I have a story somewhat similar to Julie's, but a bit more embarrassing. Many years ago I bought matching sheets and pillowcases. A few years later, after I was married, my wife asked me where the pillowcases were that matched the purple sheets. I said that I didn't have any purple sheets, and that the blue pillowcases (that SAID they were blue on the packaging) were the ones that went with those blue (not purple) sheets. Much to my amazement, she started to laugh and asked me how many people had seen my very purple sheets and my very blue pillowcases and had not said anything about my tastes in bedroom decor. I declined to answer.
But up to 10% of males are colorblind to some degree or other. The most common is red/green, but as purple involves red, it also extends to purple/blue on occasion. I usually try to tell people what it's like to be moderately color blind. When most people rummage around in their sock drawer to match a blue or a brown pair, it usually involves taking them out of the drawer and placing them a bit closer to some light source. At some indeterminate distance from that light source, normal eyes can clearly see a difference in color. But for me, I have to take the socks in question almost all the way to within a few inches of a light bulb before I see the difference, and THEN I can match the socks. So I DO see the difference, but it is much more muted than the difference most people notice.
Another story about color-blindness and art: I was in the large Vancouver BC museum a few years ago and they had a show of Roy Lichtenstein's paintings. He's the "pop" art painter who used half-tone dots of color to represent popular images on canvas. He had a series of three paintings of Rouen cathedral, all modeled after Monet's series, but in different dot patterns. I looked at the first painting: Monet all right. I looked at the second painting: Monet towards dusk. I looked at the third painting: NO CATHEDRAL AT ALL! Just a bunch of dots. I studied the three canvases and sure enough, the colors of the dots in the third painting were precisely those I could not distinguish. For over 90% of the people in the museum, there were three cathedrals, but for me there were only two. I wanted to take a photo of this so that I could show my students how color-blindness works, but when I raised the viewfinder of my digital camera to my eye, much to my amazement a third cathedral suddenly emerged. Looking at it with one eye through the viewfinder and one eye looking at it directly, I could see that the camera had changed the colors of the dots just enough so that I could see the cathedral after all, even though I didn't really think that the image had been changed when I looked through the viewfinder for other images.
By the way: Traffic experts long ago fixed a problem with traffic lights (that I did have before they were fixed) by making the red always on top and the green (which was now always much brighter) on bottom. But website designers still often use the "green" button to click as the approving one and the "red" button as the negative choice, even though I can't see any difference between them by color at all. Federal standards for "accessibility" have changed how web pages should be designed, but I don't think the issue of color-blindness is part of this, even though (as I said) up to 10% of men are color-blind.)
Walter C. Okshevsky wrote:
Yes, specifying the colours serves to focus the question more clearly. But my epistemological conundrum remains. Imagine: What everybody calls and sees as "red," Walter sees as "green" but calls it "red" because everybody else does. And what everybody calls and sees "green" Walter sees and calls "red" because everybody else does. (Go figure, Robert Brandom.) In this scenario, which is logically and empirically possible, there does not seem to be a way of detecting this visual and linguistic discrepancy. But it remains an actual possibility. Perhaps something like Quine's "gavagai" example? Hoping that Dan soon learns you your coulours, Walter P.S. Re Palin/Obama: She's probably thinking she can get Obama to roll his eyes upwards a sufficient number of times during the debate to win it. If it worked for Al Gore vs George W, why not for her? Quoting Julie Krueger<juliereneb@xxxxxxxxx>:Sorry -- sent privately when I intended to send to the list. That seems to be the thing to do today. Julie Krueger Odd. Just today I had a conversational todo when I asked Dan if he liked the new blue sheets. He asked where they were. On the bed. The gray sheets?, he says. No, the blue sheets currently on the bed, says I. I understand there are lots of nuances of colors, hues, shades, tones, and other such vagaries out there. I should have said that I would be surprised if any child two years of age didn't know basic primary and secondary colors -- red, blue, yellow, green, orange, purple. On a totally unrelated note, Palin has challenged Obama to a debate.... I don't even know what to DO with that thought. Julie Krueger
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