Colour fascinates all of us, and scientists and philosophers have sought to understand the true nature of colour vision for many years. In recent times, investigations into colour vision have been one of the main success stories of cognitive science, for each discipline within the field - neuroscience, psychology, linguistics, computer science and artificial intelligence, and philosophy - has contributed significantly to our understanding of colour. Evan Thompson's book is a major contribution to this interdisciplinary project. Colour Vision provides an (...) accessible review of the current scientific and philosophical discussions of colour vision. Thompson steers a course between the subjective and objective positions on colour, arguing for a relational account. This account develops a novel `ecological' approach to colour vision in cognitive science and the philosophy of perception. It is vital reading for all cognitive scientists and philosophers whose interests touch upon this central area. (shrink)
Should a principle of charity be applied to the interpretation of the colour concepts exercised in visual experience? We think not. We shall argue, for one thing, that the grounds for applying a principle of charity are lacking in the case of colour concepts. More importantly, we shall argue that attempts at giving the experience of colour a charitable interpretation either fail to respect obvious features of that experience or fail to interpret it charitably, after all. Charity to visual experience (...) is therefore no motive for resisting the natural, Galilean response to a scientific understanding of light and vision. The best interpretation of colour experience ends up convicting it of widespread and systematic error. (shrink)
Colour has often been supposed to be a subjective property, a property to be analysed orretly in terms of the phenomenological aspects of human expereince. In contrast with subjectivism, an objectivist analysis of color takes color to be a property objects possess in themselves, independently of the character of human perceptual expereince. David Hilbert defends a form of objectivism that identifies color with a physical property of surfaces - their spectral reflectance. This analysis of color is (...) shown to provide a more adequate account of the features of human color vision than its subjectivist rivals. The author's account of colro also recognises that the human perceptual system provides a limited and idiosyncratic picture of the world. These limitations are shown to be consistent with a realist account of colour and to provide the necessary tools for giving an analysis of common sense knowledge of color phenomena. (shrink)
The target article is an attempt to make some progress on the problem of color realism. Are objects colored? And what is the nature of the color properties? We defend the view that physical objects (for instance, tomatoes, radishes, and rubies) are colored, and that colors are physical properties, specifically types of reflectance. This is probably a minority opinion, at least among color scientists. Textbooks frequently claim that physical objects are not colored, and that the colors are (...) "subjective" or "in the mind." The article has two other purposes: first, to introduce an interdisciplinary audience to some distinctively philosophical tools that are useful in tackling the problem of color realism and, second, to clarify the various positions and central arguments in the debate. (shrink)
The relations among consciousness, brain, behavior, and scientific explanation are explored in the domain of color perception. Current scientific knowledge about color similarity, color composition, dimensional structure, unique colors, and color categories is used to assess Locke.
b>. Computational models of colour vision assume that the biological function of colour vision is to detect surface reflectance. Some philosophers invoke these models as a basis for 'externalism' about perceptual content (content is distal) and 'objectivism' about colour (colour is surface reflectance). In an earlier article (Thompson et al. 1992), I criticized the 'computational objectivist' position on the basis of comparative colour vision: There are fundmental differences among the colour vision of animals and these differences do not converge on (...) the detection of any single type of environmental property. David R. Hilbert (1992) has recently defended computational objectivism against my 'comparative argument;' his arguments are based on the externalist approach to perceptual content originally developed by Mohan Matthen (1988) and on the computationally inspired theory of the evolutionary basis for trichromacy developed by Roger N. Shepard (1990). The present article provides a reply to Hilbert with extensive criticism of both Matthen's and Shepard's theories. I argue that the biological function of colour vision is not to detect surface reflectance, but to provide a set of perceptual categories that can apply to objects in a stable way in a variety of conditions. Comparative research indicates that both the perceptual categories and the distal stimuli will differ according to the animal and its visual ecology; therefore externalism and objectivism must be rejected. (shrink)
