Probably colour is the best worked-out example of allegedly neurophysiologically innate response categories determining percepts and percepts determining concepts, and hence biology fixing the basic categories implicit in the use of language. In this paper I argue against this view and I take C. L. Hardin's Color for Philosophers  as my main target. I start by undermining the view that four unique hues stand apart from all other colour shades (Section 2) and the confidence that the solar spectrum is (...) naturally divided into four categories (Section 3). For such categories to be truly universal, they have to be true for all peoples and in Section 4 I show that Berlin and Kay's  widely quoted theory of basic colour categories is not sufficiently supported to lend it any credibility. Having disposed of the view that inspection of language or ?pure? perception unveils the universal colour categories. I turn to neurophysiological and psychophysical theories of colour vision to see whether they provide a more solid basis for deciding what the innate response categories are. In Section 5 I show that Hardin's account of the opponent-process theory neither supports his view that ?colour-coding?takes place early in the visual neural pathway, nor his view that knowledge of colour vision science will help us solve many philosophical mysteries about colour. In Section 6 I give a more detailed review of what is known today about the neurophysiology of colour vision and I show that there's nothing in the brain which could be called a colour module, let alone a module with homunculi for particular basic colour categories. In Section 7 I show that psychophysical models do not support such rigid constraints on category formation either. Hence (Section 8), at least in the case of colour, current science supports a plasticity in the formation of categories that goes far beyond the requirements of those naturalistic philosophers who would like to ground primitive concepts in biology. (shrink)
Sections R1 to R3 attempt to take the sting out of hostile commentaries. Sections R4 to R5 engage Berlin and Kay and the World Color Survey to correct the record. Section R6 begins the formulation of a new theory of colour as an engineering project with a technological developmental trajectory. It is recommended that the colour space be abandoned.
In this target article the following hypotheses are discussed: (1) Colour is autonomous: a perceptuolinguistic and behavioural universal. (2) It is completely described by three independent attributes: hue, brightness, and saturation: (3) Phenomenologically and psychophysically there are four unique hues: red, green, blue, and yellow; (4) The unique hues are underpinned by two opponent psychophysical and/or neuronal channels: red/green, blue/yellow. The relevant literature is reviewed. We conclude: (i) Psychophysics and neurophysiology fail to set nontrivial constraints on colour categorization. (ii) Linguistic (...) evidence provides no grounds for the universality of basic colour categories. (iii) Neither the opponent hues red/green, blue/yellow nor hue, brightness, and saturation are intrinsic to a universal concept of colour. (iv) Colour is not autonomous. (shrink)
In this paper we extend Wittgenstein’s notion of family resemblance to translation, interpretation, and comparison across traditions. There is no need for universals. This holds for everyday concepts such as green and qing 青, philosophical concepts such as emotion and qing 情, as well as philosophical categories such as form of life and dao 道. These notions as well as all other concepts from whatever tradition are family resemblance concepts. We introduce the notion of quasi-universal, which connects family resemblance concepts (...) from a limited number of traditions. The possibility and necessity of extending family resemblance concepts across traditions dissolves the false antinomy of universalism versus relativism. (shrink)
The primary purpose here is to ascertain what Heidegger's comportment toward East-West dialogue is most plausibly like in the light of his philosophical concerns and orientations. Considering that one should not uncritically take at face value occasional remarks by Heidegger that seem to suggest that he is preparing an East-West dialogue, we will proceed from Heidegger's own path of thinking and bring to light fundamental presuppositions in his thought and the response he may accordingly give to the issue of East-West (...) dialogue. (shrink)
In this paper I try to make as much sense aspossible of, first, the extensive philosophicalliterature concerned with the status of `Wateris H2O' and, second, the implications ofPutnam's invention of Twin Earth, anotherpossible world stipulated to be just like Earth, except that water is XYZ, notH2O.
