[lit-ideas] Re: Hume's Missing Shade of Blue

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 01 Jul 2009 19:12:04 -0700

JL writes (and quotes RP)

But surely there's no way to prove that the experiment works. I would need to wait for K. Trogge's description of the missing shade (of blue). And in any case, why would I trust that that shade is the same as R. Paul _says_ the T-shirt is?

So, if the color of this shade is no different from other shades of blue, in that it could be directly perceived through the senses, Mr. [Trogge] need not use his imagination to see it—only his eyes.

I _see_.

Hume's words are deceiving. There is no _single_ shade of blue that is the missing shade. Any shade of blue may be missing from a color chart that ranges from the darkest to the lightest shade, so any shade may turn out to be a missing shade: there will be a long disjunctive list of 'shades,' and whether a certain one is 'missing' is in the eye and the imagination of the beholder.

So, there cannot be a missing shade of blue until one has found it to be missing. Even Mr. Troegge cannot tell from looking at his prize garment if it's one of the missing ones, let alone _the_ missing one. Only by examining Hume's original chart, which is in the Mutton archives, can this be known.

How to get out of this predicament is a second-order philosophical problem; but not for everyone.

Robert Paul,
trying to be helpful.
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