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What Colour Was That?

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posted on May, 9 2010 @ 01:58 AM
This is something I have discussed with my friends before but it could get a few different perspectives here I gather.

How do you know that you see the same colours as everyone else?

I don't mean classic colour blindness, as that is completely different to what I mean.

I mean how do you know that red to you is not what the person next to you sees as your blue?
And what you call blue is what the person on the other side sees as your purple?

In essence we have all been taught this colour is called this and this colour is called that, but how can you ever truly know that what you and the person teaching you are one and the same thing visually.

I will give an example.

If when you are growing up being taught the colours you will see what I call red. However in your eyes it is what I call blue. You will then call it red your whole life and not be wrong. Because everyone calls it the same thing.

It is a meaningless thought I know but just wanted new perspective on the matter.

It is simply a game to talk about interpretation and perspective and how what you see and agree with someone about what you saw may not in essence be the same visually.


posted on May, 9 2010 @ 02:03 AM
This is one of the first out of the box things i thought when i was young.. who knows right.. as everyone is completely different i would assume this is true.

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 02:12 AM
reply to post by pablos

Dear pablos

I have always wondered exactly the same thing. However I have never talked about it.

We may indeed see the same frequency of light as a different colour. But indeed know it as red for instance. I am sure some boffin will give us the answer.

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 02:19 AM

This how I learned my red from my blue.

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 02:33 AM
It's really irrelevant, since 99.999% of us agree on which color is called what. We're all the same species after all, (As far as we know...
) so unless we have a world-wide incident like the biblical tower of babel, but visual instead of linguistic, we're all on the same page.

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 02:54 AM
reply to post by pablos

Good point and one I've considered. Its like asking "what does chicken taste like"

Its all in ones perspective..
BTW on a side note...Its like the guy that taught his dog to sit when he said drop, and drop when he said sit. Makes for a nice circus act but shows perspective..

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 02:58 AM
reply to post by Pauligirl

While humourous I think you missed the point.

If you see the purple crayon as purple but my mind sees it as blue, we cannot tell if each other sees differently as we have been trained to recognise it as purple through years of education. It is merely an exercise to open and clear one's mind through a simple thought problem.

I do like a smartarse though.

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 03:38 AM
That's funny, I used to think about the same thing as kid. Perception of color. Is my perception of green the same as your perception of green (or any color, really)?

Anyway, I'll try and explain chromatics and while this may not answer your question definitively, it will give you some insight or shed some light on the subject (pun intended). I'm certainly not an expert on the subject but I'll do my best to solve this puzzle.

For objects that reflect light, rather than emit light, the color depends on the surface properties of the object and the perception of the eye and brain. For objects that emit light, the color not only depends on the characteristics mentioned above, but also the frequency of the electromagnetic radiation (or light) that is being emitted.

When electromagnetic radiation (or light) has a wavelength from around 400nm to 750nm, humans percieve it as visible light and the color depends on the actual wavelength. The shorter the wavelength, the "bluer" (or violet) the light is while the longer wavelengths are red. In between the blue and red wavelengths, is yellow. On the ends of the light spectrum, you have both infrared and ultraviolet with the former having the longest wavelength and latter having the shortest (far ultraviolet). There are many theories as to why the different wavelengths are the colors that they are but for brevity's sake and due to the extremely complicated subject matter, I'll digress.

If we can understand the physics of color, we can then move on to how each of us actually perceives these colors. Perception of color, is as perception of anything else. That is, how the brain interprets what it is receiving. In this case, it is the eye that is sending the colors to the brain, so let's take a look at the human eye. The human eye is trichromatic, meaning that the retina has three different cells or cones to interpret light and each cone is sensitive to a different wavelength of light (color). The brain however, interprets these signals from the eye through three opponent channels, each constructed from the output of the cones in the retina.

We can further assume that since my retina and your retina have the same construct of cones and they are both relatively identical, as far as chemical and structural make-up (assuming that you don't have abnormalities or disabilities), we can conclude that my perception of green is the same as your perception of green and so on. So, knowing what we now know about how the brain processes light from the retina and how color is the result of the differing wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation and adding those with the fact that the average eye is of similar or identical construction, we can conclude that we all pretty much perceive colors in the same way.


Edited because I mistyped "is".

[edit on 9-5-2010 by airspoon]

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 03:44 AM
Here is how I like to think of it.

Red, orange, yellow, etc, fall into the "warm" category. It's not just about the color of the color, its about the feeling one gets from it. Think of these colors as related to the sun, and fire, which are bright things.

