• Janus
    5.4k


    OK, fine, keep worrying about it then. :razz:
  • jkg20
    199
    All you have to do is rub your eyes and you can see Lights. So we know that even that very external mechanical stimulation of the Visual system can create a Visual effect. Stands to reason that more direct probing inside the Brain will produce all kinds of Auditory, Visual, and Memory experiences. I thought this was realized by Science decades ago and is pretty much common knowledge by now.
    I don't think it is common knowledge, more like common jumping to conclusions. The picture you go on to paint in the subsequent part of your response seems like it might be based on the kind of conceptual confusion that this blog article hints at and that @Janus also seem to have had in mind in his earlier remarks. Take visible features like colour and shape out of the world in which objects like brains and retinas and snooker balls exist and it becomes impossible to say anything coherent about that world at all.
  • SteveKlinko
    185
    ↪SteveKlinko

    All you have to do is rub your eyes and you can see Lights. So we know that even that very external mechanical stimulation of the Visual system can create a Visual effect. Stands to reason that more direct probing inside the Brain will produce all kinds of Auditory, Visual, and Memory experiences. I thought this was realized by Science decades ago and is pretty much common knowledge by now.
    I don't think it is common knowledge, more like common jumping to conclusions. The picture you go on to paint in the subsequent part of your response seems like it might be based on the kind of conceptual confusion that this blog article hints at and that Janus also seem to have had in mind in his earlier remarks. Take visible features like colour and shape out of the world in which objects like brains and retinas and snooker balls exist and it becomes impossible to say anything coherent about that world at all.
    jkg20

    There are no Fermions or Bosons involved with the scene you might See while dreaming. In this case the scene you See is not correlated with any Fermion and Boson configurations in the real world. So half of the premise of the article is not even true. The contradiction does not even exist.
  • Pattern-chaser
    98
    Take visible features like colour and shape out of the world in which objects like brains and retinas and snooker balls exist and it becomes impossible to say anything coherent about that world at all.jkg20

    To take the experience of seeing colour out of the world, and into the viewer's mind (where it belongs) is not the same as taking colour out of the world. Reflectivity of certain frequencies of electromagnetic radiation is part of the world. A human viewer's reaction to them is inside the viewer's mind. The parts that belong in our minds are just labels and explanations that we create for our own convenience and use. Note: they are labels for external features, and for our internal experiences of them. Labels are just vocabulary, when it comes down to it, aren't they? :chin:
  • jkg20
    199
    The blog site is specifically targetted at the account of colour vision you sketched out and does not deal with dreams at all. As regards dreaming, the claim that anyone sees anything in a dream needs arguing for, not just assuming. Dreaming might involve mental imagery, sure, but it remains an unargued assumption that seeing involves mental imagery. After all, I can have mental images of things far distant when I am looking at things standing right in front of me.
  • jkg20
    199
    To take the experience of seeing colour out of the world, and into the viewer's mind (where it belongs) is not the same as taking colour out of the world.
    Agreed, but it is not the experience of seeing colour that the kind of account of vision SteveKlinko sketches threatens to remove from the world, but colour itself. Help yourself to whatever surface feature of objects you want to identify with colour - in your post you identify it as a certain kind of reflectiveness - if I insist that experiencing an instance of the colour red and experiencing an instance of that kind of reflectiveness are one and the same thing, any argument that removes instances of the colour red from the world removes instances of that kind of reflectiveness from the world as well, and the blog post I linked to argues - at least as I understand it - that that would be an incoherent idea.
  • Pattern-chaser
    98
    ...it is not the experience of seeing colour that the kind of account of vision SteveKlinko sketches threatens to remove from the world, but colour itself. Help yourself to whatever surface feature of objects you want to identify with colour - in your post you identify it as a certain kind of reflectiveness - if I insist that experiencing an instance of the colour red and experiencing an instance of that kind of reflectiveness are one and the same thing, any argument that removes instances of the colour red from the world removes instances of that kind of reflectiveness from the world as well, and the blog post I linked to argues - at least as I understand it - that that would be an incoherent idea.jkg20

    You are missing a distinction. A human can experience seeing the colour red. A machine or a robot can measure the presence or absence of electromagnetic radiation of a particular frequency, but it cannot experience redness as a human can.

    You could argue, if you wanted to, that a robot or machine has its own experience of redness as a result of taking measurements and detecting the appropriate frequency radiation to be present. But the robot/machine experience and the human experience are two different things. Both experiences are based on the presence of electromagnetic radiation, but that's all they have in common.

    So the human experience of redness is unique. Part of that experience is something we call "colour". And in that sense, colour is not part of the Physical World, nor has it ever been. Colour is something humans experience that machines and robots cannot. So colour is correctly considered not to be part of the Physical Universe. It's part of the Conscious Universe, and is a human creation.

