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Thread: Does colour exist in external reality?

  1. #1 Does colour exist in external reality? 
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    Hi,

    I am not sure If I am posting this in the right section or not, but I read recently a pseudoscientific book, and in the book the author wrote that colour does not exist in external reality, ie it doesn't exist in objects, chairs, grass, etc etc nothing instead everything is in fact bright light made up of the electromagnetic spectrum. he wrote that if we could see without our eyes then everything in the universe would be white or colourless, there would be no colour, he wrote that colour only exists as a physical chemical operation which takes place in the eye due to electromagnetic waves entering the eye. what is the truth on this matter?


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  3. #2  
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    I don't know what an "external reality" is and would avoid such language...but colors are certainly based on how our brain's transmit, process, and perceive signals from photochemical reactions in the retina.


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  4. #3  
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    I don't see the point the author is trying to make. Color is a property of the light in the electromagnetic spectrum. The color of the light reflected or emitted by an object tells us something about that object. Therefore, I say that the color is the property of the object.

    What is it supposed to mean to see without eyes? That's nonsense.
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  5. #4  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Harold14370 View Post
    I don't see the point the author is trying to make. Color is a property of the light in the electromagnetic spectrum. The color of the light reflected or emitted by an object tells us something about that object. Therefore, I say that the color is the property of the object.

    What is it supposed to mean to see without eyes? That's nonsense.
    The book basically claims that everything in the world has no external reality, here I mean separate from the subject, the book was argueing for subjective idealism along the line of Berkeley.

    He admits in the book that color is a property of the light in the electromagnetic spectrum, but claims that when the light rays enter the retina that is when colour appears, ie it is a physical-chemical reaction in the eye, and that "out there" in the natural world there actually is no colour.

    I think this is a philosophical problem, such an idea can never be proven or disproven, it will utimately come down to what a physical object consits of, and you had a whole load of philosophers saying nothing more than sense data.

    I just wanted to know what the official scientific view on this was.
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    He admits in the book that color is a property of the light in the electromagnetic spectrum, but claims that when the light rays enter the retina that is when colour appears, ie it is a physical-chemical reaction in the eye, and that "out there" in the natural world there actually is no colour
    But the mind itself arises from the brain, which is a 'physical-chemical' reaction of its own. It sounds like he's just re-hashing dualism, which is the idea that the mind or spirit is distinct from the physical world. There is color out there in the physical world. We also have an interpretation of color, but it is a mistake to say that our impression is unfounded. We have many, many animals able to demonstrate that perception of color is essential for survival and sexual selection.

    [I think this is a philosophical problem, such an idea can never be proven or disproven
    Consciousness is a slippery problem with slippery edges.
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    if it was made up of bright light shouldn't it glow in the dark?
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    Colours don't really exist anywhere except in our own minds. Photons with a wavelength of 640 nm are perceived as being "red". The colour itself is not intrinsic to either the photon or the object that emitted the photon. Indeed, different eyes can see 640 nm photons as being different colours. For example, the eyes of an alien, colour-blind person or a wasp may see such light in different ways. I once read that human females see red slightly differently from males (I've no idea if that's actually true though).

    People with a condition known as synesthesia can hear, smell or taste colours. If we said to a non-seeing Martian that Beethoven's 5th was a nice mix of purple and blue swirls he might get a little confused trying to figure out what colour actually is. He would conclude that whatever colour is, it only exists in the brain. To a non-seeing Martian colour would be a meaningless concept, whereas the energy, wavelength and frequency of light and the way it interacts with matter would not be. Sticking with aliens, we could imagine a species that also has colour - but colour produced by the frequency of vibration. Perhaps they use sonar or something.

    Anyway, with these examples I've used it can be seen that colour is a strange thing.
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    I would label "colour" as subjective rather than objective. Physically there is only light with different wave lengths, it is our human perception that interprets those as colours.

    Doesn't this belong to philosophy more so than to physics ?
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    Or maybe Biology. Humans have 3 color receptors (cones) with different frequency response characteristics (two of which are very close). Basically radio receivers (EM radiation) tuned to 3 channels.
    But the image is created in the brain.

    Cone-fundamentals-with-srgb-spectrum_svg.jpg
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    Quote Originally Posted by Zwirko View Post
    Colours don't really exist anywhere except in our own minds.
    I agree with the above and also with the comment that colour is "subjective rather than objective".
    I do not believe "colour is the property of the object".
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    Emission spectrum of the object or reflectivity of an object and "light" source spectrum of the illuminator are properties. And of course the emission and absobtion of any intervening medium, etc...

    That's true throught the entire electromagnetic spectrum, not just light.

    Visible light isn't special other than we have a 3 channel receiver built into our head for those frequencies, and a visual system and brain that demodulate and interpret the incoming radiation.
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    Neat chart WM.
    That S- "band?" almost screams "I evolved during your deep sea ancestry," because it's so pronounced and where light frequency penetrates the deepest in sea water.
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    Infrared vibrates atoms, UV freed electrons, and Milimeter-wave moves atoms. Surely Infrared has explicitly different meaning to atoms & molecule than a UV has to them. IF your eyes sees each spectrum as distinct color of distinct 'meaning', then same is for nature (atoms and molecules) which it gave different actions to them; it ISN'T a continuum of spectrum that mean nothing like in drawings.

    The idea that 'color' didn't exist outside human mind is debunked...
    Last edited by msafwan; February 28th, 2012 at 02:26 AM.
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    Colored light exists. Light of particular wave lenghts is defined as being light of a particualr color. The definitions of what wave lengths are called what colors is determined by what most humans see and so is to a certainextent subjective but the varing wavelengths certainly do exist. They are not all the same.
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    OK ; so a paticular wavelingth of light we all learn to call red for example ;but there is no way to know if an other person may see it as green for example but still has learned to call it red ????????
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  18. #17  
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    Quote Originally Posted by atominoceanofignorance View Post
    OK ; so a paticular wavelingth of light we all learn to call red for example ;but there is no way to know if an other person may see it as green for example but still has learned to call it red ????????
    One can call it anything they want. However, the cones that detect it are sensitive to red light.
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