C. L. Hardin has argued that the colour opponency of the vision system leads to chromatic subjectivism: chromatic sensory states reduce to neurophysiological states. Much of the force of Hardin's argument derives from a critique of chromatic objectivism. On this view chromatic sensory states are held to reduce to an external property. While I agree with Hardin's critique of objectivism it is far from clear that the problems which beset objectivism do not apply to the subjectivist position as well. I (...) develop a critique of subjectivism that parallels Hardin's anti-objectivist argument. (shrink)
As standardly conceived, an illusion is an experience of an object o appearing F where o is not in fact F. Paradigm examples of color illusion, however, do not fit this pattern. A diagnosis of this uncovers different sense of appearance talk that is the basis of a dilemma for the standard conception. The dilemma is only a challenge. But if the challenge cannot be met, then any conception of experience, such as representationalism, that is committed to the standard (...) conception is false. Perhaps surprisingly, naïve realism provides a better account of color illusion.An apparence ymaad by som Magyk. Chaucer. (shrink)
The work reported in this monograph was begun in the winter of 1967 in a graduate seminar at Berkeley. Many of the basic data were gathered by members of the seminar and the theoretical framework presented here was initially developed in the context of the seminar discussions. Much has been discovered since1969, the date of original publication, regarding the psychophysical and neurophysical determinants of universal, cross-linguistic constraints on the shape of basic color lexicons, and something, albeit less, can now (...) also be said with some confidence regarding the constraining effects of these language-independent processes of color perception and conceptualization on the direction of evolution of basic color term lexicons. (shrink)
The orthodox monadic determination thesis holds that we represent colour relations by virtue of representing colours. Against this orthodoxy, I argue that it is possible to represent colour relations without representing any colours. I present a model of iconic perceptual content that allows for such primitive relational colour representation, and provide four empirical arguments in its support. I close by surveying alternative views of the relationship between monadic and relational colour representation.
I address the question of whether differences in color terminology cause differences in color experience in speakers of different languages. If linguistic representations directly affect color experience, then this is a case of what I call the linguistic penetrability of perception, which is a particular case of cognitive penetrability. I start with some general considerations about cognitive penetration and its alleged occurrence in the memory color effect. I then apply similar considerations to the interpretation of empirical (...) studies of color perception in speakers of different languages. I argue that findings such as differences in categorical perception in speakers of different languages do not show that language affects color experience. They therefore do not support the claim that color experience is linguistically penetrable. But even if we grant that color experience is different in speakers of different languages, I argue that this might still not be a case of linguistic penetration. Finally, I consider some epistemological consequences of the assumption that speakers of different languages have different color experiences. (shrink)
Colour constancy is a foundational and yet puzzling phenomenon. Standard appearance invariantism is threatened by the psychophysical matching argument, which is taken to favour variantism. This argument, however, is inconclusive. The data at best support a pluralist view: colour constancy is sometimes variantist, sometimes invariantist. I add another potential explanation of these data, complex invariantism, which adopts an atypical six-dimensional model of colour appearance. Finally I prospect for a unifying conception of constancy among two neglected notions: discriminatory colour constancy and (...) relational colour constancy. The former arguably marks a common core capacity that is present across widely differing viewing contexts. (shrink)
In 1995, in my book, Ten Problems of Consciousness, I proposed a version of the theory of phenomenal consciousness now known as representationalism. The present book, in part, consists of a further development of that theory along with replies to common objections. It is also concerned with two prominent challenges for any reductive theory of consciousness: the explanatory gap and the knowledge argument. In addition, it connects representationalism with two more general issues: the nature of color and the location (...) of the phylogenetic dividing line between those creatures that are phenomenally conscious and those that are not. (shrink)
In his 1995 book Colour vision (New York: Routledge), Evan Thompson proposes a new approach to the ontology of color according to which it is tied to the ecological dispositions-affordances described by J.J. Gibson and his followers. Thompson claims that a relational account of color is necessary in order to avoid the problems that go along with the dispute between subjectivists and objectivists about color, but he claims that the received view of perception does not allow a (...) satisfactory relational account of color. Hence to avoid the problems of the subjectivist/objectivist dispute one must abandon the received view of perception. I describe an account which is similar to Thompson's, but which invokes instead the physical dispositional properties described by the received view. All of the distinguishing characteristics that Thompson claims separate his ecological dispositions from physical dispositions are in fact found in the physical dispositions appealed to by my proposed theory. Because my proposed theory is similar to subjectivism, Thompson's departure from the received view is not as radical as he claims. In a final section I describe the a posteriori manner in which a substantive departure from the received view must be carried out by describing an example of ecological experimentation. (shrink)
Consider the distinctive qualitative property grass visually appears to have when it visually appears to be green. This property is an example of what I call sensuous color. Whereas early modern mechanists typically argue that bodies are not sensuously colored, Margaret Cavendish (1623–73) disagrees. In cases of veridical perception, she holds that grass is green in precisely the way it visually appears to be. In defense of her realist approach to sensuous colors, Cavendish argues that (i) it is impossible (...) to conceive of colorless bodies, (ii) the very possibility of color experience requires that bodies are sensuously colored, and (iii) the attribution of sensuous colors to bodies provides the best explanation of color constancy. Although some passages might suggest that Cavendish endorses a reductive account of sensuous color, according to which sensuous color reduces to a body's microscopic surface texture (or some other mechanistically respectable property), I argue that she accepts a nonreductive account, on which sensuous color is not thus reducible. (shrink)
Representationalism, the view that phenomenal character supervenes on intentional content, has attracted a wide following in recent years. Most representationalists have also endorsed what I call 'standard Russellianism'. According to standard Russellianism, phenomenal content is Russellian in nature, and the properties represented by perceptual experiences are mind-independent physical properties. I argue that standard Russellianism conflicts with the everyday experience of colour constancy. Due to colour constancy, standard Russellianism is unable to simultaneously give a proper account of the phenomenal content of (...) colour experience and do justice to its phenomenology. (shrink)
Colours appear to instantiate a number of structural properties: for instance, they stand in distinctive relations of similarity and difference, and admit of a fundamental distinction into unique and binary. Accounting for these structural properties is often taken to present a serious problem for physicalist theories of colour. This paper argues that a prominent attempt by Byrne and Hilbert to account for the structural properties of the colours, consistent with the claim that colours are types of surface spectral reflectance, is (...) unsuccessful. Instead, it is suggested that a better account of the structural properties of the colours is provided by a form of non-reductive physicalism about colour: a naïve realist theory of colour, according to which colours are superficial mind-independent properties. (shrink)
There is nothing in this World constant but Inconstancy. [Swift 1711: 258] In this paper I argue that two standard characterizations of colour constancy are inadequate to the phenomenon. This inadequacy matters, since, I contend, philosophical appeals to colour constancy as a way of motivating illumination-independent conceptions of colour turn crucially on the shortcomings of these characterizations. After critically reviewing the standard characterizations, I provide a novel counterfactualist understanding of colour constancy, argue that it avoids difficulties of its traditional rivals, (...) and defend it from objections. Finally, I show why, on this improved understanding, colour constancy does not have the philosophical consequences that have been claimed for it in the literature. (shrink)