    N.B. that which gives rise to colour is very definitely part of the Physical Universe. Colour itself is part of the Conscious Universe, and can only be perceived or experienced by humans.
  • jkg20
    199
    If I am missing a distinction of any importance it is not between a human seeing the colour red and a machine "measuring" electromagnetic radiation. The issue is what do I, as a human being, see when I see an instance of redness. I certainly do not see electromagnetic radiation. You earlier equated redness with a kind of relectance property of the surface of objects (presumably the visible surfaces of objects, by the way, and try making sense of that concept whilst keeping colours inside your head). Go ahead and make that identification if you like, but note that this surface-reflectance property is also NOT electromagnetic radiation. So, even if what I see when I see an instance of redness is an instance of that surface-reflectance property you are talking about, redness is right out there in the world, not inside my head. At least, no one has yet provided any argument on this thread to establish otherwise, just a bunch of assumptions. There have of course been many philosophers that have tried to argue that colour cannot be out there in the world, Locke for one, although I doubt he was the first, and often they appeal to existence of various kinds of perceptual error/relativity to do so, and if you want to start analysing such things as the argument from illusion or the argument from hallucination and what they may or may not prove, I'm happy to engage.
  • Pattern-chaser
    98
    The issue is what do I, as a human being, see when I see an instance of redness. I certainly do not see electromagnetic radiation.jkg20

    Agreed. :up:

    You earlier equated redness with a kind of reflectance property of the surface of objectsjkg20

    I hope I didn't. I was trying to emphasise the difference between those two things.

    ...redness is right out there in the world, not inside my head. At least, no one has yet provided any argument on this thread to establish otherwise, just a bunch of assumptions.jkg20

    Redness is being used to describe the human experience of seeing something that is red. That experience has no existence - none at all - outside of your own head. The thing that reflects light whose frequency is around 700nm is part of the real world; your experience of seeing it is not.

    This is not an assumption, or even an inference. It is a simple deduction based on observation of the real world. The thing that emits or reflects red light is physically real. Your experience of seeing it is not. Your experience takes place in your mind; it exists in your mind; it has no existence outside of your mind. If it does exist in the real, physical, world, point to it! :razz:

    Colour is not an illusion or an hallucination. It is real, but not in the sense that it exists in the real, physical, world. It is a real part of the Conscious Universe. It is not existent in the Physical Universe. We can prove this is so by observing that colour does not exist in the Physical Universe. We can measure all we want; we will not and cannot detect colour. We can detect electromagnetic radiation of the form we call light, but we cannot detect colour. We can label particular frequencies of light with the names of colours, but we simply refer to our own experience of seeing when we do, and we do it for our own convenience. Why wouldn't we? :wink:

    Our mental creations are so intimate that we overlay them onto the world, where we find them meaningful. They attach (in our minds), if you like, to things out there. But they remain our creations. If all humans disappeared today, colour, and the experience of seeing something red, will be gone forever.
  • jkg20
    199
    Redness is being used to describe the human experience of seeing something that is red.

    In this statement lies the crux of the issue: At one and the same time you imply that "something is red" (i.e. the something I might see in the world around me) and on the other that the experience (of seeing something that is red) is red. Presumably you are using "red" in two distinct senses here: let "red1" apply to snookerballs and other things in the world, "red2" apply to these things you are calling "experiences". The opposing view is that there are not two such meanings, that there is only one meaning for "red" and it is the one we use when we say that snooker balls are red. If these things you are calling experiences were also capabely of being red in that unitary sense, then one ought to be able to put one of these experiences next to a snooker ball and say something like "look, they are both the same colour". But clearly, whatever these things you are calling experiences are, that is not something one can do with them. So, you seem to be forced to reject the unitary view of what "red" means, and are left with "red1" applying to things in the world like snooker balls, and "red2" applying to whatever these things called experiences are. Maybe when you earlier tied "red" to a surface-reflectance property, you meant red1. (Note that the relative metaphysical/epistemological/logical priority of red1 and red2 is not yet in question, the use of numerals is there just to indicate a supposed difference, not a supposed priority of any kind).

    What you have to do now, though, is convince your opponent that these things you are calling experiences actually exist at all. Your opponent is happy to accept that snookerballs and all sorts of other visible things exist and can be red1. Let's be very clear about this: your opponent here is specifically NOT denying that people see red1 snookerballs and that they can be perfectly wellaware of the fact that they are seeing red1 snookerballs when they do so. They are instead challenging the assumption that when people do see red1 snookerballs that there are any entities (in any world whatever) called experiences that need to be appealed to and that can be red2. How are you going to convince your opponent to the contrary? You cannot just say that it is obvious that there are such things and that they are red2, since the only obvious thing for your opponents is that there are people, red1 objects, and that the former can sometimes see the latter.

