• Metaphysician Undercover
    5.4k
    Dennett states that prior to evolution, it's a mistake to think of the world as being colored in any way that we experience color. Rather, color evolved as a coevolutionary coding scheme between plants and animals. Flowers guide insects to nectar using a color scheme, just as fruits guide mammals to spreading their seeds. Of course the actual evolutionary account is going to be a lot more complex, but those two examples suffice.Marchesk

    Here's a thought experiment. Imagine the colours of a world which existed without any organic matter. There would be some variance of colour, but the world would be quite bland. "Colour", as we know it in the bright array of flowers and other pigments, is entirely created by biological existence. Colour is not defined by individual segments of a wavelength spectrum, because colour is created by combinations of various different wavelengths.

    The question of whether colour is properly understood as attributed to the perceiving subject, or the perceived object, is really insignificant, because even if colour is properly placed as existing within the object, colour as we know it is created by the biological systems of that object. Inorganic matter, without a living being to separate fundamental elements, and synthesize, is inherently bland and without colour.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.9k
    Dennett states that prior to evolution, it's a mistake to think of the world as being colored in any way that we experience colorMarchesk

    When I read something like that, I don't think, "Okay, let's roll with that then and expect everything else to accomodate it."

    I think, "Hmm . . . it rather seems to me like a mistake to think of that as a mistake." I give the person a chance to make their case, but the vast majority of the time, when people say things like that they fail to make a good case for their claims in my opinion.
  • Marchesk
    2.5k
    I think, "Hmm . . . it rather seems to me like a mistake to think of that as a mistake.Terrapin Station

    You can try and defend color realism - that objects are actually colored like we perceive them to be, but it's a difficult position to maintain. Dennett does go into why that it is. One reason is that the reflective surfaces of objects is not always directly related to the colors we see. Another reason is that organisms with better eyes than us will see different combinations of colors.

    If you consider what the sky would look like on a sunny day if we could see the entire EM spectrum, we know that it certainly wouldn't be blue, given all the other radiation that would need to be colored somehow.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.9k


    That's setting up a false dichotomy (and kind of a comically simplistic/confused one at that).

    The false dichotomy has it that either:

    (a) things are colored as we perceive them to be, in a way that's both qualitatively the same as our perceptions qua our perceptions, including with just the same constraints, AND the same for all observers,

    OR

    (b) prior to evolution, the world isn't colored in any way that we experience color

    That's a false dichotomy, because for one, the world can be colored in a way that we experience color, prior to evolution, where (i) the world isn't qualitatively limited to color as we experience it--there's more to it, even though what we experience of it is there, too, (ii) the way that it's colored isn't identical to a color experience in that it's not itself a color experience--in other words, we're not conflating the experience with what's experienced, but that doesn't imply that we're not directly or accurately experiencing things (it only implies that experiences and non-experiences are not identical), and (iii) in general, as a truism, no phenomenon is identical from every different reference point, or when interacting with different things that limit information in different ways; and nothing is ever "reference-point free." In addition, it's almost never the case that two things are interacting at different reference points where they're not part of some broader system--so for example, observing a colored object where lightwaves are interacting with other substances, including air. Again, this doesn't imply that we do not directly or accurately perceive things. It only implies that we're accurately and directly perceiving complex systems of things, from particular reference points.
  • Marchesk
    2.5k
    Or it might be that the world isn't colored, it only looks that way to creatures with visual systems which use color coding to detect things by how visible light bounces of it.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.9k


    My comment in no way amounted to saying that that was impossible. Possibility isn't sufficient for belief.

    Although now that we mention whether it's impossible, what exactly are we coding if not color in our color-coding?
  • Marchesk
    2.5k
    Although now that we mention whether it's impossible, what exactly are we coding if not color in our color-coding?Terrapin Station

    How photons of a certain wavelength bounce off objects, or are refracted by air, water, glass, etc. It's a good evolutionary strategy to use that to navigate the world of everyday objects.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.9k
    How photons of a certain wavelength bounce off objects,Marchesk

    Well, that's what color is, sure. So how are we coding that if things aren't colored?
  • Marchesk
    2.5k
    Well, that's what color is, sure. So how are we coding that if things aren't colored?Terrapin Station

    Because photons aren't colored. They are packets of energy having frequency and wavelength, carrying the electromagnetic force.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.3k
    Different animals (and even different people) experience that wavelength in different ways. Does it make sense to say that two different organisms are given the same information about the object being looked at despite seeing it to be different colours (e.g. orange for one, red for the other)?