In this essay, we present a theory of intercultural philosophical dialogue and comparative philosophy, drawing on both hermeneutics and analytic philosophy. We advocate the approach of “de-essentialization” across the board. It is true that similarities and differences are always to be observed across languages and traditions, but there exist no immutable cores or essences. “De-essentialization” applies to all “levels” of concepts: everyday notions such as green and qing 青, philosophical concepts such as emotion(s) and qing 情, and philosophical categories such (...) as forms of life and dao 道. We argue that interpretation is a holistic multi-directional process constrained by the principle of mutual attunement. It is necessary to assume that “the other” is a human being, who, in most cases, is consistent and stating that which is true or right. This is the condition of possibility for intercultural philosophical dialogue and comparative philosophy. No more necessary conditions are needed. There is no need to presuppose concepts or categories that are universal for all humans and their languages (such as emotion(s) and qing 情). (shrink)
Using the notorious bridge law “water is H 2 O” and the relation between molecular structure and quantum mechanics as examples, I argue that it doesn’t make sense to aim for specific definition(s) of intertheoretical or interdiscourse relation(s) between chemistry and physics (reduction, supervenience, what have you). Proposed definitions of interdiscourse and part-whole relations are interesting only if they provide insight in the variegated interconnected patchwork of theories and beliefs. There is “automatically” some sort of interdiscourse relation if different discourses (...) claim to have something to say about the same situation (event, system), which is the basis of (contingent) local supervenience relations, which, proper empirically support being provided, can be upgraded to ceteris paribus bridge laws. Because of the ceteris paribus feature, and the discourse dependence of event identification, there is at best only global supervenience of the “special sciences” on the physical (and of parts of physics on other parts of physics). (shrink)
In this paper I present a historiography of the recent emergence of philosophy of chemistry. Special attention is given to the interest in this domain in Eastern Europe before the collapse of the USSR. It is shown that the initial neglect of the philosophy of chemistry is due to the unanimous view in philosophy and philosophy of science that only physics is a proper science (to put in Kant's words). More recently, due to the common though incorrect assumption that chemistry (...) can in principle be reduced to physics, the neglect continued, even when interest in sciences such as biology and psychology entered more strongly in philosophy of science. It is concluded that chemistry is an autonomous science and is perhaps a more typical science than physics. (shrink)
The book is an “introductory” reconstruction of Davidson on interpretation —a claim to be taken with a grain of salt. Writing introductory books has become an idol of the tribe. This is a concise book and reflects much study. It has many virtues along with some flaws. Ramberg assembles themes and puzzles from Davidson into a more or less coherent viewpoint. A special virtue is the innovative treatment of incommensurability and of the relation of Davidson’s work to hermeneutic themes. The (...) weakness comes in a certain unevenness. While generally convincing and well written, the book has low points which may leave the reader confused or unconvinced. Davidson is the hero in this book, and our hero is sometimes over idealized. (shrink)
Modern technology (Technik, la technique) has constituted the gears on which the wheels of the modern world keep turning. The later Heidegger devotes sustained reflection to this unprecedented phenomenon in human history. It is notable that, compared with other figures from twentieth-century continental philosophy, Heidegger has served as the most frequent reference point in current philosophy of technology (Technikphilosophie). This field of philosophy came into being after the so-called empirical turn of “Science and Technology Studies.” While relevant scholars focus mainly (...) on “Die Frage nach der Technik” of 1953, “Das Ge-stell” of 1949,1 and some other texts written in that period,2 the time span of Heidegger’s .. (shrink)
Recent discussions about the anthropic principle and the argument from design can perhaps be summarized as follows : The world is very unusual, so it must have been made by an intelligent creator. The world is very unusual, but unusual things do occur by chance. Both and , in their ordinary interpretations, have been labelled probabilistic fallacies. In my paper I will discuss in particular the following two aspects: The contemporary relevance of Cicero's discussions on chance. The fact that any (...) talk of chance events is only possible subject to the more encompassing idea of "limited belief in chance". (shrink)
According to Putnam the reference of natural kind terms is fixed by the world, at least partly; whether two things belong to the same kind depends on whether they obey the same objective laws. We show that Putnam's criterion of substance identity only "works" if we read "objective laws" as "OBJECTIVE LAWS". Moreover, at least some of the laws of some of the special sciences have to be included. But what we consider to be good special sciences and what not (...) depends upon our values. Hence, "objective laws" cannot be read as "OBJECTIVE LAWS". It follows that the reference of natural kind terms cannot be fixed by the world, not even partly. The final conclusion applies to a variety of realisms. (shrink)
