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Are there other colors?

 
 
kawa
 
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 04:46 am
I have a weird question on my mind.

In Consciousness Explained Dan Dennett exemplified color perception by the brain as some kind of property detector of surfaces by comparing it with the randomly-cut Jell-O box.

If colors are just functional implementations in the brain of specific kinds of surface property detection schemes, then doesn't this mean that one can design a artificial brain with a Modified-Jell-O-COLOR-BOX detector in order for that specific entity which possesses the brain to experience colors that are unknown to us humans ?

My point is this: If colors are only functional implementations in the brain doesn't that mean that there could be other colors than the one known to us by experience ( other than the ones from the light spectrum ) ?

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Type: Question • Score: 2 • Views: 4,272 • Replies: 16
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fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 10:16 am
@kawa,
Read Varela (The Embodied Mind). Colour perception has been empirically shown to be a function both of dynamic perceptual activity (including gross bodily actions) and contextual social variables. So get your "artificial brain" to engage in human physical and social activities and report back ! Smile

BTW your question is in accordance with the constructivist view that " general reality" is "observer specific" (or less opaquely "species specific") . Thus the question "are there other colours ?" is a subtopic of the question "are there other things". The reason colour is chosen as a focal example is due to its apparently simple relationship to physical measurement. Varela (et al) deconstructs this assumption.
High Seas
 
  0  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 10:54 am
@fresco,
Sorry not familiar with Varela - will look him up - but isn't the argument you describe similar to the one already made by Goethe in his theory of color?
kawa
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 11:32 am
@High Seas,
As far as I've been able to understand in the little amount of reading, Varela is trying to say that there isn't any non-circular definition of colors. For example :

Why is the apple red when ripe? Because it needs to be seen by creatures that can detect redness so its seeds can be spread.
Why are there creatures that can detect redness? Because creatures like these wouldn't survive if they wouldn't be able to detect fruit that happen to be ripe when detected as red by the same creatures.

redness and redness-detection co-evolved together.
more here : http://ase.tufts.edu/cogstud/papers/thompso.htm

so as far as i understand, in it simplest form, the answer to my question "Are there other colors?" is YES.


fresco
 
  2  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 12:35 pm
@High Seas,
Yes, Goethe was another phenomenologist. His colour theory was one of the factors which led Wittgenstein to revoke his logical positivism.
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Sat 26 Nov, 2011 12:37 pm
@kawa,
You are asking an ontological question to which there may be no meaningful answer unless you are prepared to investigate the concept of "existence" per se.
High Seas
 
  0  
Reply Sun 27 Nov, 2011 11:24 am
@fresco,
Thank you very much.
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  0  
Reply Tue 29 Nov, 2011 10:27 am
@kawa,
kawa wrote:


so as far as i understand, in it simplest form, the answer to my question "Are there other colors?" is YES.

Not sure I can help you as my training is in mathematics - but why not just take the simple definition of wavelength? Then of course the answer is YES.
http://loke.as.arizona.edu/~ckulesa/camp/em_spectrum.gif
http://loke.as.arizona.edu/~ckulesa/camp/spectroscopy_intro.html
0 Replies
 
High Seas
 
  0  
Reply Tue 29 Nov, 2011 10:41 am
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

You are asking an ontological question to which there may be no meaningful answer unless you are prepared to investigate the concept of "existence" per se.

Isn't it the case that if we define "color" as a measurement rather than a "on" (that's Greek for "being" as you know but as the original poster may not) we avoid this recursion? The answer (is it mathematically trivial?) is the same as that to the problem of deciding if smaller and larger things exist - well, they do:
http://www.windows2universe.org/physical_science/magnetism/images/em_spectrum_berkeley.jpg
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Nov, 2011 10:59 am
@High Seas,
Alas, the word "measurement" does not solve it, because the first level of all measurement is nominal (i.e. naming or "thinging"). But if "existence" is defined relativistically, i.e. as mutual relationship between observer and observed, then "colour" is about the nature of the relationship, and that can have more than a physical or psychological aspect. i.e. colour is a modus operandi.
High Seas
 
  0  
Reply Tue 29 Nov, 2011 11:11 am
@fresco,
If what you say is true then I live in a hell of infinite regress - just so you know I've spent the last several days (and nights) attempting to quantify "Trust as an Economic Variable" (yes, honestly) and looked in here by way of seeking something completely different. So much for that idea.... Thanks anyway Smile
fresco
 
