Is it possible for a person who has never seen green color or who does not feel pain explain what it is?

Is it possible for a person who has never seen green color or who does not feel pain explain what it is?

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answers (10)

Answer 1
May, 2021

This question is much more interesting to consider from an aesthetic or moral point of view.

Let's say you like slender girls, but you have been studying Rubens aesthetics for years. After that, will you consider "Rubens' women" attractive?

Or a moral point of view. You play a shooter and bump into an enemy who has been programmed to beg for mercy. And he does it very efficiently, even though Oscar come on. Do you become a murderer after you shoot him in the forehead and a reliable physics engine simulates the convulsions of a dying person? At what point does the imitation become too reliable?

Answer 2
May, 2021

In 1688, John Locke received a letter from the Irish physicist William Molyneux with an interesting question: for example, a person who was blind from birth learned to recognize by touch various geometric shapes - balls, cubes and pyramids. If he gains sight, will he be able to immediately recognize these figures without touching them?

Locke liked this question so much that he included it in his fundamental work “An Experiment on Human Understanding”

Sciencemag writes about an experience with five children who had their sight restored. In short, the answer to Molyneux's question is no

This leads to an interesting conclusion: no matter how strongly we imagine SOMETHING unseen and unknown, mentally feeling it inside our head when we encounter IT, at first we don't recognize HIM

Answer 3
May, 2021

In the answer of Artyom Besedin, I still lack something. Namely, the final point - a tool for choosing one of the two points of view.
I see these two points of view as a dispute between a metaphysician and an adherent of dialectical materialism. Dennett looks at the root and with fantastic ease operates with absolute concepts (as metaphysicians;) usually do it). Indeed, if you only imagine that the world is cognizable, and in particular, visual perception is fully cognizable, and, moreover, cognized, then Mary, as a hypothetical bearer of all this absolute knowledge about visual perception, can certainly do everything. And therefore it is only a hypothetical Mary.
Mary Jackson is dialectical, she takes into account the real state of affairs, and considers everything in interconnection. And of course she will guess (exactly guess) the red tomato, provided that we do not deceive her by slipping her green one. This Mary is already real.
That is (by analogy with the definitions given by Engels in the Dialectics of Nature) absolute and adequate transfer of knowledge by words (including knowledge about personal perception of color or pain) is possible, but within certain limits . Namely: this Mary has vision, as an instrument for measuring the wavelength, but it is not calibrated, hence the direct transfer of knowledge is impossible until Mary herself sees the reference points by which she calibrates her color vision. Knowledge about these reference points can be conveyed in words indirectly. For example, "a ripe tomato is often red." Then, seeing the tomatoes and collecting certain statistics, Mary, of course, finds out what a red color. But this is not the transfer of pure knowledge in words, it requires the receiver of this knowledge to do a certain amount of work on systematization and empirical assimilation.

Answer 4
May, 2021

What's the question? In understanding what is behind the word, but the word is an element of the language. Those. first you need to master the language. But I do not know the Thai language, so I cannot explain to the Thai until I show two green and yellow leaves, showing I will name these colors in Russian. Those. the word is always complemented by action. Further, the Polynesian peoples have a dozen words for the color of the sea. We also distinguish colors and shades and understand the Polynesian if there is a translator nearby, i.e. without an intermediary, understanding will not arise.

But astronomers are receiving a modulated signal from distant space. Will they be able to decipher it? They will be able if those who sent it through signal modulation transmit a measure of a natural object, the physics of which corresponds to the physics of the signal. If this is a signal in the nature of electromagnetic oscillations, then we will compare with the corresponding knowledge. At the same time, the signal must also encode a sequence that reflects the physical laws of electromagnetic oscillations.

The problem is that each person acts as an operator in one or another system of knowledge. We can understand another person only within the limits of this knowledge. The mastery of knowledge is born from the experience of life and activity. And everyone has his own experience, so it is difficult for us to understand each other. But there is help here - faith. Faith must be discussed separately.

Answer 5
May, 2021

Yes, you can. And this is confirmed by everyday practice: once upon a time it was explained to all the participants in this discussion which words are tied to certain phenomena of our perception. It is another matter how different the processes of perception-interpretation-awareness of a child and an adult differ.

Answer 6
May, 2021

As far as I understand the question, it is talking about the transfer of knowledge through words. This topic was touched upon at one time by the ancient Greek philosopher Gorgiy Leontinsky, arguing that knowledge about the existing (color and pain in this context) is a priori inexpressible to other people. Why?