Why should interpretation of conceptual schemes and practices across traditions work at all? In this paper we present the following necessary conditions of possibility for interpretation in comparative and Chinese philosophy: the interpreter must presuppose that there are mutually recognizable human practices; the interpreter must presuppose that “the other” is, on the whole, sincere, consistent, and right; the interpreter must be committed to certain epistemic virtues. Some of these necessary conditions are consistent with the fact that interpretation is not thwarted (...) by the “danger” of relativism or of incommensurability. Some other conditions are suggestive of reorientations of methodologies of comparative and Chinese philosophy. (shrink)
In this article, we trace and elucidate Heidegger’s radical re-thinking on the relation between science and technology from about 1940 until 1976. A range of passages from the Gesamtausgabe seem to articulate a reversal of the primacy of science and technology in claiming that “Science is applied technology.” After delving into Heidegger’s reflection on the being of science and technology and their “coordination,” we show that such a claim is essentially grounded in Heidegger’s idea that “Science and technology are the (...) Same [das Selbe].” In addition, we argue that, although different ontic epochs can be distinguished in the evolvement of science and/or technology, for Heidegger there is only one unique ontological Epoch of modernity that encompasses various ontic epochs. Therefore, the change from an “epoch of objectivity” to an “epoch of orderability [Bestellbarkeit]” cannot be considered to be an ontological shift. Furthermore, it is not right to ascribe to Heidegger the view that the development of quantum physics signals the beginning of a new ontological Epoch. (shrink)
Kripke has argued that definitions of units of measurements provide examples of statements that are both contingent and a priori. In this paper I argue that definitions of units of measurement are intended to be stipulations of what Kripke calls "theoretical identities": a stipulation that two terms will have the same rigid designation. Hence such a definition is both a priori and necessary. The necessity arises because such definitions appeal to natural kind properties only, which on Kripke's account are necessary.
In a rarely quoted paper, published in 1958 in the American Journal of Physics, T. Ehrenfest-Afanassjewa introduced the idea that the concept of chance as employed in physics is subject to what she called a ‘Limited Belief in Chance’. In this paper I elaborate the latter concept and the distinction between absolute chance and relative randomness, where the latter, but not the former, is governed by the theory of probability. I argue that in the twentieth century virtually nobody believes seriously (...) in the possiblity of absolute chance, whereas the concept of chance in the Scientific World Picture is only ‘chancy’ relative to a limited belief in chance grounded in the Manifest World Picture of an orderly world. (shrink)
Amidst the progress being made in the various (sub-)disciplines of the behavioural and brain sciences a somewhat neglected subject is the problem of how everything fits into one world and, derivatively, how the relation between different levels of discourse should be understood and to what extent different levels, domains, approaches, or disciplines are autonomous or dependent. In this paper I critically review the most recent proposals to specify the nature of interdiscourse relations, focusing on the concept of supervenience. Ideally supervenience (...) is a relation between different discourses which has all the advantages of reduction, but without its disadvantages. I apply the more abstract considerations to two concrete cases: schizophrenia and colour. Usually an interlevel or interdiscourse relation is seen as asymmetrical: the overlaying discourse depends on the underlying discourse (and not vice versa), where the out- or un-spoken assumption is that the ultimate underlying discourse is physical. Instead I argue that scientific categories referred to in interdiscourse relations are, ultimately, dependent on common sense categories and common sense normative criteria. It is the manifest categories and common sense ideas about what is reasonable and what is right that determine the relevant categorisations at the deeper, underlying levels. I suggest that the implications of this are not merely methodological or epistemological. (shrink)
In this article, I look at those passages in the Zhuangzi usually associated with “uselessness.” I discuss in what way these passages may have been suggestive to Martin Heidegger to explain his ideas of the necessity of the other thinking and of the “waiting people” being entirely unusable to others. Then I make some brief comments concerning basic conditions of interpretation, using examples taken from the Zhuangzi passages discussed. These conditions include family resemblance across the board, a principle of agreement, (...) and the issue of “planetarization”. (shrink)
While in the research area known,as ’philosophy of science' there is a growing interest in separate disciplines of the empirical sciences, applied sciences and even technologies, one can find hardly any reference to the discipline of chemistry other than some preliminary discussions of chemical concepts or studies concerning the rational reconstruction of the history of chemistry. No analyses, which might be called 'philosophy of chemistry’ can be found to date. It is hoped that this review paper on what has been (...) published on the philosophy of chemistry will show that chemistry is a philosophically rich field. After an introduction, in section 2, a more detailed classification is given of the various areas from which a interest in the philosophy of chemistry has emerged.In section 3 there is a review of the opinions on the subject matter of chemistry, be it straightforward definition or indications of the relation to other natural sciences, in particular physics. In section 4 publications on the philosophy of chemistry are reviewed which fit the conventional format of the philosophy of science. In section 5 some of the literature on the concept of chemical species is reviewed. In section 6 and 7 a review of the literature on the concepts of chemical structure and chemical reactions is presented. (shrink)