Susan Hurley has attacked the ''Duplication Assumption'', the assumption thatcreatures with exactly the same internal states could function exactly alike inenvironments that are systematically distorted. She argues that the dynamicalinterdependence of action and perception is highly problematic for the DuplicationAssumption when it involves spatial states and capacities, whereas no such problemsarise when it involves color states and capacities. I will try to establish that theDuplication Assumption makes even less sense for lightness than for some ofthe spatial cases. This is (...) due not only to motor factors, but to the basic physicalasymmetry between black and white. I then argue that the case can be extendedfrom lightness perception to hue perception. Overall, the aims of this paper are:(1) to extend Susan Hurley''s critique of the Duplication Assumption; (2) to argueagainst highly constrained versions of Inverted Spectrum arguments; (3) to proposea broader conception of the vehicle for color perception. (shrink)
Colour vision plays a foundational explanatory role in the philosophy of colour, and serves as perennial quarry in the wider philosophy of perception. I present two contributions to our understanding of this notion. The first is to develop a constitutive approach to characterizing colour vision. This approach seeks to comprehend the nature of colour vision qua psychological kind, as contrasted with traditional experiential approaches, which prioritize descriptions of our ordinary visual experience of colour. The second contribution is to argue that (...) colour vision does not constitutively involve the ability to see colours, in a natural and categorically committed sense. I argue that two subjects exactly alike in respect of their constitutive colour vision abilities could differ in respect of whether or not they have categorical perception of colour. The argument is supported by thought experiment and dissociations observed in cognitive neuropsychology. The argument also bears connections to recent neo-Whorfian accounts of colour categorization. _1._ Introduction _2._ Colour Vision, Experience, and Natures _3._ The Central Argument _3.1._ Colour constancy and discrimination _3.2._ Dissociating colour vision and categorical perception for colour _4._ Whorf and the View from Cognitive Neuropsychology _5._ Conclusion. (shrink)
Several psychological experiments have suggested that concepts can influence perceived color (e.g., Delk and Fillenbaum in Am J Psychol 78(2):290–293, 1965, Hansen et al. in Nat Neurosci 9(11):1367–1368, 2006, Olkkonen et al. in J Vis 8(5):1–16, 2008). Observers tend to assign typical colors to objects even when the objects do not have those colors. Recently, these findings were used to argue that perceptual experience is cognitively penetrable (Macpherson 2012). This interpretation of the experiments has far-reaching consequences: it implies that (...) the way we think of objects determines how we see them, thus threatening the role of perception in justifying beliefs. In this paper, I show that the psychological findings can be accounted for without admitting cognitive penetrability. An underestimated but key feature of the experiments is that observers had to judge colors in borderline cases, in conditions of reduced acuity, or on the basis of color-concepts instead of matching. Such judgments are sensitive to the form of bias that Tversky and Kahneman (Science 185:1124–1131, 1974) have termed ‘anchoring’. Adopting a suggestion from Raffman (Philos Rev 103(1):41–74, 1994), I argue that the way subjects in the experiments think of the objects could affect their color judgments without altering their color experiences. (shrink)
Is color experience cognitively penetrable? Some philosophers have recently argued that it is. In this paper, we take issue with the claim that color experience is cognitively penetrable. We argue that the notion of cognitive penetration that has recently dominated the literature is flawed since it fails to distinguish between the modulation of perceptual content by non-perceptual principles and genuine cognitive penetration. We use this distinction to show that studies suggesting that color experience can be modulated by (...) factors of the cognitive system do not establish that color experience is cognitively penetrable. Additionally, we argue that even if color experience turns out to be modulated by color-related beliefs and knowledge beyond non-perceptual principles, it does not follow that color experience is cognitively penetrable since the experiences of determinate hues involve post-perceptual processes. We conclude with a brief discussion of the implications that these ideas may have on debates in philosophy. (shrink)
Color subjectivism is the view that color properties are mental properties of our visual sensations, perhaps identical with properties of neural states, and that nothing except visual sensations and other mental states exhibits color properties. Color phys- icalism, by contrast, holds that colors are exclusively properties of visible physical objects and processes.
