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My red, your red.

kp98
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7/17/2015 3:33:05 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
My red, your red - are they the same?

As far as I know there is no way to know for sure if 'red' looks the same to me as it does to you. Of course we will both agree a London bus is red, but that is because 'red' is the word we learned to describle London buses, but that doesn't mean my subjective experience of red things is the same as yours. It is conceivable that if - by some tecnhnological magic - I could see things as you do all the colours are swapped around.

My guess would be that my red and your red are the same, but it's little more than my gut feeling. To support my guess I'd point out that its likely the 'mapping' between physical light-wavelengths and subjective colours is the result of evolution so natural selection would eventually settle down on the optimal solution. We also agree about what colours are similar (orange is more like red than blue) and we all perceive a red/green mix and monochromatic yellow as the same colour.

Also people with certain types of different colour perception can be detected by colour blindness tests, so perhaps if we all saw colours different it would actually show up in some way.

But all that falls way short of proving my red is your red.

Comments?
Chaosism
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7/17/2015 3:57:52 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
I've actually made this exact point when conversing with someone quite recently (except I referenced yellow). I assume that there is ultimately no way to tell. No matter what one points to in order to claim otherwise, such as the psychological effects of color, it all boils down to a matter of interpretation and association by each individual mind. I can't imagine there being a wild difference, given the similar optical and brain structure between humans, but I would definitely bet that there is at least some variance between individuals' definitions of 'red'.
kp98
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7/17/2015 5:11:46 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
It's a bit of a challenge for science types too. Either we all see colours the same way or we don't, but it seems impossible to know which it is. What does that say about the limits of science?
n7
Posts: 1,360
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7/18/2015 4:45:53 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
MY RED YOUR RED MY RED YOUR RED MY RED YOUR RED!!!

It is possible for my red and your red to be different. You mention color blindness, the reason why someone is color blind is because he they have two of the same types of cells for processing the same wavelengths of light, when it should be different. For example, someone who is color blind to high wavelengths of light has a medium wavelength ganglion cell where his high wavelength cell should be. The same can happen vice versa. There's no reason why someone cannot have the cells switched, making him perceive medium wavelengths like high wavelengths and high wavelengths like medium.

They would function like everyone else, but see color differently. They'd never know it either.
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Such
Posts: 1,110
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7/20/2015 8:51:09 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/17/2015 3:33:05 PM, kp98 wrote:
My red, your red - are they the same?

As far as I know there is no way to know for sure if 'red' looks the same to me as it does to you. Of course we will both agree a London bus is red, but that is because 'red' is the word we learned to describle London buses, but that doesn't mean my subjective experience of red things is the same as yours. It is conceivable that if - by some tecnhnological magic - I could see things as you do all the colours are swapped around.

My guess would be that my red and your red are the same, but it's little more than my gut feeling. To support my guess I'd point out that its likely the 'mapping' between physical light-wavelengths and subjective colours is the result of evolution so natural selection would eventually settle down on the optimal solution. We also agree about what colours are similar (orange is more like red than blue) and we all perceive a red/green mix and monochromatic yellow as the same colour.

Also people with certain types of different colour perception can be detected by colour blindness tests, so perhaps if we all saw colours different it would actually show up in some way.

But all that falls way short of proving my red is your red.

Comments?

I'm pretty sure that your red is conclusively not my red. Cones and rods differ. We both see red (in most cases), but they aren't exactly the same.
ShabShoral
Posts: 3,236
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7/21/2015 2:44:23 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
If "my red" and "your red" are different, then obviously you're equivocating when using the term "red" to apply to both, thus making it clear that the only problem is one of semantics. If, when I say "red", I mean "the colour that I experience when I look at x object", and you, after experiencing a different colour from looking at the object, say that "I agree! This is red!", you would be flat-out wrong, because you are, in effect, stating that "This is the colour that *you* experience" when the experiences are obviously different.

The reason why this isn't a problem is that that isn't what people mean when they say "red". When they point to an object and declare it red, they're, in effect, saying that "whatever the result of the wavelength of light bouncing off that object interacting with your (a subjective "your", applying to everyone who uses "red") eye is is red", which solves everything - there are no differences in opinion on what "red" is because red is no longer reliant on the specific conditions of perception and instead is now whatever perception results from an object (which, abstractly, isn't subject-dependent insofar as one person's "red" can't be "wrong" or not implied by the definition of the word even to someone who has a totally different experience of the colour).
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kp98
Posts: 729
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7/21/2015 3:56:09 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
If "my red" and "your red" are different, then obviously you're equivocating when using the term "red" to apply to both, thus making it clear that the only problem is one of semantics. If, when I say "red", I mean "the colour that I experience when I look at x object", and you, after experiencing a different colour from looking at the object, say that "I agree! This is red!", you would be flat-out wrong, because you are, in effect, stating that "This is the colour that *you* experience" when the experiences are obviously different.

I think you are restating what I said about London buses:
we will both agree a London bus is red, but that is because 'red' is the word we learned to describe London buses, but that doesn't mean my subjective experience of red things is the same as yours

What I'm interested in is whether the apparent possibility we see colours differently carries over into reality. Certainly we both associate the word 'red' with low-frequency light and the word 'blue' with the shorter variery, which is why there is no problem in communicating, but there is a philosophical problem. Is my subjective experience of red the same as yours? Perhaps the real philosophical question is - can we ever know the answer to what seems a straightforward question?
Otokage
Posts: 2,351
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7/21/2015 3:51:47 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 7/17/2015 3:33:05 PM, kp98 wrote:
My red, your red - are they the same?

As far as I know there is no way to know for sure if 'red' looks the same to me as it does to you. Of course we will both agree a London bus is red, but that is because 'red' is the word we learned to describle London buses, but that doesn't mean my subjective experience of red things is the same as yours. It is conceivable that if - by some tecnhnological magic - I could see things as you do all the colours are swapped around.

My guess would be that my red and your red are the same, but it's little more than my gut feeling. To support my guess I'd point out that its likely the 'mapping' between physical light-wavelengths and subjective colours is the result of evolution so natural selection would eventually settle down on the optimal solution. We also agree about what colours are similar (orange is more like red than blue) and we all perceive a red/green mix and monochromatic yellow as the same colour.

Also people with certain types of different colour perception can be detected by colour blindness tests, so perhaps if we all saw colours different it would actually show up in some way.

But all that falls way short of proving my red is your red.

Comments?

That's an interesting topic :) Only three comments. One, that as far as we have different brains and different number of photoreceptors (cones, rods...), we will probably never see the exact same color. Never.

Second comment, is that evolution does not produce "optimal" systems, because that would mean those systems can not evolve anymore, which of course is not possible!

And three, humans can only see a limited number of colors, and therefore I believe it is possible that two persons with different brains and different photoreceptors, effectively see the same color as long as their brain and photoreceptors are similar enough, which kinda debunks my first point :) and leads me to believe that the more inept is a species regarding color reception, the more easily two individuals will see the exact same color. This means that it will be almost impossible to find two hawks that see the same colors, but easier to find two bees that see the same color!
kp98
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7/21/2015 4:23:21 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
That would be an excellent post for the science forum. O! But you don't address the philosophical issue of whether we can design an empirical test of subective experience.

I would agree that evolution doesn't produce truly optimal systems - I was being very loose there because it was just a side point. But evolution does produce systems that usually work very well and doesn't vary them all that much (your blood works the same as my blood). I think it likely evolution would use a 'very nearly' optimal mapping from wavelength to subjective colour, and given mapping that to each of us (although I'll allow anyone to disagree with that).

But can we ever know if red looks the same to you as it does to me?