Friday, June 11, 2004


Once I was chatting with my brother. We wondered if what I 'see' as green is same as what he 'sees' as green. We were all shown a particular colour (which we may perceive differently) and were taught the name of that colour. So, we all agree on what's green, for example. But, how do we perceive 'green'? What I perceive as green may be perceived by you as the equivalent of my 'blue'. How do we find out if our previous hypothesis is true or not? At that point of time we were not aware of Godel's incompleteness theorem; we almost reinvented it (though the essence of the theorem has been around for a long time in the metaphor 'kiNatruth thavaLai', a frog in a well).

Later, I suggested that if ever there's a poet who can describe the colours in a way even a person born blind can differentiate, then we can test the hypothesis by making the poet describe the colours (essentialy the poet's own perception) and we test if it matches our perception. Little did we realise then that, for this to be possible, either the poet has to break the incompleteness or colour of light should not be an orthogonal property (one which can't be expressed in terms of other properties). With my creative skill level at absolute zero, I am still wondering if someone who's blessed with such poetic skills can ever confirm or deny this fact ...

Besides colour is just another instance of human perception ...


Blogger Sanjeeth said...

If this "illusion" is in fact true(But you cant even prove that from within), then I think this is the only means of making two human minds to agree on a point.

June 14, 2004 11:31 am  
Blogger Sundar said...

Yes, Sanjeeth. If this is possible, a shared mind protocol(similar to a shared coin) for consensus can be implemented! Think of the possibilities, a solution to Indo-Pak conflicts, Cauvery row, Middle East conflicts, Sri Lankan imbroglio etc. Hmm..

June 14, 2004 12:26 pm  
Blogger Sanjeeth said...

Ya...Theoritically the protocol would work. But the problem is neither parties in all these problems are working towards a consensus. All are Byzantine ;)!
I think we are moving this post into a Distributed Algorithm course :) . After such a long time and through blogs!

June 14, 2004 5:50 pm  
Blogger Perspicuity said...

this is stranded...Funny happening. we've both stated the same thing...diff colours though. i dont see how a poet with all his prowess could establish the fact that colours are objective. again he would see one colour and describe in depth about it and the sort of emotions it elicits, but it probably does the same with me, but i see it differently.
Science and tech can possibly provide the soln.

June 16, 2004 2:14 pm  
Blogger Perspicuity said...

another coincidence...i just came across godel's incompleteness theorem.
what is it about?...

June 16, 2004 2:20 pm  
Blogger Sundar said...

Perspicuity, I'd talked about a hypothetical poet who could describe colours to a blind person(meaning describing a colour in terms of other attributes). If this were possible we can cross check if our perception of colour is same or not. Take for example, if a colour can be expressed in terms of Mass(just for example sake), then a poet on seeing Blue can say it's heavy and suppose in my perception the colour appears to be the 'yellow' of the poet, then I would see it as 'light'. So, we know that our perceptions differ.

As for science, using some cerebral electrical signals may be we can deduce if there is a difference.

June 16, 2004 2:27 pm  
Blogger Sundar said...

Godel's hypothesis tells that the basic axioms or 'assumptions' about a system can not be verified within the ambit of the system.

June 16, 2004 2:29 pm  
Blogger Anthroponym said...

As expected, here is a post talking Godel.

Anyway, We percieve wavelengths, which we have named as colors. For ppl who suffer Daltonism, some colors are indistinguisable, would the hypothetical poet still work out. I think yes!
Can the same be said of numbers also? Why must "1" represent one and not two. It is also just a matter of practice, like color naming. Right?

June 18, 2004 3:11 pm  
Blogger Ambar said...

This colour perception issue has been debated from Newton's time apparently. I have to agree with you that there's a large degree of subjectivity thanks to perception differences. Again, are these innate or acquired colour perceptions? The wavelength differences only matter to our eyes. The next stage in the brain is where the subjectivity will enter.
Definitely, two people would agree on what constitutes "blue" to some degree only because they've been conditioned to do so from childhood.

June 19, 2004 5:10 pm  
Blogger Ambar said...

Describing color of light in terms of other properties? Let's assume that color is dependent on wavelength. So the problem of communicating colour information to a blind person boils down to communicating wavlength information.
Now, I would say that wavelength of light is so fundamental a property that all other things like sound, action etc.. would be completely describable in terms of light of certain wavelengths and it intensity. Hence, ultimately our uber-poet would be describing colour in terms of wavelength, directly or indirectly. The catch here, is wavelength objective or subjective?

June 19, 2004 5:19 pm  
Blogger mprabhu said...

i also like to put forth a kind of explanation.

well, i strongly believe that everything existing & happening is based on energy.

every body, reacts to changes in energy.

in the case of colour, the mere transfer of energies from light form to chemical form happens , this transformation is similar to that happening in a torch light with a dc battery, the strength of light varies directly with the strength of energy trans..

so any human, consider as a mass, reacts to these energies,light, sound,etc.
and to substantiate my views, consider the colour therapy, emotions controlled or altered by colour.
from this we could assume that the colours ,whoever, sees it is perceived by its energy.

that`s all i could guess.


July 28, 2004 11:27 pm  

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