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Missing Shade of blue

kasmic
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8/26/2015 10:44:47 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
David Hume in his "A Treatise of Human Nature" argues that ultimately all ideas are derived from experience. Hume says "There is, however, one contradictory phenomenon, which may prove, that it is not absolutely impossible for ideas to arise, independent of their correspondent impressions." This phenomenon is known as the "missing shade of blue."

He states in his treatise that

"Suppose, therefore, a person to have enjoyed his sight for thirty years, and to have become perfectly acquainted with colours of all kinds, except one particular shade of blue, for instance, which it never has been his fortune to meet with. Let all the different shades of that colour, except that single one, be placed before him, descending gradually from the deepest to the lightest; it is plain, that he will perceive a blank, where that shade is wanting, and will be sensible, that there is a greater distance in that place between the contiguous colours than in any other. Now I ask, whether it be possible for him, from his own imagination, to supply this deficiency, and raise up to himself the idea of that particular shade, though it had never been conveyed to him by his senses? I believe there are few but will be of opinion that he can: And this may serve as a proof, that the simple ideas are not always, in every instance, derived from the correspondent impressions;"

He does argue that "though this instance is so singular, that it is scarcely worth our observing, and does not merit, that for it alone we should alter our general maxim."

What do you think? Does the "missing shade of blue" disprove the overall argument that all ideas are derived from experience? Do you agree with Hume that this instance is singular, or easily dismissed?
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treeless
Posts: 64
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8/27/2015 4:55:51 AM
Posted: 1 year ago
If you experience the various colors and their simple impressions, the faculty of imagination and the trends of past impressions should allow you to form the simple idea of the missing shade (which is still based on impressions, if not the "actual" impression of the missing shade).

In order to disprove Hume's theory, I think one must be able to adequately prove that an idea can arise from which no impression at all has been given. Such as a blind man describing the color red from his imagination alone.

In other words, it is a matter of sufficient impressions to form an idea versus lack of impressions and still forming a coherent idea.
Chaosism
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8/28/2015 1:03:34 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Such incremental things are not necessarily noticed by the mind if it is used to other things. To demonstrate what I'm talking about, I'll refer to the traditional musical scale of C major. On this wiki link (https://en.wikipedia.org...), there is a sound file that plays the notes in ascending order and then descending order. Take a listen.

The notes should sound like they increase in even increments, but they really don't. If you know music, a typical musical scale consists of seven notes, so five other notes are omitted from what would be a true chromatic scale (all the notes in even progression). The frequencies of the notes (starting with middle C) in chromatic scale are shown below. Those marked "skipped" are omitted by the C Major Scale.

261.63 Hz - C (middle)
277.18 Hz - C#/Db [skipped]
293.66 Hz - D
311.13 Hz - D#/Eb [skipped]
329.63 Hz - E
349.23 Hz - F
369.99 Hz - F#/Gb [skipped]
392.00 Hz - G
415.30 Hz - G#/Ab [skipped]
440.00 Hz - A
466.16 Hz - A#/Bb [skipped]
493.88 Hz - B
523.25 Hz - C
skipsaweirdo
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8/28/2015 2:48:28 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 8/28/2015 1:03:34 PM, Chaosism wrote:
Such incremental things are not necessarily noticed by the mind if it is used to other things. To demonstrate what I'm talking about, I'll refer to the traditional musical scale of C major. On this wiki link (https://en.wikipedia.org...), there is a sound file that plays the notes in ascending order and then descending order. Take a listen.

The notes should sound like they increase in even increments, but they really don't. If you know music, a typical musical scale consists of seven notes, so five other notes are omitted from what would be a true chromatic scale (all the notes in even progression). The frequencies of the notes (starting with middle C) in chromatic scale are shown below. Those marked "skipped" are omitted by the C Major Scale.

