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Color Cave in the Sea of Synesthesia | by garlandcannon
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Color Cave in the Sea of Synesthesia

This is the proximate (and previous) version of my "Just Close Your Eyes" at

There are advantages/disadvantages to both sepia and the in-your-face colors I have used here. Which do you prefer, in this case at least?


Walk down Memory Lane with Kermit the Frog at


Created for k-play's Jump-n-Tag challenge at


Proximate source: "Rond" by innac at


Original source: Partial Collection By skagitrenee at


Intermediate source "Coral Reef" by bethrosengard at


See wikipedia on synesthesia.


"How do we know that your ‘red' looks the same as my ‘red'? For all we know, your ‘red' looks like my ‘blue'. In fact, for all we know your ‘red' looks nothing like any of my colors at all! If colors are just internal labels, then as long as everything gets labeled, why should your brain and my brain use the same labels?


Richard Dawkins recently wrote a nice little piece on color, and along the way he asked these questions.


He also noted that not only can color labels differ in your and my brain, but perhaps the same color labels could be used in non-visual modalities of other animals. Bats, he notes, use audition for their spatial sense, and perhaps furry moths are heard as red, and leathery locusts as blue. Similarly, rhinoceroses may use olfaction for their spatial sense, and could perceive water as orange and rival male markings as gray.


However, I would suggest that most discussions of rearrangements of color qualia severely underestimate how much structure comes along with our color perceptions. Once one more fully appreciates the degree to which color qualia are linked to one another and to non-color qualia, it becomes much less plausible to single color qualia out as especially permutable.


Few of us, for example, would find it plausible to imagine that others might perceive music differently, e.g,. with pitch and loudness swapped, so that melody to them sounds like loudness modulations to me, and vice versa. Few of us would find it plausible to imagine that some other brain might perceive ‘up' (in one's visual field) and ‘down' as reversed. And it is not quite so compelling to imagine that one might perceive the depth of something as the timbre of an instrument, and vice versa. And so on.


Unlike color qualia, most alternative possible qualia rearrangements do not seem plausible. Why is that? Why is color the butt of nearly all the "inverted-spectra" arguments?


The difference is that these other qualia seem to be more than just mere labels that can be permuted willy nilly. Instead, these other qualia are deeply interconnected with hosts of other aspects of our perceptions. They are part of a complex structured network of qualia, and permuting just one small part of the network destroys the original shape and structure of the network - and when the network's shape and structure is radically changed, the original meanings of the perceptions (and the qualia) within it are obliterated.


The reason other qualia seem to be more than mere labels is that most of them have clear meanings and functions. We know what they're for, and how they plug in to the rest of our network of qualia. For color, on the other hand, we have historically been largely blind to what colors are for, and how they functionally integrate with the rest of our perception. In the absence of knowing how to plug colors in to the rest of our qualia, they do seem much more rearrangeable.


But we're beginning to know more about what colors are for, and as we learn more, color qualia are becoming more and more like other qualia in their non-permutability. Let's see why. . . " Mark Changizi

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Taken on January 28, 2011