Inverted Qualia

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Hellbound Hellhound

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In philosophy, a long debate has persisted around the relationship between the individual and the external world, with conclusions ranging from direct realism, to metaphysical subjectivism, all the way to solipsism. An individual's cognitive experience of the world surrounding them is typically defined as their qualia, with each individual "quale" supposedly being unique to each individual.

Or is it?

John Locke once put forward the following thought experiment: suppose that you were to wake up one morning, and suddenly, everything that was red is now green, and everything that was green is now red. Would you be able to explain this in objective terms? Suppose the following morning you were hit on the head, and suffered amnesia. Would you be able to discern that anything was wrong with your perception of colour? Suppose your perception of colour reverted back to normal in the trauma. Could this possibly be known to you?

It has been proposed by some that the qualia between different people could be radically different (Perhaps the way I perceive white is the way you perceive black, and vice versa?). Others have raised objections to this suggestion, proposing that these sorts of differences in qualia could be objectively discernable. Academic philosopher C. L. Hardin argues the following:
there are more perceptually distinguishable shades between red and blue than there are between green and yellow, which would make red-green inversion behaviorally detectable. And there are yet further asymmetries. Dark yellow is brown (qualitatively different from yellow), whereas dark blue is blue[...] Similarly, desaturated bluish-red is pink (qualitatively different from saturated bluish-red), whereas desaturated greenish-yellow is similar to saturated greenish-yellow. Again, red is a "warm" color, whereas blue is "cool"—and perhaps this is not a matter of learned associations with temperature.

Another question which may be worth asking is the question of whether or not colour is truly invertable. We can certainly invert colours digitally, but in these instances, all we're really doing is taking a simple set of three-way inputs, and flipping them around. It isn't clear to me that our brains interpret colour in quite this fashion, and this raises an important question about whether or not there could be an objective reason for why we perceive colours the way we do, and that this perception is fairly uniform across individuals.

Thoughts?
 

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Obviously there's some degree of uniformity to perceiving colors, otherwise we wouldn't be able to perceive them!
What if color isn't real? What if nothing has any color and color is a phenomenon unique to the eyes of certain creatures of planet earth resulting from the photo-chemical reaction in our eyes we evolved to better make sense of the light reflecting off of surfaces by being able to better distinguish the different visible wavelengths of light? What if everything is as colorless as outer-space?
 
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Boris Blank's glass eye

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You never stated whether you were asking for input about the concept or the example you've given.
What if color isn't real? What if nothing has any color and color is a phenomenon unique to the eyes of certain creatures of planet earth resulting from the photo-chemical reaction in our eyes we evolved to better make sense of the light reflecting off of surfaces? In reality what if everything is as colorless as outer-space?
Anthropic principle.

If I wanted to give some kind of philosophical wank-fest of an answer, it would be "what difference does it make, if we do observe their existence?". Kind of the same way the apparent non-existence of a single deity doesn't matter to a fundamentalist.
 

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This is not pertinent to the conversation as you're invoking the outside world. Qualia concerns itself with our subjective experiences, wherein colors preside.
But its all related. What validity does our subjective experience hold if we know its doctored by our physiology? Does a color-blind man who cannot experience color at all experience the world more truly than the man who is not?
 

Icasaracht

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But its all related. What validity does our subjective experience hold if we know its doctored by our physiology? Does a color-blind man who cannot experience color at all experience the world more truly than the man who is not?
Aside from those that are at the fringes of the Philosophy of Mind, most opine that our subjective experiences (or Qualia if you like) are not reducible to its physio-chemical wellsprings. From this line of thought, it follows that we can discuss our Quales as emergent properties in their own right. "Validity" of such is beside the point, and experiencing the world "more truly" with or without colors is, like, your opinion, man.
 

wtfNeedSignUp

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Wasn't the "what if your red is my green" a meme of shitty philosophy questions? Anyways percievable color is a specific bandwidth our eyes can recognize and the question can be done for basically every sensory organ you have. The very simple answer is that, unless you believe everyone besides you is an NPC, reality exist regardless of your ability to interact with it.
 

Hellbound Hellhound

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You never stated whether you were asking for input about the concept or the example you've given.

Either would be fine by me.

Obviously there's some degree of uniformity to perceiving colors, otherwise we wouldn't be able to perceive them!

Perhaps, or perhaps not.

One could argue that if the ability to identify and discriminate between colours was unaffected by a difference in how they're consciously felt, then it wouldn't matter if the way that two people perceived said colours was systematically different. A person who saw red as green and vice versa would theoretically be able to follow traffic lights with the same ease as everyone else; the function and the vocabulary would be the same, even though the perception would be radically different.

This, of course, is just one view, and perhaps rests upon the assumption that our perception of colour is necessarily arbitrary. I'm not convinced of this view, because there are certain ways that we respond to colour which don't seem to be learned or cultural. If I walk into a room which is painted dazzlingly yellow, for example, after awhile, I am going to want to leave the room due to the visual assault that such a colour tends to exert upon you. The same is not true for the inverse of this colour (sky blue).

This is where we get back to two questions I raised earlier: 1) Does the way that we consciously perceive colour exist the way it does for a reason, and 2) Can two colours really be the inverse of one another?

We can invert the colour of an image both photochemically and digitally, but this process is governed by rules which may not apply to the human brain. We already know the limitations of digital imagery, because for a long time it lacked the dynamic range and highlight runoff capabilities of film, let alone the human eye.

Perhaps the best way to illustrate this by way of a practical example would be to mention painting. Artists have for a long time known that black tends to drown out colour in a way that white does not, which would seem to indicate that somebody who saw black as white and vice versa would vary significantly in their ability to discriminate between colours.

There does remain, however, a big question about whether these sorts of differences in perception could truly be empirically verifiable.
 

Boris Blank's glass eye

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Either would be fine by me.
In that case, I'd say there's a consensus reality. "We all" agree on what certain terms and symbols mean, what certain things and concepts are, et cetera. However, even if two people were to come to the same conclusion, their way of arriving at that conclusion can differ wildly.
IMO this can be observed best in subjects like mathematics - even if the numbers and the operators are the same for every student, their internal logic processes them differently, and no two students will be exactly as good at any given branch.

Personal example: I could never get my head around descriptive geometry, however, my technical drawings - which are supposedly built upon descriptive geometry - were perfect. Some of my classmates had the opposite of this problem: while they passed descriptive geometry with flying colours, they failed technical drawing.

TL;DR: in my experience, people process the same information differently.