Blue, purple, etc, fall into the "cool" category. These are colors one associates with nighttime, the ocean, and relaxation possibly

Remember, this is just my opinion. But I believe it makes sense.

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 03:54 AM
I wonder if there's a base color in the universe that no human has ever seen before. We can't imagine it since it would be so foreign to our minds.I have a feeling that's impossible, but still, something to think about and get a headache over.

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 03:59 AM
It is what it is- doesn't matter what you call it, or what name people put on it.

Sure, people might perceive colors differently to others- but the color will always be what it is- so it all boils down to perception.

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 04:13 AM
reply to post by pablos

We must agree on labels for colors in order to function. The label isn't really important as long as it is used consistently.

So, what we see as Blue could be called Purple, as long as everyone calls it Purple.

You also could call a dog a cat, as long as everyone else does and is on the "same page."

Now, ever think about what would happen if you swapped some labels like god for devil?

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 04:30 AM
reply to post by glitchinmymatrix

If we swapped labels like God and Devil I would be pretty happy.

Some ancient forms of christianity believed similarly to this. One school of thought is that everything physical is evil, and one must free themselves of all physical and material possessions to be considered good.

Others thought that God is one with everything in a true style of omnipresence.
With that in mind then God is one with the Devil. Therefore either the Devil is good and part of God so is therefore meaningless, or God being one with the Devil is evil and cannot be completely perfect.

Back then many died for expressing such thought which goes to show despite how it does sometimes seem we are in a much better place now.

For more on these thoughts look into Nestorianism, Gnosticism and the ancient Christian scholars of the near east.


posted on May, 9 2010 @ 04:46 AM
Heylo - I know exactly what you mean - I also wonder about it every now and then.

What you're refering to is called 'qualia' - it can be a little difficult to explain but here's some info qualia philosophy

Suffice it to say that what you see as red may be purple to me but I've been raised to call it surely is an interesting concept.

More info;

what is....

this one's interesting



posted on May, 9 2010 @ 05:56 AM
Yeah....questions like this have been bugging me for a the last while. What got me thinking about it was people who are born blind, people who have never seen anything(at least not in the usual way people see), never mind seen colors. Traditionally it is assumed that these people live in a world of total darkness, no lights, no shapes, no colors, just a uniform blackness. How do we know that it's a blackness? It could be a uniform redness, or pinkness or it might not be uniformly colored at at all. There's no way to know, as we cannot see what blind people see, and it's no use asking them what color they see as they've never seen colors in the first place so there's no basis for comparison. Blind people could be walking around in a world that's not dark but totally bright. Sort of like when you give your head a nice whack and you see "stars" and the world sort of goes super bright and you can't see any colors, just whiteness. Or maybe for blind people the world is a field of purple and green paisely. Who knows?

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 06:07 AM
For that matter, do you think that each of your eyes is really seeing the same amount and intensity of color, or is your brain adjusting and compensating for the different # of rods/cones in them?

Depending on the light source, location, time of day, vision, etc., I'll bet that many people actually see different (albeit it slight) variations in color from each eye, but the brain does a good job of smoothing out the differences so that we really don't notice.

I've noticed some colors appear subtly different from eye to eye. I'll bet that these differences are very common between people, but the prior posts are correct - it doesn't matter unless you could display what you are seeing on a screen to compare!


posted on May, 9 2010 @ 06:08 AM
wow cool threed cool

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 06:09 AM

Originally posted by star in a jar
I wonder if there's a base color in the universe that no human has ever seen before. We can't imagine it since it would be so foreign to our minds.I have a feeling that's impossible, but still, something to think about and get a headache over.

I imagine there is a base color, not so much 'in' the universe but 'of' the universe. It's no so much a color that we've never seen before, quite the opposite, we see it everyday. It's for want of a better term the color of Invisibility. It's the basis for all other colors. We never recognize it because either it's coated by other colors or in it's natural pure state it is invisible.

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 06:16 AM
Forget about do we see the same colors, when it comes down to it one has got to ask do we all see the same shapes, the same sizes, the same universe? And what about sounds, smells, taste, etc? It's just possible that what I see, hear, smell and taste is something completely different than what others are seeing or hearing.

posted on May, 9 2010 @ 08:03 AM
I'm sure not everybody sees color the same way.

My father was what you call, "color blind," and he had to have my mom be sure to match his socks up for him all the time.

If my mom was ever away on vacation, or not around when my father got dressed for work, it wasn't uncommon for him to wear a navy blue sock with a brown one, or a black sock with a green one.

A lot of colors all looked the same to him.

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