Do We Perceive Colors Differently?

I remember, on this board I think but perhaps not, maybe a couple years ago, when I was going by a different name (if I was here at all), there was a thread about this very subject. I remember one fellow who just couldn’t wrap his head around the possibility that we might, it just didn’t make any sense to him. He was also kinda prickish about it, but that’s beside the point.

Just today, as I was stumbling, I happened across an interesting Youtube video on this very topic. Enjoy:


Who were you?

I noticed that my left and right eyes see things slightly differently when I was young.
One eye sees things a bit reddish and the other sees in bluish.

And I do think we may see the world in rosy or blue depending on our mood, although very slightly, possibly because of the oxygen content in the blood cell or other
biological reason (possibly combined with psychological reason).

Other than that, it’s not really about the color, the sharpness (or the edge) and the brightness (and a bit of depth perception) change depending on the state of awareness.

Whoa, I totally forgot, but I used to notice exactly that all the time. One eye’s sight was tinted, so to speak, in a slightly more bluish direction than the other one. I haven’t noticed it in years, I wonder if it’s still there, or if it ever really was there. It might have been only a temporary side effect of one eye getting more light, or more of one color, than the other eye and so they temporarily are adjusted differently from each other, but not a permanent hue shift. Or maybe it is permanent, I suppose I’ll try to find out.

Yeah, by holding one eye shut and then switching to the other, I used to notice that one constantly saw things a slight bit brighter than the other. One eye may have been tinted a bit more red, but I can’t tell or remember now.

Thanks for posting this video. The whole channel seems immensely interesting. Also, I had the exact same dual vision when I was 6 or seven, my left eye had a bit of yellowish tint to it.

I saw that episode it was very interesting.

I am left wondering as per your question, do we ‘perceive’ [as opposed to ’see’] colours the same if given the same/correct information?

No matter what, I saw nothing on the show which suggest we see anything other than the same 7 colours of the rainbow, but just in slightly different shades according to language differences.
If there was anything particularly extraordinary going on here, then there would be no rainbow but a myriad of different colours some that many of us don’t ever see at all.

I hope I am not being obstinate but this is critical to my thinking, a scientist on the show said’ colours don’t exist! :stuck_out_tongue:

Well they are a thereness so they exist, no? just because something doesn’t have particles or forces known to science, it doesn’t give science the right to just come out with stuff like that.


I think, Mr.Quetzy, that when he says “colors don’t exist,” what he is actually saying means something more along the lines of “color categories are fairly arbitrary.” That’s what was shown in the show – we see green and blue as distinctly different because of how we have our categories arranged, the african tribe does not see them as so different; on the flip side, two shades of green that we find nearly indistinguishable, they find drastically different.

“colors” are a mental representation of different wavelengths of light – light does, in fact, have different wavelengths, but the fact that that is represented to us as color is not inherent in reality. as a matter of fact, i’m pretty sure i read somewhere (don’t ask me where) that bat brains utilize color in a different way: to distinguish between texture. For example, something smooth may be purple whereas something like tree bark may be orange, something along those lines.

Maybe so mr flannel, I saw it differently though :stuck_out_tongue:

Either way colours exist weather or not we see them differently if we are given different info about them [naturally]. They are ‘produced’ from a subjective response to sensory input rather than being in the world. Now if colour is not light what is it? What is the mind producing that is colour but is not photonic nor possibly any form of EM?

If you took an axe and cut someone’s head open you would not see a light show of colours, right?

Interesting! Perhaps we can say that colours are ‘sometimes’ representative of wavelengths of light, but as with the bats interpretation of its sensory input, and as language etc can change our interpretation, then really colour is something other than light which can be utilised in many ways though usually its to represent light.

This video has been removed by the user.

Is there anyplace I could find it?

A lot of people are green-red color blind, they simply can’t see the difference between these two colors. Do they see the blending of those two colors? Can they see shades of the blending of those two colors?

Blue + red = purple. Red + yellow = orange. Green is the ‘go’ sign at stop lights. It’s on the top. Red means stop–it’s on the bottom.

Yes, a lot of people see brown rather than primary colors.

In this instance, yes. We perceive colors differently.

Unless a brain is damaged its equipment for interpreting color information is intact and common (at least for humans). Perception, however, is a two-way street, involving both the quality of informational input and the quality of brain interpretation.

This, on the two axis of colour perception (red-green and blue-yellow) There are slight variations in both brute perception and informational sensitivity, but these occur within a broad similarity, the variations are not significant


Yes, some of us do perceive colors differently. Here I’m thinking of the color sighted versus the color blind. Also consider the influence of drugs, nutrition, and psychedelics on color perception… a wide variety there, methinks.

My older brother is red-green color-blind. (He’s the reason for my previous post.) Taking away color-blindness, do we perceive colors differently? Probably. But the differentiation can be very small; therefore, the differences are all lumped together under one label–red is red, blue is blue, etc. Also, primary colors change as the medium changes, because, as the medium (paint, theatrical lighting gels, hair dyes and so on) changes, the light waves perceived by the human eye also changes. The primary colors are different depending on how color is used. Different applications use different primary colors.

What it all comes down to, I guess, is how you see it.

It comes down to what you want the question to mean, or, more accurately, how much you significance you pin on subjective variance.

Colour is generally regarded as being a phenomenally basic fact, to justify this it is usually pointed out that we can’t really explain colour terms in any more basic language in common or psychological discourse in such a way that the sensation of perceiving colour could be understood without already having a grasp of colour itself. What I mean by this is we can talk about wavelengths of light or the neurology of perception, but there is nothing there that tells one how we should perceive colour in our subjective experience of the world.

Why is this important? Because if colour is really such a basic, (metaphorically) atomistic quality of subjective experience, then it is taken that questions or facts about it are basically true of subjective experience itself. Thus, you get Mary ( for example.

So, if you fundamental aspect of our experience of the external world is subjective, then surely our understanding of the external world is fundamentally (and therefore worryingly) subjective?

This is where questions about colour go awry. There are many interesting questions we can ask about perception, such as what exactly is a sense of vision as commonly understood and how, given that different aspects of visual data processed separately and then reconstructed by the brain, a large chunk of visual input as perceived does not come, per se, from the eyes, or how emotionally loaded our experience of colour is and what that says about how much we project in perception, all sorts. However, one that doesn’t really work if we want to talk about actual subjectivism is whether we all experience the same ‘colours’ cause, strictly, we don’t, but it doesn’t matter.

Edit: cleared up the last paragraph a little and
Edit2: added the bit saying what I’d edited

Amen, Phoebus!

In a roomful of painting art students there will be differences in the colors they use and blend to represent the same object: the sky, for example.

These are all interesting ideas…I’ll toss mine on the pile.
I was pondering the other day–as the pigment of any object we perceive to represent color, when it interacts with light, reflects specific wavelengths/frequencies, is it altogether impossible that the pigmentation of irises cause permanent hue shifts between observers? Dark brown irises would absorb a greater breadth of the color spectrum, light blue would reflect more–is this a possibility?