Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Explaining colour

I find it fascinating to hear a blind man explaining on YouTube that the concept of colour is meaningless to him. He says nobody has ever explained it to him adequately, because there's really nothing to relate it to. You can't say it's like certain smells or temperature or sounds, because that's stupid. It's not like that at all, it's vision, and he has no concept of that. It's a quality of light, and in his blind world, there is no light. Not darkness, because that's just a way of saying light that wasn't there. This blind man does not, cannot, know what light is, let alone its different qualities.

It would be like some alien creature trying to tell you what it's like to sense magnetic fields, their strengths and directions. It's not like seeing some other colour, or hearing a high-pitched tone everywhere he goes, nor is it as if the air itself has some extra tactile resistance he can physically feel. He just detects the magnetic fields all around him, all the time, because the flurns in his blarndarp are quiggly, and he knows how strong the field is by how dralnip the pindle trebs, you know? Of course you don't. Those words are meaningless to you, because no matter how much he explains or what analogies he draws, it has to do with some fundamental experience you simply do not share and cannot know.

And that's what you sound like when you try to explain colour and light to a blind person.

Mokalus of Borg

PS - Or so I have it from reputable sources.
PPS - The video I linked says pretty much that.

No comments: