"New" colours possible?

Tore Lund tl001 at online.no
Fri Jan 25 04:00:43 EST 2002

"Mark A. Helms" wrote:
> GuilfoyleMR at cardiff.ac.uk (Mathew Guilfoyle) wrote in message news:<4b9ea6a.0201070435.742d3da4 at posting.google.com>...
> > The range of colours that we perceive has obviously been of some use
> > in our evolution.  The fact that we have not come to separate the
> > visible specturm into thirty different colours has a reason.  Your
> > question as to whether we can 'see' new colours glosses over some
> > major philosophical questions such as qualia.
> Well...
> Thank you for bringing up the word "qualia", despite your apparent
> discomfort  with the concept. Everyone - however acute their insights
> thusfar - have failed to acknowledge that we're dealing with human
> subjectivity here, manifested in the innate creativity of the brain in
> formulating internal mappings of external phenomena. In essence, we're
> talking about qualia.

Where do you draw the line between internal and external phenomena? 
AFAIK the 3D color space is fairly well explained by the three types of
cones and the way they are wired to ganglion cells.  And if this is
true, there is very little our brains have to add in the form of
"creativity" in order to make "internal mappings".  

In any case, if you see a place for creativity in our internal mapping
of colors, it would be interesting to hear what it is supposed to
accomplish and why you see a need for it.  If the signals from the
retina already have a 3D color structure, this leaves little room for
the notion of qualia as something distinct from sensory input.

Presumably, perception is always something more sophisticated than raw
sensation, but I wonder if/how the two differ in the case of colors.

The one element that I miss in this discussion is some recognition of
the fact that we see colors as "pure" (red, green, yellow, blue) versus
"mixed" (all the others).  This might be the thing we need to understand
better in order to answer the question about whether "new" colors are

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