  1  
Reply Tue 29 Nov, 2011 12:58 pm
@High Seas,
Laughing
Cheer up ! There is no logical problem with establishing psychological or social metrics on which to base economic decision procedures. No doubt "confidence levels" are part of such procedures, thereby providing a measure of their "validity". The only problem would in assuming concepts like "trust" have "independent" objectivity outside particular decision procedures.
High Seas
 
  0  
Reply Wed 30 Nov, 2011 12:39 pm
@fresco,
fresco wrote:

Laughing
Cheer up ! There is no logical problem with establishing psychological or social metrics on which to base economic decision procedures....

Your motives in that post can only be eleemosynary - appreciated! - unless you're alluding to Epictetus. Love this passage >
Quote:
εἰ δ᾽ οἱ λόγοι αὐτοὶ ἐφ᾽ αὑτῶν τοῦτο οὐ διαπράττονται, τυχὸν μὲν ἐγὼ αἴτιος, τυχὸν δὲ καὶ ἀνάγκη οὕτως ἔχειν.

> it's on the first page of his Works on the Perseus website, http://www.perseus.tufts.edu (enter "Epictetus" in search box). Cheers Smile
0 Replies
 
AllAboutPhilosophy
 
  1  
Reply Sun 19 May, 2013 05:02 am
@kawa,
There is no weird question in philosophy of mind :-).

Have you heard about the zombies and mutants thought experiment? Maybe it could explain you the concept of colours. I'm not saying it answers the question completely because as far as I know this problem still remains unsolved. But if you want to get acquainted with the experiment you can read the article "Philosophical zombies and mutants".

Edit [Moderator]: Link removed
0 Replies
 
Speakpigeon
 
  1  
Reply Fri 11 Apr, 2014 08:51 am
@kawa,
Kawa wrote:
If colors are only functional implementations in the brain doesn't that mean that there could be other colors than the one known to us by experience ( other than the ones from the light spectrum ) ?

If, then yes, although maybe we've reached some limit since our range of colours is already impressive.

To a person seeing things in black and white it would be easy for normally sighted people to prove there are other colours. So, somebody seeing more colours than we normally do may be able to offer us some indication that s/he does.

We are also supposed to perceive electromagnetic wavelengths slightly differently from each other, so there you are.

We may further conjecture that colours are coded in our brains through specific neurons or neuron structures, if so it seems reasonable that we could one day extend our range of colours, for example to be able to see objects in infrared light.

Would such colour feel similar to the original range of colours? It difficult to say. Reds, blues and yellows sort of feel different from black and white, or even greys. But if a new colour felt like a sound that would be counterproductive.

Maybe it could feel completely differently from anything we normally experience. That would be an awesome moment.

Well, fat chance.
EB

0 Replies
 
void123
 
  0  
Reply Sun 27 Apr, 2014 10:09 pm
@kawa,
yes

http://www.sott.net/article/203169-Chickens-can-see-more-colours-than-humans-Scientist
0 Replies
 
puzzledperson
 
  0  
Reply Sat 31 Oct, 2015 07:55 am
@kawa,
One of philosophy's seldom appreciated contributions is the role advocated by A.J. Ayer: to clarify the problems of philosophy by means of an analysis of language.

"Color" is a perceptual phenomenon, not a structure in the brain: though biological theories of color perception may associate it with certain structures -- and not only or even primarily with static structures but with dynamic processes involving those structures -- color is a particular category of perceptual experience, not an anatomical structure that may be correlated with it or posited to have a causative relation to it.

Since color is an individual experience, it may not be meaningful to compare color perceptions, which is what you appear to be doing when you talk about "the colors known to humanity" and ask if others are possible. There is no way to prove that another sentient being has the same color experience that I do simply because we point to a pigmented object and use an adjective like "red" that we have been taught in common to associate with that object.

That said, I could certainly meaningfully ask whether I could experience colors other than the ones I am already familiar with. The trivial answer would seem to be "yes" for the simple reason that over the course of my life there have been many occasions when I experienced a particular color for the first time. Why not again?

If on the other hand you are asking whether it might be possible for some neural modification to result in new perceptions of color, that could be regarded as an empirical question which cannot be determined a priori.


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