The complexity of quality

Philosophy 59 (230):457-71 (1984)

Authors
Jonathan Westphal
Hampshire College
Abstract
Many philosophers have believed that colours and the other qualia ofexperience are simples and that colour terms are unanalysable. Colour termsare unanalysable because colours are simples, colours are known to be simple because colour terms are unanalysable. I shall try to show that things are not as simple as this. Nothing in the paper will depend on the general Wittgensteinian thesis of the relativity of simplicity. The thought I shallpursue is the more specific one that the philosophers who have believed in the simplicity of colours have been the victims of certain false images of what the relevant kind of simplicity is like, and that when these images are destroyed the belief is clearly false. Most importantly they have confused logical simplicity with visual uniformity, the kind of simplicity which could intelligibly be attributed to coloured patches or expanses of colour andthe kind of simplicity which can be attributed to colours. So the paper is concerned with the destruction of spatial and material images which distort our understanding of concepts which are neither spatial nor material ones.The wider epistemological implications of the non-existence of simple ideas of colours will not be discussed
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DOI 10.1017/s0031819100067905
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References found in this work BETA

A Treatise of Human Nature.David Hume & A. D. Lindsay - 1958 - Philosophical Quarterly 8 (33):379-380.
Mental Acts.P. T. Geach - 1957 - Philosophical Quarterly 9 (36):278-279.

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Citations of this work BETA

Cortical Feedback and the Ineffability of Colors.Mark F. Sharlow - 2005 - PSYCHE: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Research On Consciousness 11.

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