    Typically philosophers that would be sympathetic to your kind of view have attemtped to show that in giving an account of what it is for a person to see a red1 snookerball, one just has to appeal to things of the kind you are calling "experiences" and that these things must be red2. However, establishing that kind of position requires argument and should not simply be assumed. Typically the arguments that are used to so establish it are arguments from perceptual error, but those arguments are very definitely not watertight. So far in this thread there has been no argument given that there must be such things.
  • SteveKlinko
    185
    ↪SteveKlinko The blog site is specifically targetted at the account of colour vision you sketched out and does not deal with dreams at all. As regards dreaming, the claim that anyone sees anything in a dream needs arguing for, not just assuming. Dreaming might involve mental imagery, sure, but it remains an unargued assumption that seeing involves mental imagery. After all, I can have mental images of things far distant when I am looking at things standing right in front of me.jkg20
    To prove that Mental Imagery and Dreams exist would be to solve the problem of Consciousness itself. You are asking for the Answer before you even start thinking about the Problem. For now we have to assume these things exist or we will get nowhere. We only have our own inner experiences to work with. I have Conscious Visual Imagery experiences when I am awake and also when I Dream. Nobody can prove to you that those experiences exist. What are those experiences?
  • jkg20
    199

    For now we have to assume these things exist or we will get nowhere.

    If the only way to motivate a problem is to make unargued assumptions that lead to that problem, then there is good reason to be suspicious of the unargued assumptions.

    Let me have one last stab at explaining myself, although I thought my last reply to @Pattern-chaser put it as clearly as possible. Consider the following three phenomena:
    1) Having a mental image of a red snooker ball.
    2) Having a dream of a red snooker ball.
    3) Seeing a red snooker ball.
    I am in no way shape or form denying that such phenomena as these exist: people engage in mental imagery, people dream and people see. The specific assumption (and an assumption is all that it is at the moment) I am bringing into the spotlight and challenging is that those three phenomena share a common factor over and above the bare fact that they are about a red snooker ball. You and Pattern-chaser appear to believe that there is such a common factor, but have provided no arguments for agreeing with you. Furthermore, you both also appear to be suggesting (again, suggesting and not arguing) that redness is really only a feature of this supposed common factor. Why should anyone join you in so assuming if doing so at best just leads to problems that can be otherwise avoided, and at worst involves the kind of incoherence that the blog page I linked to indicates?
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    Maybe a fourth case needs to be added that might (and let me emphasise the might) push one to look for a common factor:
    4) Visually mistaking a red snooker ball for a yellow snooker ball (e.g. because of light conditions, or perhaps an unusually virulent attack of jaundice).

    In a case like that there is some pressure to think both that there is actually something that is yellow but that it is not the snooker ball, and in that case what is it that is yellow?
  • SteveKlinko
    185
    Let me have one last stab at explaining myself, although I thought my last reply to Pattern-chaser put it as clearly as possible. Consider the following three phenomena:
    1) Having a mental image of a red snooker ball.
    2) Having a dream of a red snooker ball.
    3) Seeing a red snooker ball.
    I am in no way shape or form denying that such phenomena as these exist: people engage in mental imagery, people dream and people see. The specific assumption (and an assumption is all that it is at the moment) I am bringing into the spotlight and challenging is that those three phenomena share a common factor over and above the bare fact that they are about a red snooker ball. You and Pattern-chaser appear to believe that there is such a common factor, but have provided no arguments for agreeing with you. Furthermore, you both also appear to be suggesting (again, suggesting and not arguing) that redness is really only a feature of this supposed common factor. Why should anyone join you in so assuming if doing so at best just leads to problems that can be otherwise avoided, and at worst involves the kind of incoherence that the blog page I linked to indicates?
    jkg20
    Since the Red we experience with all 3 of these things is the same or at least similar, it is completely sensible to think that there has to be something common in the production of all three. Why would you not first investigate the common properties (Redness)? If investigation shows that there is no connection then that is ok. If you assume different causes at the front end of the study then what do you have to work with? It's the commonness of the Red that gives us something to ponder.
  • MetaphysicsNow
    315
    Since the Red we experience with all 3 of these things is the same or at least similar, it is completely sensible to think that there has to be something common in the production of all three.
    You are kind of missing jkg20's point I think. You seem to imply that in all three cases that there is an instance of redness that we are aware of. That might be the case for (3), but is it for (2) and (1)? What are you going to say to someone like jkg20 who denies (or at least appears to be denying) that any instance of redness is involved in cases of (1) and (2), and that it is only in case (3) that we have a genuine instance of redness, and it is the redness of the snooker ball?
  • Pattern-chaser
    98
    At one and the same time you imply that "something is red" (i.e. the something I might see in the world around me) and on the other that the experience (of seeing something that is red) is red.jkg20

    I'm fairly sure this is not the case. And it's nothing to do with mistaking the label for the thing it describes either. The experience of seeing something red is not itself "red"; I don't think anyone has said or implied this.

