Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Color Conundrum

A few years ago, somebody confronted me with an odd concept. “What if colors were different for everybody?” he said. “What if what you think is blue, I think is red, but we just call it the same because that’s what we’ve been taught to call it? Nobody could ever know!” At first I was skeptical, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right. Since nobody can enter another’s conscious, or see things through another’s eyes, each us could associate different colors with the same word. My eyes could perceive an object in a different shade than your eyes perceive it, but since birth we would both have been taught at a young age that the color of that object was a certain word, we would associate those different shades with the same word. So for instance, we all know grass is green. Since birth, we’ve been taught to associate the color of grass with the word green. But what if the color you associate with the word green is different from the color I associate with the word green? What if I could hop into your brain and see things through your eyes, and found that what you call green, I call pink? Nobody could ever tell, because we’d both gesture to the same grass and we’d both call it green, but we’d still perceive it differently. Weird, huh?

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