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The Language of Colour: Neurology and the Ineffable

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date12/2012
JournalBiolinguistics
Journal number3-4
Volume6
Number of pages16
Pages475-490
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

It is often claimed, following Joseph Levine, that there is an ‘explanatory gap’ between ordinary physical facts and the way we perceive things, so that it is impossible to explain, among other things, why colours actually look the way they do. C.L. Hardin, by contrast, argues that there are sufficient asymmetries between colours to traverse this gap. This paper argues that the terms we use to characterize colours, such as ‘warm’ and ‘cool’, are not well understood, and that we need to understand the neurological basis for such associations if we are even to understand what is fully meant by saying, for example, that red is a warm colour. This paper also speculates on how Hardin’s strategy can be generalized. A PowerPoint presentation that depicts inverted colour qualia is attached as an appendix.