261.63 Hz - C (middle)
277.18 Hz - C#/Db [skipped]
293.66 Hz - D
311.13 Hz - D#/Eb [skipped]
329.63 Hz - E
349.23 Hz - F
369.99 Hz - F#/Gb [skipped]
392.00 Hz - G
415.30 Hz - G#/Ab [skipped]
440.00 Hz - A
466.16 Hz - A#/Bb [skipped]
493.88 Hz - B
523.25 Hz - C

So aren't there also missing middle eastern tones or Asian tones which are typically a quarter tone lower than European? Not sure if the imagination of sounds would be the same relative to sight, but it is interesting to wonder how musical tone omission would impact imagination given the same scenarios. Btw, I'm guessing at the tuning. I read somewhere Jimmi Paige tuned his guitar a quarter tone down on each string for a Zepplin song to give it a middle eastern sound, forget the song though.
Chaosism
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8/28/2015 3:07:39 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 8/28/2015 2:48:28 PM, skipsaweirdo wrote:

So aren't there also missing middle eastern tones or Asian tones which are typically a quarter tone lower than European? Not sure if the imagination of sounds would be the same relative to sight, but it is interesting to wonder how musical tone omission would impact imagination given the same scenarios. Btw, I'm guessing at the tuning. I read somewhere Jimmi Paige tuned his guitar a quarter tone down on each string for a Zepplin song to give it a middle eastern sound, forget the song though.

There are a lot of differing scales and tones and whatnot, most of which I have little or no familiarity with. Regarding the tuning of the Zepplin song, merely tuning all of the strings down a quarter step would still have the same "contour" or same ratios between note frequencies. I think further adjustments would have to me made to change the sound in such a way.

The uneven distribution is the point, really. There are infinite different frequencies in between those that are omitted, much like there are infinite points on a line. None of those missing points will be apparent, and I believe the same reasoning can be applied to colors.
Yassine
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8/28/2015 3:12:27 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 8/26/2015 10:44:47 PM, kasmic wrote:
David Hume in his "A Treatise of Human Nature" argues that ultimately all ideas are derived from experience. Hume says "There is, however, one contradictory phenomenon, which may prove, that it is not absolutely impossible for ideas to arise, independent of their correspondent impressions." This phenomenon is known as the "missing shade of blue."

He states in his treatise that

"Suppose, therefore, a person to have enjoyed his sight for thirty years, and to have become perfectly acquainted with colours of all kinds, except one particular shade of blue, for instance, which it never has been his fortune to meet with. Let all the different shades of that colour, except that single one, be placed before him, descending gradually from the deepest to the lightest; it is plain, that he will perceive a blank, where that shade is wanting, and will be sensible, that there is a greater distance in that place between the contiguous colours than in any other. Now I ask, whether it be possible for him, from his own imagination, to supply this deficiency, and raise up to himself the idea of that particular shade, though it had never been conveyed to him by his senses? I believe there are few but will be of opinion that he can: And this may serve as a proof, that the simple ideas are not always, in every instance, derived from the correspondent impressions;"

He does argue that "though this instance is so singular, that it is scarcely worth our observing, and does not merit, that for it alone we should alter our general maxim."

What do you think? Does the "missing shade of blue" disprove the overall argument that all ideas are derived from experience? Do you agree with Hume that this instance is singular, or easily dismissed?

- I think a better example would be Ibn Sina's 'Man In The Void'. Ibn Sina proposes a thought experiment where a blind & deaf man popped up in space with no air surrounding him, how would his mind operate?! He argues that this man has no experience with the outside world whatsoever, thus no functional senses. Yet, it is conceivable that he is capable of thought!
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Chaosism
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8/28/2015 3:55:50 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 8/28/2015 3:12:27 PM, Yassine wrote:

- I think a better example would be Ibn Sina's 'Man In The Void'. Ibn Sina proposes a thought experiment where a blind & deaf man popped up in space with no air surrounding him, how would his mind operate?! He argues that this man has no experience with the outside world whatsoever, thus no functional senses. Yet, it is conceivable that he is capable of thought!

