Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Favorite Colors

In Philosophy of Mind there's a big problem with unambiguously communicating subjective experiences and qualia. Most people wonder — at some point — "What if the color I call blue is the same thing you see when you say 'green'?" What if everyone has a genetic coin toss at conception that determines whether they are an "invertoid" — seeing every color the as the opposite of what everyone else sees? Or worse, what if we're all "baselined" at some random point on the color wheel? We'd be like compasses, each reporting a different magnetic north, but still equally useful for navigation.

Depending on how passionately philosophical I feel in the moment, sometimes I'll hang my head, sigh, and move on from this problem, other times I'll keep speculating. Yesterday I kept speculating, and imagined a pleasant possibility: maybe we all do see colors differently, and though we all claim to have different favorites, what if we really like the same color, just by different names?

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