Is it at all a possibility for everyone in this world to see different colors

Read another response by Andrew Pessin
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Is it at all a possibility for everyone in this world to see different colors but call them the same name? For example, if someone sees yellow, they call it yellow but another person sees the same color but to them it's green but since we've defined that it's yellow, they go along calling it yellow when really they see green.

This is a wonderful (and classic) question, sometimes referred to as the 'inverted spectrum' thought experiment -- but it turns out that the philosophy of color (and color perception) are far more complicated than one might intuitively think, given our everyday familiarity with and intuitions about colors ... The short, easy answer to your question is of course yes: it certainly seems conceivable that different individuals label different color perceptions with the same name (no need to insist on the stronger thesis, as you actually phrase it, that each individual's color perception is different from every other's, is there?). Moreover I believe that, on a simple level, the 'yes' answer has been empirically demonstrated, more or less: different people will identify rather different wavelengths as 'yellow' say (which is strictly neutral on what's going on inside them, but at least suggestive of the 'yes' answer). But one can get very sophisticated here and perhaps build one's way to a 'no' answer, so the best thing to do is get more familiar with the science and philosophy of color. The starting point probably should be C. L. Hardin's famous book "Color for Philosophers" ....

hope that's a useful start ....


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