[ExI] i am software: wasRE: utah: RE: Frank Jackson's brilliant color scientist Mary

Adrian Tymes atymes at gmail.com
Tue Jan 7 19:09:57 UTC 2020

On Tue, Jan 7, 2020 at 10:50 AM Brent Allsop <brent.allsop at gmail.com> wrote:

> Today physicists can’t tell us the qualitative color of anything.  Though
> they can abstractly describe everything about physics (just as Frank
> Jackson’s Mary can) they can’t tell us anything about the physical quality
> any of these descriptions are describing.  For example, it could be that
> our descriptions of how glutamate reacts in a synapse could be describing
> what we directly experience as redness.

Well, I can tell you what part of "redness" is.  There are certain
photoreceptors in the human eye that trigger upon receipt of red photons,
and do not trigger upon receipt of photons of other colors.  It's the
specific neurons that matter: the receptors for red, green, and blue all
use glutamate in the same way.

The brain recognizes these patterns, but associating them to the word "red"
is very much a cultural, learned thing - see
https://k-international.com/blog/colors-in-other-languages/ among many
other sources.  Thus, "redness" gets into sociology and the humanities, so
of course pure biophysics struggles to give a full picture of what
"redness" boils down to.

Put another way, to take a specific example that page notes: we have direct
physical evidence that "blueness" differs between those whose first
language is Russian and those whose first language is English.
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