Color, abstactions, and accidents

Greetings all!

I’m new to philosophy and I’m really struggling with grappling these concepts. As an American of generation Y, I had a substandard high school education. With all of the emphasis placed on math and sciences, presumably to breed minds to feed the economy, the humanities and abstractions are brushed into the waste bin. At this point, i’m trying to wrap my head around these things so I was wondering if you bright folks could help!

Let me start with a statement that made me scratch my head, “I can imagine a world that is only pink.” By this, it is suggested that there are not pink things, only pink. Is this possible? The way I understand color is as a dense set. You can gather a large group of items and designate them as pink, but pink by itself? What is color?

Another thing I’m wondering about is spatial temporal particulars and daydreams. If something takes up a certain amount of space at a certain time, where is that space? Time…time confuses the ***** out of me. When I’m concentrating time seems to pass by quickly, where other times it crawls by. This all seems perception based so is time the same for everyone? Time seems to be arbitrarily defined.

Why is it suggested that there are no pink things? Pink is the adjective; world is the noun.

Well, how do we measure time? How does that differ from how we experience it?

First off, let me apologize for being all over the place with my thoughts. Philosophy for me seems like a lot of ](*,)

Wow, I feel kind of dumb after rereading that statement after your pretty basic explanation. If the ‘world’ is pink then would everything within the dense set of the ‘world’ be pink, following the logic of the statement?

Well, we measure time by seconds, minutes, hours, ect. However, it seems to be a vacuum. When I’m incredibly focused, an hour feels like minutes. Inversely, if I’m bored time appears to pass quite slowly. It seems that our system of measurement is an attempt to control what would otherwise be impossible to define. If we were living in the bowels of a dark cave for months on end, with no time telling equipment, our experience of time would ideally be vastly different, in a vacuum.

Well on Earth at least time passes the same for all of us, our perceptions however are not subject to absolute time. For example the reason why time seems to pass more quickly when you are older is because the amount of new information you are taking in diminishes, requiring less brain processing progressively. However I can assure you that the days are not longer when you are young.

Haha, that’s the charm. :stuck_out_tongue:

If you want set theory, the set of things has the same content as the set of things which are pink. Of course, we’d not have a word for pink if it was. Or maybe we’d have hundreds of them.

The time we measure and what we experience are different things, then, clearly. Which one’s confusing you most? :slight_smile:

I guess the distinction between the two is confusing. If I had to isolate one as the more confusing it’d be the time we experience. Measured time seems simply enough. A time that is unchanging and constant. However, since the time we experience is based on our perception then it seems it is hard to distinguish past vs. present vs. future. Right now, I consider myself in the present. Except for that last second, which is now recorded in my memory. As with most things, don’t we compare what we experience against what we know? (I know we could dive into epistemology at this point, but one step at a time!) For instance, it seems like we compare time experienced against the standard of time that we have defined. Gah! It’s all very perplexing! Abstractions are slippery buggers. Until I stated looking into philosophy I never really cared to distinguish standard time vs experienced time. What is the difference?

Hi, UND, and welcome to ilp.

Man invented time. He needs ‘time’ to order his life–when to sow, when to reap, when to eat, when to sleep. It’s all based on a solar time, which makes women time ‘binders,’ since for much of our lives, our bodies are controlled by a lunar rather than a solar calendar.

Time is relative–going away from home always seems to take longer than does the trip home. A happy day seems to zip by, while a grey day takes forever. If you’re really into something, time seems to stop altogether.

PS, I’m not a philosopher the way a lot of people here are–I’d rather call myself an observer–with my own thoughts and opinions, of course. :smiley:

It seems color is something that can only exist as a property of a physical object, or at the very least as a property belonging to some area of space. When we look up at the night sky, we see black. Why not some other color? You could, in principle, rewire the brain so that the “default” color it preceives when no light enters the eyes is pink rather than black. At the same time, this also hints at the fact that color is not an objective phenomenon, but depends on our physiology and how it’s setup to perceive color. One could, I suppose, interpret a universe of ‘pink’ as one consisting only of a specific frequency of electromagnetic radiation (whichever frequency corresponds to pink), and this might count as ‘objective’, but I don’t think this is what you had in mind.

