Wednesday, May 27, 2015
Naïve realism and color realism
My granddaughter who was caught in the Nepal earthquake and her group all returned to the US safely. Thanks to all of you who were concerned!!!
My friend John Whiteman asked me to explain the distinction I draw between being a naive realist and being a color realist. Here was my answer:
Briefly, a naive realist thinks that in the case of veridical perception not only do we perceive objective colors (which can mean many things, depending on the particular account of "perception" the philosopher gives), but that the qualia we enjoy in a case of veridical perception are the objective colors, or at least that each objective color has just one color quale that represents it "as it is". At times John McDowell, in Mind and World, seems to me very close to that, except that he wouldn't use the word "qualia" (he does allow "impressions" however, which was Hume's term for sensations). To change the example, a naive realist about shape would have to believe that in the case of a veridical perception of a rectangular table, I would have to have rectangular qualia. I believe there are rectangular tables, but the physical property of rectangularity is quite different from any property of qualia (especially if you take the variably curved spacetime of relativity into account when you talk about physical objects!). Nevertheless, there is a perfectly good sense in which we often perceive the rectangular shape of something (although "the senses" can be fooled about that). I believe that there are green objects (green artifacts, green leaves, green scum) and that they they have a complex, disjunctive, anthropocentric, property in common. And I agree with Tyler Burge that the perceptual system represents that property (although the representations are not qualia, but can be triggered by qualia). And disjunctive anthropocentric properties can correspond to real causal structures. Being an apple is not a natural kind in physics, but it is in biology, recall. Being complex and of no interest to fundamental physics isn't a failure to be "real". I think green is as real as applehood.