    At best there's indirect knowledge after finding out what kind of wavelength elicits what kind of colour experience in oneself. But prior to any kind of scientific analysis of light and perception, what does me seeing a thing to be green tell me about that thing, other than that it is such that I see it to be green?
    Michael

    It also tells you that the object is not red, or blue, or yellow.

    If I place colored balls before you (two green and one red) your eyes will tell you that the two green balls share a similarity that the red ball does not. If I place three apples before you, you may discern from color which of them are ripe and ready to eat. In these cases we use color as an empirical heuristic for other properties, but it's often quite reliable.
  • Terrapin Station
    7.9k
    Because photons aren't coloredMarchesk

    Individual photons aren't colored, no. Light in wave form is colored. Again, that's what colors are.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.3k
    Individual photons aren't colored, no. Light in wave form is colored. Again, that's what colors are.Terrapin Station

    Strictly speaking, color is abstracted from the force of the crashing of the light wave.

    Color is derived from photonic after-math.
  • Michael
    7.6k
    It also tells you that the object is not red, or blue, or yellow.VagabondSpectre

    Which is just telling you something about how the object doesn't appear to you. But that's not really in question here.

    If I place colored balls before you (two green and one red) your eyes will tell you that the two green balls share a similarity that the red ball does not.

    That doesn't really tell you much about the external world. If I were to tell you that I'm holding two of the same thing in my hands I hardly think that counts properly as conveying information to you about what's in my hands.

    If I place three apples before you, you may discern from color which of them are ripe and ready to eat. In these cases we use color as an empirical heuristic for other properties, but it's often quite reliable.VagabondSpectre

    Wouldn't that count as indirect perception? The apple appears green and I have learnt that apples which appear green are ripe and so "see" that an apple is ripe if it appears green.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.3k
    It also tells you that the object is not red, or blue, or yellow. — VagabondSpectre

    Which is just telling you something about how the object doesn't appear to you. But that's not really in question here.
    Michael

    It tells you something about how it relates, or doesn't relate (separation/difference), to other objects, and if the colors change, that tells you something about a change in the object (or the light striking it).

    What exactly color differences and color changes tell us about objects is mostly fallible association, but evidently it has been useful.

    That doesn't really tell you much about the external world. If I were to tell you that I'm holding two of the same thing in my hands, I hardly think that counts properly as conveying information to you about what's in my hand.Michael

    Imagine that nobody could perceive color, or only one color if that makes it easier, and could instead only differentiate light data on a scale of luminosity/brightness...

    We would no longer be given access to as much information about material, chemical, and structural differences when we compare and contrast objects (only an objects tendency to absorb or reflect light would determine it's hue). In short we lose a powerful tool of discrimination.

    Color differences are inexorably based on tangible differences between external objects, and while we abstract and run wild with fallible presumptions about the meaning of color, there is still some small amount of real information retained in our color coding of light data.

    In the world without color, you could tell me the luminosity of the objects in your hand, and this could convey some information pertaining to the emmisivity of the objects (i.e: they're "bright"). In the world of color, you can tell me that they are "green" or "red" in addition to whether or not they are bright. The more of our abstract interpretations of sensory input that you convey to me (shape, weight, thermal behavior, smell, taste, noise, observable behavior) the more information I have about what is in your hand.

    By telling me that the two objects in your hand are the same sort of thing, you have indeed given me information about the objects in your hand. If you can hypothetically be holding two of anything, the total number of combinations of things you could be holding would be the total number of possible things squared. By telling me that they are the same thing, you have effectively removed the squared function and reduced the number of options I can choose from.

    In more or less the same way, when you tell me that the single object in your hand is green, you've given me information about what it is if only by narrowing down what it isn't.
  • VagabondSpectre
    1.3k
    Wouldn't that count as indirect perception? The apple appears green and I have learnt that apples which appear green are ripe and so "see" that an apple is ripe if it appears green.Michael

    There may only be correlation between the color of apples and their ripeness, but so long as there is consistency, there will be utility. That we consistently perceive color differences, and that these color differences consistently reflect evolutionarily pertinent facts, is what has mattered.

