G.E. Moore’s View on Colors in Sense Data

25 Oct

I finally am going to begin to write more on here, as from here on out I will gradually have more time.

I am writing a paper about the absence of colors in material objects as another inference to not rely on our senses, and i am using G.E. Moore’s paper Introduction of Sense Data. There is a part where he discusses the three characteristics of sense data: color, size, and shape. He has different conclusions on each one, but the color is what I am interested in for my paper’s purposes.

To jump right into it, G.E. Moore states that color is the only one of the three things that can be thought to be a part of the material object that sets forth the sense data. Moore begins his discussion in the paper about the envelope and how everybody in different places of the room see a different color and a different image. The question that this poses is are all of those of the same envelope (along with other inferences and questions). “The colour might be supposed to occupy a part of that volume occupied by the envelope- one of its bounding surfaces” there after that is an indicator of a footnote, ” I should now say that any part of the surface of a volume is not a part of that volume, because it is not itself a volume” (Moore).  Moore discusses mainly the presupposition that colors seen in objects exist as a part of the object that it is sensed with. The envelope (a material object) occupies a volume, and it is thought that the color of the envelope is a part of the volume of the whole volume that the envelope occupies. The footnote to the sentence states that a surface of a volume is not a volume anyway, so its not a part volume of the whole volume. So, if a color is seemed to be a part of a material object, how can it be a part if the surface is not a part of the volume? If I look at a yellow marker, I cannot prove that the marker is yellow, just that it looks yellow to me at that time and place.

Moore continues by stating the many different colors that one may see in one object, like the envelope.  One holds it in the air in front of 10 people. Because of the light shining in from the windows,  the fluorescent bulbs on the ceiling, a slice of white light from the projector, and the shadows of people in the front row, let us say that the envelope being shown is exhibiting 9 different shades of yellow. Moore wonders (like others) if all of these colors are a part of the envelope. Moore thinks this not impossible, but highly unlikely. These 9 shades of yellow would not be able to be a part of one small object, in my opinion. If all 10 people in the room switched seats where each person sat in a general vicinity of the room, one shade of yellow would seem to move, and another shade of yellow would move to the spot of the envelope you immediately see. Moore does well in this part of the paper to prove that colors are not a part of the object they are seen in. My aim for the paper I plan on writing is to say that there aren’t any colors in reality at all, and colors are just manifestations of what our minds make of the real world.

One might also think that particles or atoms within an object make something the color that it is. Going back to my yellow marker, there are dyes in the plastic that encapsulate the sponge full of yellow ink. Dyes in objects being particles within it do not put color in objects. Dyes are particles within objects that merely change the way the object looks when certain kinds of light are reflected off it. A red dye being put in something only is done to make red appear when a few kinds of light are reflected off it.

My conclusion from all of this is that visual sense data is the most misleading thing one can rely on. I once was talking to an old instructor of mine from high school who was not discussing philosophy of any kind just certain kinds of photons in light. He said he went into a clothing store to get a few pairs of socks. Going into the store he sees a few pairs of socks he decides to purchase, and recognizes they are black ( the label of the socks were not big and he did not read the label at all). He buys them, walks outside and sees that he has purchased unwanted blue socks. So, are the socks black or blue? You can crap out some science about dies, spectra, photons, and other things but this instance disproves the idea that material objects have colors in them. Yes, its all light reflecting off particles in objects and dyes within objects, but for a simple color test put a bright object on the ground, like a yellow highlighter marker, make sure bright lights are on in the room, and stand over the marker so your shadow is over it. The color the marker now has is a dull darker yellow, that is not bright like it once was. Once again, without this silly test, turn all of the lights off and hold the marker, the marker is not yellow, but black. This I think is enough to say that material objects have no color in them.

In Moritz Schlick’s Structure and Content essay, in the section Inexpressibility of Content, Schlick states that one could not convey what green is to a blind man. A person with sight can see the many colors, but try to talk to someone and explain what yellow is. Yellow is the next color lighter than green. Whats green? It looks like the color of a frog? What color is a frog? and so on. The fact that we cannot express content (i.e. color) is good evidence to say that sense data is local, and often personal to small groups, or even 1 person. If sense data, and more specifically color, is so local how can it be real? When I discuss real, I mean discerning color from things like size and shape (referring back to Moore). If I was talking to a blind man like Schlick, and I wanted to tell him about this huge block of cheddar cheese in the Big House (Michigan stadium in Ann Arbor, MI), I could say there is a huge rectangle 100 feet high, and 24 feet wide,  I could firmly draw the skinny rectangle on paper for the blind man to feel. He would feel the lines connecting and eventually envision a large skinny rectangle. Knowing, that there is a large skinny rectangle on the football field, I could not tell him it is orange. Even if he gained sight right there, he might see a light orange, while I see a darker shade. The way visual sense data is local like it is always I think makes it: 1) not a part of material objects, and 2) ambiguous in all forms of trying to define and explain it. Even if I say orange, one might ask, what shade. Then that person might say, that looks yellower to me. All of this means that there is no color in objects (or at all) , and what color people observe in sense data is ambiguous in the strictest sense of the word.

This is all granted that there are material objects anyway, which I also plan to address.

Thanks for the support. Tell me what you think, are there true colors in material objects?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: