal processing system may be unreliable or wired/configured differently (appearences), there is no objectively correct way (scientific) to describe it.

Again I find no unresolved issues, only (at best) a very odd personal problem.  It is also becoming tedious.  I also wonder (skeptically) about your intent.  You see, the notion that ‘all is appearence’ slips and slides into post moderism with all its attendent foolishness.

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Posted: 15 October 2008 07:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 81 ]
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wesmjohnson - 15 October 2008 06:56 AM

I seem to agree with Russell, but his conclusion that the table is really there independent of his perception, seems at odds with yours.  In previous posts you have wondered whether objectively real objects were really there, quite unlike Russell (if I read the quote correctly).  You seem to be playing the symantic game again in saying “what we see or have conscious awarness of, is all appearence” using your definition of ‘appearence’.  The use of which itself is misleading.  It is, IMO, disingenous word play.  I suspect you would have me acknowledge that it is ONLY appearence.  Russell did not not say or imply that.  He clearly understood his table existed and only his perceptions ceased when he closed his eyes, moved his arm, etc.  There is no grand new philosophical question here as far as I can understand.  But again, a Philospoher, I am not.

You wrote “The appearance of blue can’t be a “faithful image” because there is no objectively correct way for it to appear.”  (Again the misleading use of ‘appearence’.)  Here you are mixing concepts.  Dividing your statement into the two concepts: 1) You say there is “no objectively correct way”; which requires external observation, measurements, and other data as well as a criteria set to judge “correctness” and a process for it all (way).  That process: observations, reasoned criteria, and testing the observations against criteria - is called the methed of science.  2) You then add the wholly internal concept of ‘appearence’.  You are saying in your statement that because your internal signal processing system may be unreliable or wired/configured differently (appearences), there is no objectively correct way (scientific) to describe it.

Again I find no unresolved issues, only (at best) a very odd personal problem.  It is also becoming tedious.  I also wonder (skeptically) about your intent.  You see, the notion that ‘all is appearence’ slips and slides into post moderism with all its attendent foolishness.

It couldn’t be plainer. Russell says “the colour ceases to exist if I shut my eyes”. The colour that you percieve, rather than being a “faithful image” is not part of the objective world external to you.

Rather than this being semantic games you are just plain wrong, on this particular point. 

My intention, when discussing philosophy, is in this case and usually is, to see if I can find stuff out. Take points of view, have them challenged, see if the challenges work, see if my views stand up and hopefully over time end up with a better model of how things are. 

As you say there is no grand new philosophical problem, it’s the same age old one between realism and idealism. Neither seem to work and I don’t think we’ve come up with something that does yet, which is what makes the subject worth probing.

Stephen

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Posted: 15 October 2008 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 82 ]
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Stephen, you wrote:

<It couldn’t be plainer. Russell says “the colour ceases to exist if I shut my eyes”. The colour that you percieve, rather than being a “faithful image” is not part of the objective world external to you.> 

Yes, it could not be more plain.  The color, as well as the entire image of the table, does cease to exist when he shuts his eyes .  The color and image HE sees.  (I suspect he may have an after image in his mind but that is a function of memory and optical apparatus.)  However, simply because the color and image cease to exist for HIM and HIM alone in this experiment, does not in any way imply it ceases to exist objectively.  In fact he could take a snapshot of the table with his eyes closed thereby capturing an image of the table, the color of which, ceased to exist for him.

[ Edited: 15 October 2008 08:27 AM by wesmjohnson ]
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Posted: 25 November 2008 12:38 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 83 ]
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The Foundational Questions Institute is sponsoring an essay competition on “The Nature of Time.”
<...>
All of the entries are put online
HERE, and each comes with its own discussion forum where readers can leave comments. A departure from the usual protocols of scientific communication, but that’s a good thing. (Inevitably there is a great deal of chaff along with the wheat among the submitted essays, but that’s the price you pay.) What is more, in addition to a judging by a jury of experts, there is also a community vote, which comes with its own prizes. So feel free to drop by and vote for mine if you like — or vote for someone else’s if you think it’s better. There’s some good stuff there.

Source: Sean Carroll, Cosmic Variance

As for Sean Carroll’s essay, it was an interesting read and can be found HERE.  Happy cerebrating.

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Posted: 21 March 2009 11:58 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 84 ]
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Chocotacoi8 - 25 November 2008 12:38 PM

As for Sean Carroll’s essay, it was an interesting read and can be found HERE.  Happy cerebrating.

Thanks for the link. The results of the competition are out and Sean Carroll’s essay won 3rd prize. I have just read his essay, “What if Time Really Exists?”.  His arguments about the reality of time, to my mind, is realistic just as the arguments of D. H. Mellor on the nature of causality and the reality of time are convincing.

The key issue is to explain the arrow of time which is what we and the universe experience.

Here is a talk by Sean Carroll at the AAS on The Origin of The Universe and the Arrow of Time

Sean Carroll is publishing a new book, “From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time”

http://preposterousuniverse.com/eternitytohere/

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