Words, in their essence, are not being, and they are not also what felt things are. In addition, the meaning of a thing does not follow from the word.

And in the end it turns out: what exists is presented in the form of knowledge about it to other people different from being - by thoughts - and different from thoughts and being - by words.

That is, summing up, the question can be answered in the affirmative, nevertheless omitting any criteria of truth, because it is impossible to guarantee that a person will understand exactly what you want to convey to him in concreto.

Answer 7
May, 2021

The question you are raising is really discussed by philosophers in terms of the problem of qualia or phenomenal experience, which can be characterized by the phrase "what it is like to be in this or that state." In the 1980s, Frank Jackson proposed a thought experiment very similar to your question (Jackson, F., 1982, “Epiphenomenal Qualia,” Philosophical Quarterly 32: 127-136). Imagine Mary, the neuroscientist of the future, who has spent her entire life in black and white rooms. The neuroscience of the future has fully explained all the processes in humans related to visual perception, and Mary is familiar with these explanations. That is, Mary knows all the scientific facts about visual perception. Now imagine she walks out of her black and white room and sees a red tomato. The question is: will she recognize the color red?

Jackson himself, like most modern philosophers, gives a negative answer, but there is also an opposite opinion. For example, you can reason like this: Mary has never seen red, but she knows what a tomato looks like and that tomatoes are red. Therefore, when she sees a tomato, she recognizes the color red. This answer is unsatisfactory, for example, because not all tomatoes are red: we can slip an unripe tomato to Mary, or even make fun of her and give her a turquoise tomato. That is, Mary can only assume that it is red, and not know for certain. In addition, Jackson is not asking about a practical way of distinguishing colors, but about a special experience associated with the perception of red (as I understand your question). At the sight of a tomato, will Mary have the realization that here, here it is, the red color, which she has read so much about, or about which she has been told so much? Jackson insists not. We can easily take Mary's place if we replace color with taste: there are innumerable things that taste, but which you have not tried and would not think to try. You can describe the taste of a tropical fruit as much as you want, but until you taste it, you will not know the taste of this fruit.

Philosopher Daniel Dennett is one of those who disagree with Jackson ... He points out that Mary, by the terms of a thought experiment, knows all the natural science facts about visual perception. This in itself is unimaginable, says Dennett, which is why we intuitively tend to say no. We can only imagine that Mary knows a lot, but she should know much more. Visual perception is a natural process, there is nothing supernatural in it, that is, all knowledge about visual perception is exhausted by natural science facts. Knowing what it is like to perceive red is knowing a fact about visual perception, and Mary, by definition, knows all such facts, which means that she also knows what it is like to perceive red. If we apply this reasoning to your question, then Dennett's answer would be yes: yes, we can explain to a person what the color green is if we provide it with an exhaustiveher with information about color perception. However, few people agree with this answer.

By the way, there is a song about Mary with a funny video: youtube.com

Answer 8
May, 2021

It can be explained, but the feeling of green or pain is different from the concept of it. At the same time, there is no strict reason to believe that the sensations of different people from green are the same. In philosophy, this is called the qualia problem. And so a person or even an interactive computer program is quite capable of talking about things that are inaccessible to their sensory perception, at least by looking in a dictionary and remembering that green is the color of such and such objects, or by measuring the green channel in a computer image. This is not what you feel when you feel green, but at the level of explanations there is no difference.

We are discussing, for example, weightlessness, although, relatively speaking, only astronauts felt it.

In short, the explanation lies in a different realm than sensation. And when you talk about green, you are actually referring to the concept of green, not the feeling of it.

Answer 9
May, 2021

Well, I do not distinguish green against blue and vice versa, but individually I see them, and, moreover, different. Those. the brain still identifies the information it receives from the eyes, about the object, because the green object has not become either gray, much less transparent!

This is a question of training the brain and sense organs to identify images, which is simple, sometimes ambiguous.

Answer 10
May, 2021

To explain, you need to define. Then the problem arises that the definitions of such a sensation as pain or of such a color as green are axiomatic (fundamental) and relative (each person perceives these sensations differently, but approximately the same), and therefore the presentation of such definitions is ostensive (we have to show examples) ... Thus, it turns out that it is almost * impossible to explain the green color (pain) to a person who has never seen it (does not feel pain). In the case of pain, you can only explain (show) the external (facial, behavioral, etc.) signs of pain, but not internal.

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