Interesting. Such a person would still not be wholly isolated from reality, though. For one, will he experience pain from the vacuum or suffer from lack of oxygen? If exempt from these stimuli, he can still interact with space through the movement of his limbs. This provides precious little input to the brain that perhaps can fuel extremely limited inward thought, but if those sensations have no perceived cause in reality to which to attribute them, then any level reasonable thought seems impossible, since all thought and concepts you are capable of holding are rooting in your perceptions. My current thinking is: Literally zero input yields literally zero output (thought).
tejretics
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8/28/2015 4:07:14 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
If the missing shade of blue is envisioned as an idea by the man, then Hume's rejection is ridiculous. A single example is enough to refute such an assertion. I find the idea that ideas require empirical grounds to be false, since the idea of the color "white" is present within us regardless of if we see it -- it is merely the presence of photons that even those that are blind can somehow associate with.
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Yassine
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8/28/2015 4:16:00 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 8/28/2015 3:55:50 PM, Chaosism wrote:
At 8/28/2015 3:12:27 PM, Yassine wrote:

- I think a better example would be Ibn Sina's 'Man In The Void'. Ibn Sina proposes a thought experiment where a blind & deaf man popped up in space with no air surrounding him, how would his mind operate?! He argues that this man has no experience with the outside world whatsoever, thus no functional senses. Yet, it is conceivable that he is capable of thought!

Interesting. Such a person would still not be wholly isolated from reality, though. For one, will he experience pain from the vacuum or suffer from lack of oxygen? If exempt from these stimuli, he can still interact with space through the movement of his limbs.

- The guy is paralysed as well. So, nothing really is happening.

This provides precious little input to the brain that perhaps can fuel extremely limited inward thought, but if those sensations have no perceived cause in reality to which to attribute them, then any level reasonable thought seems impossible, since all thought and concepts you are capable of holding are rooting in your perceptions. My current thinking is: Literally zero input yields literally zero output (thought).

- I don't think that is the case. As far as the brain goes, the brain can function even without any senses. That alone is ground for a priori knowledge.
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Chaosism
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8/28/2015 4:21:49 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 8/28/2015 4:16:00 PM, Yassine wrote:
At 8/28/2015 3:55:50 PM, Chaosism wrote:
At 8/28/2015 3:12:27 PM, Yassine wrote:

- I think a better example would be Ibn Sina's 'Man In The Void'. Ibn Sina proposes a thought experiment where a blind & deaf man popped up in space with no air surrounding him, how would his mind operate?! He argues that this man has no experience with the outside world whatsoever, thus no functional senses. Yet, it is conceivable that he is capable of thought!

Interesting. Such a person would still not be wholly isolated from reality, though. For one, will he experience pain from the vacuum or suffer from lack of oxygen? If exempt from these stimuli, he can still interact with space through the movement of his limbs.

- The guy is paralysed as well. So, nothing really is happening.

Gotchya.

This provides precious little input to the brain that perhaps can fuel extremely limited inward thought, but if those sensations have no perceived cause in reality to which to attribute them, then any level reasonable thought seems impossible, since all thought and concepts you are capable of holding are rooting in your perceptions. My current thinking is: Literally zero input yields literally zero output (thought).

- I don't think that is the case. As far as the brain goes, the brain can function even without any senses. That alone is ground for a priori knowledge.

What kind of knowledge or thoughts do you speculate that such a mind would be capable of?
Sidewalker
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8/28/2015 5:43:06 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 8/26/2015 10:44:47 PM, kasmic wrote:
David Hume in his "A Treatise of Human Nature" argues that ultimately all ideas are derived from experience. Hume says "There is, however, one contradictory phenomenon, which may prove, that it is not absolutely impossible for ideas to arise, independent of their correspondent impressions." This phenomenon is known as the "missing shade of blue."