    Color is not first hand information (nothing we have access to is), though it strongly appears to be derived from it.
  • Forgottenticket
    132
    As for how we turn colors into shapes and what not, that would probably involve different brain regions dedicated to the task.Marchesk

    Sure, and binded together as a single phenomenon we can discuss physically on message boards ect.

    and once one got focus, the contents of that "agent" would be phenomenal, to paraphrase his argument. But why getting focus would led to a phenomenal experience still seems unexplained.Marchesk

    Yes I'm familiar with his multiple drafts model. So a particular slice of information becomes "famous" in the brain and so all the other brain compartments for a brief time bend around that so that the next slice will be consistent to the prior one in some way, which is claimed to be like a parallel processing computer.
    So the brain is built up out of neurons and synpases and is interacting with some emergent noise that appears "phenomenal" (the hard problem, the binding problem et al) which is seemingly bending the organ to its will and the organ to its, like classic mind-body interaction.
    I wonder how many times the thought "dualism may be correct" crosses his mind but then he had to create a new draft (pun unintended) with different wording.
  • Marchesk
    2.5k
    Just found this response to Dennett and others of similar persuasion:

    https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/03/13/the-consciousness-deniers/

    I guess it's supposed to complement Stove's Worst Argument in the World with the Silliest Claim Ever Made, although Stove's argument isn't mentioned.
  • Walter Pound
    199
    is dennett a nominalist in regards to the self?

    I think that however one views the self- as a real thing or not- will determine how they explain the experiences of color or whatever else.
  • Marchesk
    2.5k
    I think that however one views the self- as a real thing or not- will determine how they explain the experiences of color or whatever else.Walter Pound

    I think Dennett would call himself a pseudo-realist about the self. It depends on what kind of stance you're taking, which means what sort of explanation you're using at that moment.
  • Walter Pound
    199



    Suppose that the experience of color was the result of an evolutionary adaption and that color was not a feature of the universe, the person who is dissatisfied with physicalism would suggest that any kind of subjective experience is incompatible with physicalism- that physicalism can't explain these experiences- and that the origins of color are not really the point.

    The "hard problem" of consciousness really revolves around what the nature of consciousness is and if physicalism is undermined by it.
  • Marchesk
    2.5k
    The "hard problem" of consciousness really revolves around what the nature of consciousness is and if physicalism is undermined by it.Walter Pound

    Yeah, although Galen Strawson in the link I posted above makes an interesting claim about physicalism (distinguishing it from the science of physics) that permits consciousness.
  • Marchesk
    2.5k
    Oh, i see. That makes sense. I'm not willing to go there.
  • Walter Pound
    199


    Does an immaterial mind make the hard problem of consciousness any easier?

    It seems like it has its own difficulties. Consider that when you walk from place to place, and that there is an immaterial mind and a material world, you experience a change in location, but an immaterial mind is immaterial and should not be able to change from location to location so it seems that an immaterial mind can't explain our commonplace experiences of moving from place to place. Assuming that the mind is immaterial, if you asked, "where is my mind" then you should be guilty of making a category error, but clearly we experience the feeling of moving from one location to another.
  • Marchesk
    2.5k
    I don't think the mind is a thing. It's the result of brain activity in addition to the context of an animal or human in their environment. So for us that means social, cultural and linguistic contexts in addition to our brain activity.
  • Walter Pound
    199

    I don't think the mind is a thing.
    I see.
    It's the result of brain activity in addition to the context of an animal or human in their environment
    So what theory of the mind do you subscribe to?
  • Marchesk
    2.5k
    So what theory of the mind do you subscribe to?Walter Pound

    I don't have one. You?
  • Forgottenticket
    132
    Just found this response to Dennett and others of similar persuasion:Marchesk

    @Wayfarer made a thread about this.
    https://thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/3174/critical-review-of-consciousness-denialism-by-galen-strawson/p1
    Dennett gave an official response here: https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2018/04/03/magic-illusions-and-zombies-an-exchange/ Which I posted pn page 5 of the thread (also discussed).
  • Marchesk
    2.5k
    Thanks for that. Dennett's response is typical Dennett:

    I would never have dared put Strawson’s words in the mouth of Otto (the fictional critic I invented as a sort of ombudsman for the skeptical reader of Consciousness Explained) for fear of being scolded for creating a strawman. A full-throated, table-thumping Strawson serves me much better. He clearly believes what he says, thinks it is very important, and is spectacularly wrong in useful ways. His most obvious mistake is his misrepresentation of my main claim:
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