Many philosophers, especially in the wake of the 17th century, have favored an inegalitarian view of shape and color, according to which shape is mind-independent while color is mind-dependent. In this essay, I advance a novel argument against inegalitarianism. The argument begins with an intuition about the modal dependence of color on shape, namely: it is impossible for something to have a color without having a shape. I then argue that, given reasonable assumptions, inegalitarianism contradicts this (...) modal-dependence principle. Given the plausibility of the latter, I conclude that we should reject inegalitarianism in favor of some form of egalitarianism—either a subjective egalitarianism on which both shape and color are mind-dependent or an objective egalitarianism on which both shape and color are mind-independent. (shrink)
Are color adjectives ("red", "green", etc.) relative adjectives or absolute adjectives? Existing theories of the meaning of color adjectives attempt to answer that question using informal ("armchair") judgments. The informal judgments of theorists conflict: it has been proposed that color adjectives are absolute with standards anchored at the minimum degree on the scale, that they are absolute but have near-midpoint standards, and that they are relative. In this paper we report two experiments, one based on entailment patterns (...) and one based on presupposition accommodation, that investigate the meaning of scalar adjectives. We find evidence confirming the existence of subgroups of the population who operate with different standards for color adjectives. The evidence of interpersonal variation in where standards are located on the relevant scale and how those standards can be adjusted indicates that the existing theories of the meaning of color adjectives are at best only partially correct. We also find evidence that paradigmatic relative adjectives ("tall", "wide") behave in ways that are not predicted by the standard theory of scalar adjectives. We discuss several different possible explanations for this unexpected behavior. We conclude by discussing the relevance of our findings for philosophical debates about the nature and extent of semantically encoded context sensitivity in which color adjectives have played a key role. (shrink)
The world as we experience it is full of colour. This book defends the radical thesis that no physical object has any of the colours we experience it as having. The author provides a unified account of colour that shows why we experience the illusion and why the illusion is not to be dispelled but welcomed. He develops a pluralist framework of colour-concepts in which other, more sophisticated concepts of colour are introduced to supplement the simple concept that is presupposed (...) in our ordinary colour experience. The discussion draws on philosophical and scientific literature, both historical and modern, but it is not technical, and will appeal to a broad range of philosophers, cognitive scientists and historians of science. (shrink)
According to unconscious perception hypothesis (UP), mental states of the same fundamental kind as ordinary conscious seeing can occur unconsciously. The proponents of UP often support it with empirical evidence for a more specific hypothesis, according to which colours can be seen unconsciously (UPC). However, UPC is a general claim that admits of many interpretations. The main aim of this paper is to determine which of them is the most plausible. To this end, I investigate how adopting various conceptions of (...) colour and perceptual phenomenal character affects UPC’s resilience to objections. This brings me to the conclusion that the most plausible reading of UPC is the one according to which the phenomenal character of colour perception (i) is constituted by colours qua primitive mind-independent qualities of the environment and (ii) is not essentially tied to consciousness. My conclusion not only identifies the most plausible interpretation of UPC, but also highlights and supports an unorthodox version of the relational theory of perception, which is a perfectly viable yet so far overlooked stance in the debate about unconscious perception. (shrink)
Dispositional theories of colour have been attacked by McGinn and others on the ground that ‘Colours do not look like dispositions’. Langsam has argued that on the contrary they do, in ‘Why Colours Do Look Like Dispositions’, The Philosophical Quarterly, 50 , pp. 68–75. I make three claims. First, neither side has made its case. Secondly, it is true, at least on one interpretation, that colours do not look like dispositions. Thirdly, this does not show that dispositionalism about colours is (...) false. (shrink)