He states in his treatise that

"Suppose, therefore, a person to have enjoyed his sight for thirty years, and to have become perfectly acquainted with colours of all kinds, except one particular shade of blue, for instance, which it never has been his fortune to meet with. Let all the different shades of that colour, except that single one, be placed before him, descending gradually from the deepest to the lightest; it is plain, that he will perceive a blank, where that shade is wanting, and will be sensible, that there is a greater distance in that place between the contiguous colours than in any other. Now I ask, whether it be possible for him, from his own imagination, to supply this deficiency, and raise up to himself the idea of that particular shade, though it had never been conveyed to him by his senses? I believe there are few but will be of opinion that he can: And this may serve as a proof, that the simple ideas are not always, in every instance, derived from the correspondent impressions;"

He does argue that "though this instance is so singular, that it is scarcely worth our observing, and does not merit, that for it alone we should alter our general maxim."

What do you think? Does the "missing shade of blue" disprove the overall argument that all ideas are derived from experience? Do you agree with Hume that this instance is singular, or easily dismissed?

First of all, I think Hume's "first principle in the science of human nature", that every simple idea must necessarily arise from a simple impression, has been thoroughly refuted by both science and philosophy. It's clear that we don't actually see a gap in the color chart because the mind supplies the missing shade. I think Hume must have recognized that "innate ideas" were at least a possibility and was pointing that out with the "Missing Shade of Blue" thought exercise.

Whether or not the "first principle" is thereby refuted becomes a matter of whether or not the mind's conjured shade of blue is an innate simple idea or a complex idea. If the conjured shade of blue results from the mind taking the simple ideas of the two adjacent shades to formulate a complex idea about the missing shade of blue, then his first principle can be considered intact. I don"t think it matters much because it seems that the determination of whether or not the conjured shade of blue is a simple idea or a complex idea is pretty arbitrary anyway.

Most of the philosophical analysis of the missing shade of blue has focused on "why" and "what the hell" he was talking about, rather than the actual implications of the thought exercise. It"s typical of philosophy that Hume himself dismissed the exercise as mostly irrelevant right after he wrote it, and then philosophers spent the next 300 years trying to figure it out.
"It is one of the commonest of mistakes to consider that the limit of our power of perception is also the limit of all there is to perceive." " C. W. Leadbeater
dylancatlow
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8/28/2015 6:20:55 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Frankly, I find this question rather trivial. Even if it turns out that all of our simple ideas are derived from experience, it did not have to be that way. It's obvious that our ideas are the product of neural firing patterns in the brain. So if you were to construct a brain whose configuration was exactly that of a brain which had encountered the color red, it's obvious that it conceive of "red" even if the brain was never connected to eyes that had perceived the color red.

The structure of our brain dictates which ideas we have. Since our brain has innate structure, it seems obvious that our ideas would have an innate basis as well. In other words, implicit in our ideas is innate structure, whether or not the content of those ideas was derived from experience. Experience is merely how the structure of the brain gets shaped by the environment. Ideas derived from experience are not fundamentally different from innate ideas; they're both just the product of brain configuration, whether or not the structure responsible for them just came about in different ways. There's no reason to think the structure responsible for our ideas must be sculpted by our environments.
Yassine
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8/28/2015 11:02:26 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
At 8/28/2015 4:21:49 PM, Chaosism wrote:

What kind of knowledge or thoughts do you speculate that such a mind would be capable of?

- I am guessing a sort of pure a priori knowledge. Something that has to do with structure, emotions... Now, the issue here is the lack of a conventional Language! So, maybe some unique type of language would emerge in such conditions. I mean, there are people who are born blind or deaf or both. They must have some sort of device to replace the visual or audible language.
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fromantle
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8/29/2015 8:15:38 PM
Posted: 1 year ago
Hume was quite correct.The mind is an inventive machine any good novel is a testament to that. Hume was understandably nervous to open the creative doors of the mind for once thrown open there is no telling where we may end up. But he was uneasy that some other way of obtaining information may be possible.
We like things cut and dried, parcelled neatly , sorted beyond doubt but intelligent men know this is impossible. The scientists with their orderly minds seek a theory of everything ; well I fear its an elusive butterfly but you may d iscovet alsorts of interesting things as you chase the dream.
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