Do you mean “Where did that space go (because it’s been filled up)?” or “What space is that space contained in?” To answer the first question: that space is gone - either that or you could say it’s still there between the particles of that object (which, if you study quantum mechanics, aren’t really “taking up” space themselves). To answer the second question: all finite spaces are contained in infinite space. Defining a finite space for a smaller space to be contained in is a bit more tricky. Space isn’t a fixed entity. The larger space isn’t “there” in the same sense as a physical object is there. We carve out sections of space within the context of our visual (or sensory) fields, and again this brings us back to a subjective perspective.

This time you’ve said it for me: it’s perception-based and arbitrarily defined. This seems to be the point which all your questions funnel down to. And based on your last question in your last post, you’re well aware of this.

Time as we experience it is a synthesis of our perception of motion (present), memory (past), and anticipation based on conditioning (future). Time as an objective fact is something we rationally and collectively deduce based on our subjective experience of time.

Ah, it’s making a little sense now. This disucssion leads me to want to address another questions I had about spatio-temopral particulars. I’ve read some of the literature on this, but it talked way over my head. From what I understand, they are physical objects that take up a certain place in space at a particular time. What time and what space are they taking up? Are they taking up space within a defined content (that context being a carved out part of space in the infinite space)? If they are at that particular spot in space, does it matter the time as long as it is relative to the observer?
Perhaps something that will put it into context for me is this: are all physical objects spatio-temporal particulars? Do abstractions, like color, take up space at a certain time?

Special relativity is not way over most peoples heads, it just takes getting into a mindset where you give up your Earth bound preconceptions, for the way things really are. Try reading up on that, space and time are the same thing though, motion and hence space and time are intimately dependant. … ivity.html

Special relativity for dummies. :slight_smile:

Some of your questions are unanswerable, but the way you phrase them is unfamiliar to me, and aren’t couched in language that I usually read about the subject. I’ll say this though what exactly is colour. Is it just an abstraction? That will answer that question at least. It’s actually quite fundamental to the theory, although only because photons are what have the energy properties we might call in a very limited range, colour.

I will definitely give that a read. My apologies for the less than understandable tongue. I’m sure that they more I study this and read into it that i’ll pick up on the language where I can actually make constructive conversation. I’m still at that stage where I’m in the fog of preconceived notions. I can hear the rustling of the branches in the trees outside of the fog of the gigantic philosophical monster that I know is out there (yeah, I watched Jurassic Park recently).

I guess my answer to, “is it just an abstraction?” would have to be…maybe? The scientific approach to color seems to be that it is a light wave…or particle? I can’t be both, but regardless, if it was a wave or particle then it would take up space, yes?

Particle wave duality is not really important to time, at least relativity anyway, one thing at a time.:wink:

Alot of people struggle or think they are dumb because relativity doesn’t instantly make sense, but once you start thinking about it to an extent and with good knowledge it becomes graspable not a bugbear. That said if you have any questions ask the experts on forums such as, I’m no expert, I know how it works but relativity is an area that troubles many people.

It’s nice to see you are interested anyway, but don’t believe this is the most difficult subject in physics, it isn’t. Also don’t believe gurus with massive brains who live in ivory towers drive physics, they don’t, if you put the effort in, and are really interested any person can get an understanding, unless they are really stupid, and most people aren’t. :wink:

In depth no, maths will be necessary there, but a good deal of physics is also conceptual. The maths helps but sometimes you can forgo it, in fact for things like wave-particle duality it is not all that important as the conceptual issues, at least at a fairly basic level.

Yes you can have pink by itself, perhaps that’s all colour is ~ itself, and we then designate it to colour frequencies. In other words; colour is purely perceptual, it doesn’t really ’exist’ in the physical world its just that our minds read the signals derived of light frequencies, then according to shape of the sine-wave attributes a colour to that.

