Words for colors--Can Russians see the color blue?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Magical Realist, Nov 24, 2012.

  1. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,820
    I've heard that there is no word for "blue" in the Russian language. That for Russians blue is perceived to be more of a shade of green. Is this true? And what does this imply about the role of language in sensory perception? If you have no name for a color can you still see it?
     
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  3. Enmos Staff Member

    Messages:
    43,184
    Can a cat see a mouse?
     
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  5. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,296
    It implies nothing. If you have no name for a particular type of tree or flower would they immediately become invisible?? How silly!!!
     
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement



    to hide all adverts.
  7. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,826
    Is this a joke? Is this retard-ism? Is this a subtle reference?

    Yes Russians see blue, like everyone on this planet.

    My avatar is of color blue of amorphous ocean. I see it. It is blue.
     
  8. kx000 Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    4,293
    Can man see 'God?'
     
  9. andy1033 Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,048
    lol, i think they do see blue, but i also know what sort of thing op is getting at.
     
  10. ElectricFetus Sanity going, going, gone Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    18,142
    Ah good old Sapir-Whorf verse Chomsky argument. although this one involves perception not thought, imagine if in English blue was actually called "high green", it would not change the fact that we still perceive high green as a different color from green, over time I bet people would get tired of calling it high green and call it something more concise like hreen and over time this would evolve into a completely different word from green.
     
  11. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,820
    Without a name another color becomes more of a different hue or tint vice another color. Like you suggest, a version of green called "high green". Pink for example could originally been just a pastel hue of red. But over time it evolved to aquire it's own distinct color name and hence status as a different color from red. Interesting that color status emphasizes difference and contrast to other colors whereas hue or tint emphasizes sameness within a spectrum of color. Have you ever observed how colors change depending on the adjacent color they are contrasted with? The perception of this contrast, as say between green and blue, is made possible by being defined as a different color vice just another hue or tint.
     
  12. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,820
    A cat undoubtedly sees a furry piece of warm food that is always trying to run away from it. I doubt he actually sees what we define with the word "mouse."
     
  13. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,296
    Just a bunch of words that really mean little.

    Color is a concept that exists totally within the brain. While it's true that different wavelengths of light stimulate different physical organs located in our eyes, it's the brain that converts the resulting electrical signals into what we call "colors." There are many people with "crosswired" brains who perceive colors as sounds and vice-versa. In other words, they actually SEE colors when there is no light available.
     
  14. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,820
  15. leopold Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    17,455
    nevermind . . .
     
  16. C C Consular Corps - "the backbone of diplomacy" Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,805
    They supposedly lack a broad concept of *blue* to subsume all the finer distinctions under: "Russian does not have a single word referring to the whole range of colors denoted by the English term 'blue'. Instead, it traditionally treats light blue as a separate color independent from plain or dark blue." (Source)

    Of course, this is is one of the views that underlie eliminative materialism, descended from Wilfrid Sellars (some quotes at bottom): That awareness of sensory phenomena is a linguistic affair -- at least to those who ground concepts in language. Concepts are not inferred or generalized from particular contents of experience, but are needed beforehand to "see", classify, or abstract an item from its background, to begin with. As opposed to the idea that a perception contains its own discriminations or consciousness of itself; or the endless series of nested observers in the homunculus fallacy that repeat the original scenario for perception. Traced even further back into the past, Sellars' ideas have their origin in Immanuel Kant's philosophy of mind, where the faculty of the "Understanding", which consists of concepts / categories, is applying itself interpretationally to the "Sensibility" -- appearances arranged by the a priori form or pure intuition of space. (Concepts without intuitions are empty, intuitions without concepts are blind).

    There surprisingly doesn't seem to be much science research into the possibility of inverted or variable qualia among humans in their perceptions, even as expressed in popular media. One instance of the latter is this (Link):

    Your Color Red Really Could Be My Blue: "...The result shows there are no predetermined perceptions ascribed to each wavelength, said Carroll, who was not involved in the research. 'The ability to discriminate certain wavelengths arose out of the blue, so to speak -- with the simple introduction of a new gene. Thus, the [brain] circuitry there simply takes in whatever information it has and then confers some sort of perception.' When we're born, our brains most likely do the same thing, the scientists said. Our neurons aren't configured to respond to color in a default way; instead, we each develop a unique perception of color. 'Color is a private sensation,' Carroll said."