    I've been trying to understand this sub-thread by adopting the (scientific) perspective of an objectivist philosopher. [This is new to me, but I'm sure you will correct my misapprehensions, if any.] To a scientist, "red" has only a single, simple, meaning. It refers to light of wavelength around 700 nm. "Red" is a convenient synonym for the (slightly) longer scientific description. So there is no reason not to use it, and every reason to see that "red" demonstrably exists in the Physical Universe. After all, electromagnetic radiation of wavelength around 700 nm does exist there, so red exists out there in the real physical world, and so (by extension) does "colour".

    Furthermore, science places humans in the role of 'impartial observer'. An impartial observer adds nothing to - and subtracts nothing from - their observations; they simply report what they have seen, without bias or interpretation. They report the facts - the empirical data - with nothing added, and nothing taken away. Seen this way, the human experience of redness (seeing something that is red) is not qualitatively different from that of a measuring machine, or a robot. Any 'mystical' aspects of redness simply are not there. ... From the scientific/objective perspective.

    A more broadly-focused perspective sees things differently. "Red" remains a synonym for "electromagnetic radiation of wavelength ~700 nm", but it has other meanings too, as most of our words do. Red means embarrassment or danger, it is an alarm, and it represents anger. It refers to a negative financial balance, and quite a few other things too. When we see something, and recognise it as being red, we draw all of these meanings from our memories. All of the things associated with "red" are drawn into our act of perception, even those that may not be relevant to the particular observation we have made. These are the differences between an impartial observer and an active participant. For the latter, redness (seeing something that is red) is quite different from the experience of the former. It is broader and deeper, and generally more nuanced. There is (even) more to it than I have described, but I have said enough to illustrate my point, I think. :chin:

    According to this more nuanced description of redness, the human experience of seeing something that is red is much more than reporting the observed data. As part of the human perceptual experience, this data is observed, then understood (as best we can), considered, and interpreted, in our uniquely human way. This redness, and the above (multi-faceted) description of "red", do not exist in the Physical Universe. They exist only in the minds of humans.

    It's remarkable how much difference perspective - and context, etc - can make. :wink: :up:
  • SteveKlinko
    185
    ↪SteveKlinko

    Since the Red we experience with all 3 of these things is the same or at least similar, it is completely sensible to think that there has to be something common in the production of all three.
    You are kind of missing jkg20's point I think. You seem to imply that in all three cases that there is an instance of redness that we are aware of. That might be the case for (3), but is it for (2) and (1)? What are you going to say to someone like jkg20 who denies (or at least appears to be denying) that any instance of redness is involved in cases of (1) and (2), and that it is only in case (3) that we have a genuine instance of redness, and it is the redness of the snooker ball?
    MetaphysicsNow
    For me the Redness of the Red is just as Red in 2 and 3. With 1 the sensation of Redness is more vague but the Redness is there nevertheless. It's impossible for me to show anyone else what my own internal Conscious experiences are. If someone truly cannot have a Red Mental Imagery experience then I would have to believe them. But for the purpose of advancing the study we can only assume that our Conscious experiences are more similar than they are different.
  • jkg20
    199
    I've been trying to understand this sub-thread by adopting the (scientific) perspective of an objectivist philosopher.
    That is the source of your confusion I think - the scientific perspective you are trying to adopt is incoherent. It requires on the one hand that red actually be a visible surface property of objects in the world that provide the basis for all empirical evidence (how would a world of colourless objects provide us with any visual evidence for any scientific hypothesis?) and on the other that red is only a feature of electromagnetic radiation (and thus something that is not a visible feature of surfaces of objects).

    The points you make about human beings having a metaphorical use for the word "red" may well be true, but when I make a purely visual observation that a snooker ball is red, I'm not being metaphorical, and I am not talking about the frequency of electromagnetic radiation either.
  • jkg20
    199
    For me the Redness of the Red is just as Red in 2 and 3.
    So now red itself can be red? Can it also be yellow or blue?
  • SteveKlinko
    185
    ↪SteveKlinko

    For me the Redness of the Red is just as Red in 2 and 3.
    So now red itself can be red? Can it also be yellow or blue?
    jkg20

    I use the redundant Redness of the Red to make people stop and think about the sensation or experience of the Red itself for a moment. What is that Redness? Electromagnetic Waves at 680nm do not have the Property of Redness. There is only oscillating Electric and Magnetic fields. When you think about what an Electromagnetic Wave is, it is clear that the Red that we See does not have anything to do with the Wave itself. Do you get the sensation of oscillating Electric and Magnetic fields when you See the Red snooker ball? The Red we See is created in a further processing stage of our Visual system. The Red that we see is a Surrogate for the 680nm Electromagnetic Wave.
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