Colour has long been a source of fascination to both scientists and philosophers. In one sense, colours are in the mind of the beholder, in another sense they belong to the external world. Colours appear to lie on the boundary where we have divided the world into 'objective' and 'subjective' events. They represent, more than any other attribute of our visual experience, a place where both physical and mental properties are interwoven in an intimate and enigmatic way. -/- The last (...) few decades have brought fascinating changes in the way that we think about 'colour' and the role 'colour' plays in our perceptual architecture. In Colour Perception: Mind and the physical world, leading scholars from cognitive psychology, philosophy, neurophysiology, and computational vision provide an overview of the contemporary developments in our understanding of colours and of the relationship between the 'mental' and the 'physical'. With each chapter followed by critical commentaries, the volume presents a lively and accessible picture of the intellectual traditions which have shaped research into colour perception. -/- Written in a non-technical style and accessible to an interdisciplinary audience, the book will provide an invaluable resource for researchers in colour perception and the cognitive sciences. (shrink)
One prominent ambition of theories of colour is to pay full justice to how colours are subjectively given to us; and another to reconcile this ﬁrst-personal perspective on colours with the third-personal one of the natural sciences. The goal of this article is to question whether we can satisfy the second ambition on the assumption that the ﬁrst should and can be met. I aim to defend a negative answer to this question by arguing that the various kinds of experienced (...) colour resemblances – notably similarities in hue distance, sameness in superdeterminables, and colour resemblances between surfaces, volumes and illuminants – cannot be accounted for in terms of the mental representa-tion of the scientiﬁcally studied properties, which colours are best identiﬁed with in response to the second ambition. (shrink)
Color adjectives have played a central role in work on language typology and variation, but there has been relatively little investigation of their meanings by researchers in formal semantics. This is surprising given the fact that color terms have been at the center of debates in the philosophy of language over foundational questions, in particular whether the idea of a compositional, truth-conditional theory of natural language semantics is even coherent. The challenge presented by color terms is articulated (...) in detail in the work of Charles Travis. Travis argues that structurally isomorphic sentences containing color adjectives can shift truth value from context to context depending on how they are used and in the absence of effects of vagueness or ambiguity/polysemy, and concludes that a deterministic mapping from structures to truth conditions is impossible. The goal of this paper is to provide a linguistic perspective on this issue, which we believe defuses Travis’ challenge. We provide empirical arguments that color adjectives are in fact ambiguous between gradable and nongradable interpretations, and that this simple ambiguity, together with independently motivated options concerning scalar dimension within the gradable reading accounts for the Travis facts in a simpler, more constrained, and thus ultimately more successful fashion than recent contextualist analyses such as those in Szabó (Perspectives on semantics, pragmatics and discourse: A festschrift for Ferenc Kiefer, 2001) or Rothschild and Segal (Mind Lang, 2009). (shrink)
In this paper I argue that color is a relational feature of the distal objects of perception, a way of appearing. I begin by outlining three constraints any theory of color should satisfy: physicalism about the non‐mental world, consistency with what is known from color science, and transparency about color experience. Traditional positions on the ontological status of color, such as physicalist reduction of color to spectral reflectance, subjectivism, dispositionalism, and primitivism, fail, I claim, (...) to meet all three constraints. By treating color as a relational property, a way of appearing, the three constraints can be met. However, serious problems for this view emerge when considering the relation between illusory color experiences and veridical color experiences. I do not propose a solution to these problems. (shrink)
This paper critically examines color relationalism and color relativism, two theories of color that are allegedly supported by variation in normal human color vision. We mostly discuss color relationalism, defended at length in Jonathan Cohen's The Red and the Real, and argue that the theory has insuperable problems.
I will develop a new problem for almost all realist theories of colour. The problem involves fluctuations in our colour experiences that are due to visual noise rather than changes in the objects we are looking at.