    - - - - Wilfrid Sellars' intellectual offspring - - - -

    Eric M. Rubenstein: What then is required for knowledge of our own inner, private episodes, say knowledge that I’m having a sensation of a red triangle, if it isn’t just that I am sensing a red triangle? What else is required besides the actual sensation? In short, knowledge requires concepts, and since concepts are linguistic entities, we can say that knowledge requires a language. To know something as simple as that the patch is red requires an ability to classify that patch, and Sellars thinks the only resource for such rich categorization as adult humans are capable of comes from a public language. Knowledge, and in fact all awareness, according to Sellars, is a linguistic affair. There is no such thing, accordingly, as preconceptual awareness or prelinguistic awareness or knowledge. Sellars calls this the thesis of “Psychological Nominalism,” and it is at the heart of his epistemology and theory of mind. We don’t know the world just by sensing it. We don’t even know our own sensations just by having them. We need a language for any awareness, including of our own sensations.

    [...] The thesis of Psychological Nominalism claims that to be aware of something, x, one must have a concept for x. But there is a flip side to this. If one has a concept of x, one can be aware of x’s. With the concept of x in hand, that is, you can notice all sorts of things you didn’t notice before you had that concept. For instance, a physicist looks at a puff of smoke in a cloud chamber and sees an electron discharged. She comes to have non-inferential knowledge of something we might not, as she has certain concepts we don’t as laypeople, as well as an ability to apply them directly to her experience. In other words, perception is concept-laden, and depending on what concepts you have, you can perceive different things. (Sellars wasn’t the first to articulate this connection, but his development of it made for a revolutionary understanding of thinking and perception). As a result, once we acquire the concept of an inner episode (as we saw for Jones’s peers), we can come to experience those episodes directly, though we were unaware of them before we had the concept.
    --Sellars’ Philosophy of Mind (Link)

    - - - - - - - - -

    Teed Rockwell: The most obvious interpretation of these statements [David Chalmer's assertions that "experience" itself is given without need of inference] is something resembling the Cartesian "Cogito ergo sum": Our subjective experience is where all of our attempts to understand the world begin, because it is directly given to us as a brute fact. Unlike Descartes, Chalmers does not necessarily claim that the contents of our conscious experience are all given to us with certainty. [...] But Chalmers claims that the existence of the mental states is not open to question. They are there as a brute fact, and consequently that fact needs to be accounted for.

    [...] I intend to get around those intuitions by accounting for their existence, not by denying it. But accounting for their existence is very different from taking it for granted. [...] My primary inspiration for this alternative explanation will be Wilfrid Sellars' critique of "the Myth of the Given". But I will not limit myself to Sellars scholarship. I will borrow from the ideas of those who have built on Sellars' insights, and freely add interpretations of my own. [...] We can [...] begin with a quote from Sellars' "Empiricism and the Philosophy of Mind", which Sellars considered important enough to put in italics.

    "For we now recognize that instead of coming to have a concept of something because we have noticed that sort of thing, the ability to notice a sort of thing is already to have the concept of that sort of thing and cannot account for it." (Sellars 1963 p. 176)

    What makes this quote relevant to our discussion is that Sellars believed that this was true not only for concepts like 'table" and "green", but also for the concepts with which we comprehend our subjective experience. To paraphrase the above quote, we do not come to have a concept of subjective experience because we have noticed that we have subjective experience. Rather the ability to notice that we have subjective experience is already to have the concept of it. This means that because we have inherited a folk-Cartesian concept that includes a doctrine of direct access, we will experience ourselves as confronting first person subjectivity as a brute fact, an explanandum, and thus the hard problem seems to be unavoidable. This is why a large majority of people think that something other than structure and function needs explaining: Because introspection tells them so. However, the Sellarsian view can account for this experience without asserting that we must know on the basis of introspection that we are conscious.

    Sellarsians claim that the existence of internal states is something we posit to explain certain facts about our life in the world. (for example, the fact that sometimes we hallucinate and have red-apple experiences when there are no red apples present., or that red apples look orange in yellow light.) Consequently, introspection does not directly reveal to us that we have mental states, rather introspection is only possible because we accept a theory that posits the existence of mental states that can be introspected. Those who have genuinely appropriated such a theory spontaneously make a distinction between inner events and outer events, and it thus seems to them that the inner events are directly given, and that the outer events are only inferred from those inner events. Professional epistemologists eventually refined this assumption into various sense datum theories. These eventually became so full of conceptual tangles that eventually Sellars had to come along and posit a new theory, which said that none of our experience is directly given, not even our experience of our own inner states.

