[lit-ideas] Re: Can a sweater be red and green all over? No stripes allowed.

  • From: Adriano Palma <Palma@xxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 18 May 2015 19:54:26 +0000

The oxford philosopher is bradwardine

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Subject: [lit-ideas] Re: Can a sweater be red and green all over? No stripes

We are considering:

i. The sky is blue.

-- where the subject (of the sentence) was brought up by Omar K.

In a message dated 5/18/2015 2:49:37 P.M. Eastern Daylight Time,
jejunejesuit.geary2@xxxxxxxxx writes:
Is the sky blue? ... Everything we see we see as the color it is not.
The sky is every color except blue.


This seems right. This philosopher I like (he taught at Oxford for some
time) used to say that

ii. A British pillar box seems red, and it possibly is, but then (+> if you
think of it), literally, a British pillar box is ANYTHING but red.

The same philosopher (who taught at Oxford) used to make fun of Moore (who
taught at Cambridge). Moore had said,

iii. There's a pink hand before my eyes; therefore material objects exists.

But that's hardly conclusive.

As for 'sky', that's not in the Graeco-Roman philosophical lexicon, 'caelum'

And I have to grant the Ancient Romans were confused about it. ("The sky's the
limit" is never used by Cicero in his speeches).

It's from "cavilum", root in "cavus"; cf. Sanscr. "çva-", to swell, be hollow;
Greek "κύω", "κοῖλος". So it's not like we are talking of the stereotypical
Wittgensteinian object in the Tractatus (an apple), or the stereotypical
Tarskian exemplifications (snow is white, grass is green).

Lewis and Short wrote, for Oxonians, a Latin-English dictionary (published by
Oxford University Press), which is sometimes helpful (implicating sometimes
not). They define 'caelum' as:

1) the sky

but also

2) heaven

and surely

iv. The heaven is blue.

sounds harsh.


3) the heavens (as in "Good heavens!" But cfr. the slight harhness to "the good
heavens are blue today, but they might be reddish tomorrow" -- it's all in the


4) the vault of heaven (in Lucrezio, "Della natura delle cose" alone more than
150 times).

On top of that confusion, the Ancient Romans worshipped "Caelus", son of Aether
and Dies, of whom I suppose one could say was 'blue' when sad and red when

The Greeks, who copied a lot from the Romans (after they -- the Romans --
conquered them) translated 'caelum' as 'ouranos'.

Liddell and Scott wrote, for Oxonians, an English-Greek lexicon (published by
Oxford University Press) which is sometimes helpful (+> sometimes not).
They define 'ouranos' as

1) heaven


2) vault or firmament of heaven

3) sky

4) the seat of the gods, outside or above this skyey vault, the portion of Zeus

5) the heavens

6) the universe.

7) a region of heaven and climate.

8) anything shaped like the vault of heaven.

9) vaulted roof or ceiling.

10) roof of the mouth, palate.

11) a tent, or pavilion.

So it's not your stereotypical Kantian ding an sich.

On top of that, copying the Romans, the Greeks personified 'ouranous' with a
capital "O" now, he became:

Uranos, the son of Erebos and Gaia.

And again, we can say that he was blue when he was sad and red when he was
angry (or blushing).

In any case, it does not seem like Husserl was thinking 'sky' when
philosophising about the phenomenology of this dictum he thought 'synthetic a
priori': that colours belong in THINGS.



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