Could there be genuinely novel colours — that is, visual qualities having a hue that bears a resemblance relation to red, green, yellow, and blue, yet is neither reddish, nor greenish, nor yellowish, nor blueish?1 And if there could be such colours, what would it be like to see them? How would the colours look? In his article,"Epiphenomenal Qualia,"2 Frank Jackson presents a philosophical thought experiment that raises these questions . Jackson asks us to imagine a perceiver named Fred who (...) is like us except that he has the ability to see a hue we cannot see. Jackson's question is: "What is the new colour or colours like?"3 Jackson argues that all the physical information about Fred, including the physiology of his brain and visual system, and his dispositions to behaviour, would not enable us to answer this question. The totality of physical information would still leave out something about Fred's experience, namely, what the extra hue is like from the subjective perspective of Fred. And if at some point we became able to see this extra hue , we would learn something that we did not know as a result of having all the physical information about Fred: We would learn how the extra hue looks and thereby learn just what it was that made Fred's experience different from ours. Jackson calls his argument "the knowledge argument." In his view, the argument is similar to Thomas Nagel's in his article "What is it Like to Be a Bat?,"4 but both its point and ultimate conclusion are different. Nagel argues that facts about what conscious experience is like for some creature are essentially connected to the subjective perspective of the creature. The problem that Nagel poses is, how could such facts be revealed in anything objective and physical about the creature? How could the objective characterization indicate what it is like to be the creature ? The point of Jackson's argument, however, is not that we would not know what it is like to be Fred even if we knew everything physical about him ; it is rather that there is still something we do not know about Fred's experience — a property that it has — even when we have all the physical information about him: We do not know how the extra hue that Fred sees looks to Fred, and so we do not know all that there is to know about how Fred's experience of seeing the extra hue differs from his experience of seeing red, green, yellow, and blue.5 Jackson's conclusion is also stronger than Nagel's. (shrink)
This paper (from 2006) is now defunct. I argue against "realist primitivism". One of my arguments is a kind of "evolutionary debunking argument". Some of the material of this was incorporated into “Can Disjunctivists Explain Our Access to the Sensible World?” and "How Does Color Experience Represent the World?".
In this paper I examine whether representationalism can account for various thought experiments about colour inversions. Representationalism is, at minimum, the view that, necessarily, if two experiences have the same representational content then they have the same phenomenal character. I argue that representationalism ought to be rejected if one holds externalist views about experiential content and one holds traditional exter- nalist views about the nature of the content of propositional attitudes. Thus, colour inver- sion scenarios are more damaging to externalist (...) representationalist views than have been previously thought. More specifically, I argue that representationalists who endorse externalism about experiential content either have to become internalists about the content of propositional attitudes or they have to adopt a novel variety of externalism about the content of propositional attitudes. This novel type of propositional attitude externalism is investigated. It can be seen that adopting it forces one to reject Putnam. (shrink)
Laura Berchielli - Color, Space and Figure in Locke: An Interpretation of the Molyneux Problem - Journal of the History of Philosophy 40:1 Journal of the History of Philosophy 40.1 47-65 Color, Space, and Figure in Locke: An Interpretation of the Molyneux Problem Laura Berchielli THIS IS HOW LOCKE, in the second edition of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding , introduces a question that had been suggested to him in a letter from William Molyneux: . . . I (...) shall here insert a Problem of that very Ingenious and Studious promoter of Knowledge, the Learned and Worthy Mr. Molineux, which he was pleased to send me in a Letter some Months since; and it is this: Suppose a Man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch to distinguish between a Cube, and a Sphere of the same metal, and nighly of the same bigness, so as to tell, when he felt one and t'other, which is the Cube, which the Sphere. Suppose then the Cube and Sphere placed on a Table, and the Blind Man to be made to see. Quaere, Whether by his Sight, before he touch'd them, he could now distinguish, and tell, which is the Globe, which the Cube. In the standard interpretation of the Molyneux problem as presented in Locke, the question is always linked to the general issue of differences in the ideas of figure received by the various senses. This interpretation -- put forward by Berkeley --says that for Locke, the ideas of figure produced by sight are specifically different from.. (shrink)
Colors are sensible qualities. They are qualities that objects are perceived to have. Thus, when Norm, a normal perceiver, perceives a blue bead, the bead is perceived have a certain quality, perceived blueness. `Quality', here, is no mere synonym for property; rather, a quality is a kind of property a qualitative, as opposed to quan• titative, property. (The quantitative is a way of contrasting with the qualitative perhaps not the only way.).
I propose a counterexample to naturalistic representational theories of phenomenal character. The counterexample is generated by experiences of novel colours reported by Crane and Piantanida. I consider various replies that a representationalist might make, including whether novel colours could be possible colours of objects and whether one can account for novel colours as one would account for binary colours or colour mixtures. I argue that none of these strategies is successful and therefore that one cannot fully explain the nature of (...) the phenomenal character of perceptual experiences using a naturalistic conception of representation. (shrink)