In this paper I evaluate the soundness of the prototype paradigm, in particular its basic assumption that there are pan-human psychological essences or core meanings that refer to basic-level natural kinds, explaining why, on the whole, human communication and learning are successful. Instead I argue that there are no particular pan-human basic elements for thought, meaning and cognition, neither prototypes, nor otherwise. To illuminate my view I draw on examples from anthropology. More generally I argue that the prototype paradigm exemplifies (...) two assumptions that dominate cognitive science: (1) If human beings use words they mean something particular and what they mean can be discovered by scientific methods. (2) There is a fixed number of domains of categorization, each made up of a fixed number of basic categories. I suggest that these two assumptions lead to Brave New World. (shrink)
: According to a consensus of psycho-physiological and philosophical theories, color sensations (or qualia) are generated in a cerebral "space" fed from photon-photoreceptor interaction (producing "metamers") in the retina of the eye. The resulting "space" has three dimensions: hue (or chroma), saturation (or "purity"), and brightness (lightness, value or intensity) and (in some versions) is further structured by primitive or landmark "colors"—usually four, or six (when white and black are added to red, yellow, green and blue). It has also been (...) proposed that there are eleven semantic universals—labeling the previous six plus the "intermediaries" of orange, pink, brown, purple, and gray. There are many versions of this consensus, but they all aim to provide ontological, epistemological and semantic blueprints for the brute fact of the reality of color ordained by Nature (evolution). In contrast to this consensus, we have argued that "seeing color" is not a matter of light waves impacting on our eyes, producing sensations to be categorized and labeled in the "color space" in the brain. While electrochemical events may unproblematically be regarded as the causal precondition for seeing color, the reception of sensations in "the color space" as semantically labeled natural categories, kinds, or information, is a "just so" story: it is Wittgenstein's beetle in a box. In contrast we consider that the authority of this consensus might better be regarded not as the result of the truth-tracking of nature, but as the sociohistorical outcome of philosophical presuppositions, scientific theories, experimental practices, technological apparatus, and their feed forward into the lifeworld. The question we shall therefore explore is whether, or to what extent, we ourselves are changed, as the conditions of production of color science change. Thus we are doing a kind of anthropology at two levels: of color science itself (and its effect on our own lifeworld), and of those studied by the "anthropology of color". As befits this stance we are agnostic about the theoretical entities of color science (cf. van Fraassen 2001), and within this new context, we propose to cross-cut object-and-subject, organism-and-environment (the bedrock of color science) in socio-historical ways. Our approach is in part inspired by, but not the same as, that of Gibson, in that we wish to pursue the notion of "social affordances" (Burmudez 1995). We suggest that color has become a naturalization through science-based technologies, which, through praxes and materializations, have become the perceptual and cultural entities that structure experience and understanding in the lifeworld. It is this naturalization that we shall refer to and characterize as "the historically inflected exosomatic organ". Consequently we shall explore the historical ontology of "color" without assuming an underlying biological constant (Dupré 2001). In part 1 we show the flimsiness of the evidence for the three dimensions of color, borrowed from physics, and fine-tuned to a "standard observer" (a "spectral creature" with a phenomenal "color space"). In part 2 we address the structuring of hue through the development of color circles and color spaces. This is followed by a review of the evidence for unique hues. Again the evidence is shown to be flimsy. We then show that an isolated domain of color is a particular kind of model, not a "natural given". In part 3, after reviewing what is referred to as "the isomorphy thesis," we discuss the exemplary case study of Berlin and Kay (1969). This illustrates the pull of stadial models presupposed by their evolutionary theory of color language. The Berlin and Kay paradigm proposes that American English color terms are incorrigible and can provide the universal metalanguage. We conclude by presenting an alternative account, namely that we ourselves are changed as the conditions of production of color science change. We argue that it is better to regard "seeing-color" as a historically inflected exosomatic organ that provides social affordances for those trained to grasp them. (shrink)
Reflectance physicalism only provides a partial picture of the ontology of color. Byrne & Hilbert’ account is unsatisfactory because the replacement of reflectance functions by productance functions is ad hoc, unclear, and only leads to new problems. Furthermore, the effects of color contrast and differences in illumination are not really taken seriously: Too many “real” colors are tacitly dismissed as illusory, and this for arbitrary reasons. We claim that there cannot be an all-embracing ontology for color.