So now we may again ask; what is colour!

Now we have removed it from the physical world, we could say it is like information or symbols, shapes etc, such things don’t exist physically. Equally I wouldn’t say those things are composed of ‘mind’ or consciousness ~ what would that even mean? it appears we have three sets of things in the world:

0 {Reality}

  1. Non-physical phenomenon-a; Information, colour, symbols, shapes.
  2. Non-physical phenomenon-b; mind, consciousness, knowing/knowledge, experience [e.g. the experience of all 3].
  3. Physical phenomenon; matter, motion, QM.

Somehow there are things like colour and consciousness that just kinda happen when information requires them to. I’d go so far as to sat the same for matter etc {3} too.

In fact the only thing that is real is reality itself, existence [1,2,3], consciousness, god and everything you can think of are comparative [or actual] illusions.

Are you still dreaming? :slight_smile:

There’s nothing really there that they’re “in”, but we have to come up with something conceptual (we call it “space” and “time”) in order to talk about and analyze the positions of objects relative to each other and the rates at which they change/move.

I’m not sure I understand the question. Objects can take any position in space independently of the time (that’s what makes them dimensions). It has little to do with observers.

Though not objects themselves, colors are, by definition, properties belonging to objects. Ergo, you cannot have color unless it is on an object (or at the very least, taking up some area of space). Either way, they “inheret” positions in space and time.

Actually, it can.

Yes, but not a precisely defined space. Just as waves in water, the waves of particles “taper off” the father you get from the particle. There’s no crisp boundaries to the space they take up. Such waves can be spread relatively widely, in which case it seems more wave-like, or it can be concentrated into a more narrow region, in which case it seems more particle-like.

Gib, does color exist without a receptor? If color exists without a receptor, does it take up space? IOW, does a ‘thing’ always radiate it’s color wave and particles, or do they exist only when they can be perceived? There are animals that can’t ‘see’ color. Is the color there anyway?

No. There is only color when it is perceived. It nevertheless remains a property of objects.

LSD gives you colour that doesn’t arrive from the visual sense ~ via the eyes. At most such colour derives from signals - and not light waves - in the visual cortex.

We can then ask; where is colour within the context of electrical signals, in much the same way as we can ask the same about light frequencies?

My conclusion is that if you get information ’asking’ for colour to exist, then it does exist. Much like mind, consciousness and other qualia, even info itself, many aspects of our world simply exist when required.

I expect they still need physical ~ chemical and EM stimulus in order to occur, but that doesn’t mean they can be reduced down to that or otherwise we’d be able to find them within the objects, which we cannot [are not properties of, but relate to ~ which means they are somehting other than].

By way of a simplifying maneuver, if asked directly to consider the issue all would readily agree that colours, sounds, and sensations are mental phenomena produced by the human body, and the human body alone - usually when stimulated in this way or that.

From this vantage point, the experimental (rather than experiential) theory-world of the physicist truly contains no sound, no colour, no scent and no sense.

In pure format physics, experience is replaced with commeasuration - the use of arbitrarily chosen yardsticks to describe both the qualities and the quantities of the world, seemingly bypassing perception and the human entirely. Whether or not this is at bottom self-delusion has always been an open question in the philosophy of Science.



…but when we say it is mental or of the body, what do we then mean. colour is still somehting other than those things irrespective of weather or not it needs them to exist.

I would disagree the only way a colour has any definitive existence other than any other wavelength in the EM spectrum is when it is perceived, then and only then can an observer define it as a colour, otherwise it’s just a wavelength of photons. In the same way sound does not exist without an observer or listener, sound relies on an “intelligence” to define it. There is no property that we called sound or colour outside of perception, both are intimately defined by perception. Yes both wavelengths exist without an observer, but by definition sound cannot be sound until perceived and likewise colour. Semantic but important.