Philosophy Dictionary of ArgumentsHome
|Inverted Spectra, Philosophy of Mind: A term used to describe a thought experiment showing that we cannot be sure that stimuli (here light wavelengths) will be translated into similar mental states by all subjects. It is possible that a color is not localized at the same place on the color spectrum for all subjects, e.g. in an extreme case one may see something as red which another person considers to be green. Since the use of language is based on both having learned public language, they would use the same word despite their differing subjective experience. See also knowledge how, private language, qualia, skepticism._____________Annotation: The above characterizations of concepts are neither definitions nor exhausting presentations of problems related to them. Instead, they are intended to give a short introduction to the contributions below. – Lexicon of Arguments. |
David Chalmers on Inverted Spectra - Dictionary of Arguments
Inverted Spectra/Consciousness/Chalmers: in order to demonstrate the lack of explainability of our consciousness, it suffices to show the logical possibility of a physical world with our identical world where facts about our conscious experience differ from those in our world. This is about positive facts, not about a lack of facts.
Someone who lives in my world might experience something as blue that I perceive as red. Of course, he would call it "red" just like me. The rest of its color perception would be arranged so that no differences could be noticed.
Explanation: The simplest explanation would be that two of the axes of our three-dimensional color space are interchanged, the red-green axis and the yellow-blue axis. (An enlightening discussion of the human color space can be found in Hardin, 1988(1)). This is not only conceptually consistent and it does not appear to be excluded from neurophysiology either.
HarrisonVsInverted spectra/HardinVsInverted Spectra/Chalmers: (Harrison 1973(2), Hardin 1987(3)): Thesis:
The human color space is asymmetric so that such a reversal is not possible. For example, warm/cold colors associated with different functional roles ("positive", "negative").
1. Nevertheless, nothing is conceptually contradictory in inverted spectra.
2. Instead of an inversion of red and blue, one could assume an inversion of only slightly different color hues (Levine 1991)(4).
There is also no reason why an inversion of the spectrum needs to use only natural colors.
3. (Shoemaker, 1982)(5): Even though our color space is asymmetric, there is no reason to believe that there might be creatures with a symmetric color space that are physically identical to us.
Conceivability/Reductive explanation/Chalmers: if such assumptions are conceivable, this has an impact on the question of the possibility of reductive explanations.
Consciousness: both the conceivability of zombies as well as the one of inverted spectra show that consciousness does not logically supervene on physical facts. At most the existence of conscious experience could be explained reductively, but not the specific character of our experience.
Inverted Spectra/Chalmers: we must exclude the possibility of inverted spectra for functionally isomorphically structured systems.
Inverted Qualia come first in John Locke.
VsChalmers: even materialists argue that the nature of experiences is based on the physiological nature, that is to say, in the case of differently constructed systems (for example, machines).
Inverted Spectra/Schlick (1932)(6): they cannot be ascertained verificationistically. Therefore, there can be no real difference.
ChalmersVsSchlick: this is not sufficient to draw the conclusion that there is no fact here in regard to conscious experiences, namely, because the nature of Qualia is conceptually not linked to behavior. ((s) > nonfactualism).
Invariance Principle/Chalmers: the principle is not shaken by the natural (not only logical) possibility of inverted spectra. It is also not shaken by examples of reorganization, rewiring, etc. (Gert, 1965(7), Lycan 1973(8), Wittgenstein, 1968(9)).
It is also not shaken by kidnapping to a twin earth with a yellow sky. (Block 1990)(10). Here the representations after an acclimatization period will be about yellow. The invariance principle (the preservation of conscious experiences with a changed physical structure of a functionally consistent system) remains.
1. C. L. Hardin, Color for Philosophers: Unweaving the Rainbow, Indianapolis 1988.
2. B. Harrison, Form and Content, Oxford, 1973
3. C. L. Hardin, Qualia and materialism: Closing the explanatory gap. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 48, 1987: pp. 281-98
4. J. Levine, Cool red. Philosophical Psychology 4, 1991: pp. 27-40
5. S. Shoemaker, The inverted spectrum. Journal of Philosophy 79, 1982: pp. 357-81
6. M. Schlick, Positivism and Realism, Erkenntnis 3, 1932
7. B. Gert, Imagination and verifiability. Philosophical Studies 16, 1965: pp. 44-47
8. W. G. Lycan, Inverted spectrum. Ratio 15, 1973: pp. 315-19
9. L. Wittgenstein, Notes for lectures on "private experience" and "sense data". Philosophical Review 77, 1968
10. N. Block, Invereted earth, Philosophical Perspectives 4:53-79 (1990)_____________Explanation of symbols: Roman numerals indicate the source, arabic numerals indicate the page number. The corresponding books are indicated on the right hand side. ((s)…): Comment by the sender of the contribution. Translations: Dictionary of Arguments The note [Concept/Author], [Author1]Vs[Author2] or [Author]Vs[term] resp. "problem:"/"solution:", "old:"/"new:" and "thesis:" is an addition from the Dictionary of Arguments. If a German edition is specified, the page numbers refer to this edition.
The Conscious Mind Oxford New York 1996
Constructing the World Oxford 2014
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