    Sellarsians do not deny that it seems to us that our mental life is central and manifest, and the fundamental explanandum in the science of mind. But they account for this appearance by saying that our theories trickle down into our experience in such a way as to make the distinction between explanandum and explanans untenable. [...] When a theory helps us become more at home in the world, we naturally begin to experience the world in it's terms. This is what Patricia Churchland meant when she said "the available theory specifies not only what counts as an explanation, but also the explananda themselves" (P.S. Churchland 1986 p.398)

    Because our inherited folk-Cartesianism posits consciousness as something directly given, and takes cognitive functions and contents to be mediated or inferential, we began to spontaneously take there to be something we call "experience", which is supposedly different from the things in the outside world that are being experienced. It thus seems obvious to us that experience is a further prima facie phenomenon that needs explaining. It also seems obvious that anything that looks like what we think of as a structure and function based explanation cannot possibly do the job. But the fact that this seems obvious does not necessarily mean that it is true. It just means that it appears to be true for those who are spontaneously experiencing the world in Folk-Cartesian terms.
    --The Hard Problem is Dead; Long live the hard problem (Link)
     
  17. andy1033 Truth Seeker Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    1,048
    I would think science can answer that already, does cats brains build images like the human brain? If they can use techs to take images out of human brains i assume they can do the same to cats.

    Then is it possible to use cats to spy, and get more information, as there brains may be collecting slightly different data.

    Amazing how that lens thing works, and how just because of gravity on earth humans see and percieve mostly the same.

    Could it be that mankind in the future will alter gravity on earth to distort our perception here on earth, and what will that open up?
     
  18. Sarkus Hippomonstrosesquippedalo phobe Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    7,454
    Interestingly, there is a tribe in Africa that highlights something similar.
    This tribe has only a few words of colour, yet while they may have one word that covers what we perceive as vastly different colours, they may have different words for shades of green that we would have great difficulty in distinguishing.
    The scientists ran an experiment where they had the tribes-people pick the "odd colour out" when shown 12 boxes on a computer screen.
    First it was run when the different block was a shade of blue as opposed to a shade of green... but because the tribes-people had the same word for both these colours, they had great difficulty in picking out (if indeed they could) what is to us an obvious difference.
    Next they ran it where one block was a very subtly different shade of green. To us (Westerners) we would be very unlikely to spot the different one. But the tribes-people, because they had a specific word for this different shade and saw it as a different colour, were able to easily identify the odd one out.

    I think it was a BBC "Horizon" programme - but well worth a watch if you can find it on Youtube.


    So how we're brought up, and our language - e.g. the words we use for colours - do seem to have an impact on how we interpret colours.

    That said, we all still receive the same wavelengths when looking at the same colour... it is then a matter of how our brain interprets it.
     
  19. Enmos Staff Member

    Messages:
    43,184
    So that's a yes. A cat can see a mouse even though it has no word to describe it.

    Most non-mammalian vertebrate species distinguish different colors at least as well as humans, and many species of birds, fish, reptiles and amphibians, as well as some invertebrates, have more than three cone types and probably superior color vision to humans.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Color_vision

    And yet they have no words to describe any color.


    P.S.
    For the Russians: Quoted text is in blue. Sorry.
     
  20. Enmos Staff Member

    Messages:
    43,184
    They have so many words for different shades of green because noticing them as different shades is important to them. That also means that they are trained to distinguish these shades.
    It's not the other way around; they do not have the ability to distinguish these different shades because they have names for them.
     
  21. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,820
    Having no language-based concept of color it's doubtful animals perceive color at all, at least in the sense of something separate from the object they are perceiving. To "see red" you have to be able to consciously abstract red from the red-colored object. What they "see" are colored objects, but never color as something separate from its object.
     
  22. youreyes amorphous ocean Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    2,826
    Can the OP see Russians?
     
  23. Magical Realist Valued Senior Member

    Messages:
    10,820
    Awesome material CC. That pretty much gets to the core of what I was proposing--that perception itself is predetermined by a preexistent conceptual substrate that is built up out of language. Needless to say Sellars has more than covered this in much fuller detail.
     

Share This Page