Originally Posted by unbelragazzo
HF, I may be misreading you, but the idea here is different than the one you propose. It's not that the mapping from wavelengths to names of colors is arbitrary - this much is entirely clear. It's not that my reality is totally different from your reality. We all agree what is "blue". We agree that the sky and the sea and blue M&Ms are roughly the same color, just like roses and blood and the ties that Manton hates are all the same color. There's nothing necessarily "sociological" about this. It's a question of perception technology that we can identify the wavelength of light.
But my interior mental image may represent light at these wavelengths with a different representation than yours
. It would seem very difficult to ever actually have any definitive proof of this being the case or not.
My post directly addresses that precise idea. That's why we have developed a consensus model of reality whereby we can all agree what blue is, regardless of what we actually perceive as blue. That's the only reason my reality is not totally different to your reality. In theory/isolation, it really IS (pace Gattopardo above, and indeed, Wittgenstein ). In practice/culture, we agree on a model that maps our perceptions to equivalent phenomena. We wouldn't even agree on what blue is without that shared concept (?delusion). It's not a new idea (it's just a perceptual spin on "what is truth" and idealism generally), though we are increasingly able to practically identify mechanisms and illustrations for our individual perceptual differences.
I blogged about this issue a week or so ago, when asking the question "what does Coke taste of"? We all perceive the taste of Coke differently/individually, but we also all agree to call it Coke. It's another example of this consensual model of reality that isn't just based on our perceptions, but on how we compare our perceptions to others. That lets us "calibrate" our terminology to mean the same thing, regardless of what we actually perceive neurochemically. If you think about it, given genetic variation and synaptic plasticity, it would be staggeringly, staggeringly UNlikely for us all to perceive a given physical phenomenon in the same way. We just agree on how to describe it.
And even then, not always, when the differences become increasingly marginal. For instance, there's a tribe in the (I think) Amazon that literally can see more shades of green than the rest of us. Because of this, combined with their relative isolation to the rest of the world, they can describe more greens than us. They have both a perceptual ability that we lack AND a different nomenclature to accompany that difference. If you took someone from that tribe and raised them in OUR culture, without exposure to their own, the chances are very high that while they'd continue to see all those extra differences if you tested them, in practice they'd only call them by the shades that the rest of us can name, as they'd be embedded in our version of reality.