How Does Language Shape Our Color Experiences?

A fascinating video, via PZ, who also offers some analysis.


Your Thoughts?

About Daniel Fincke

Dr. Daniel Fincke  has his PhD in philosophy from Fordham University and spent 11 years teaching in college classrooms. He wrote his dissertation on Ethics and the philosophy of Friedrich Nietzsche. On Camels With Hammers, the careful philosophy blog he writes for a popular audience, Dan argues for atheism and develops a humanistic ethical theory he calls “Empowerment Ethics”. Dan also teaches affordable, non-matriculated, video-conferencing philosophy classes on ethics, Nietzsche, historical philosophy, and philosophy for atheists that anyone around the world can sign up for. (You can learn more about Dan’s online classes here.) Dan is an APPA  (American Philosophical Practitioners Association) certified philosophical counselor who offers philosophical advice services to help people work through the philosophical aspects of their practical problems or to work out their views on philosophical issues. (You can read examples of Dan’s advice here.) Through his blogging, his online teaching, and his philosophical advice services each, Dan specializes in helping people who have recently left a religious tradition work out their constructive answers to questions of ethics, metaphysics, the meaning of life, etc. as part of their process of radical worldview change.

  • BJones

    Not really a surprise that the left side of the brain is responsible for language of color- that’s true for 95% of right handers and 60some % of lefties in all words.

    When you’re talking about BOLD activation in an FMRI, it depends on what part of the brain is most ‘active’ so the difference in lateralization makes sense- if the left side is going to name, the blood would go there. I don’t think the research shows for certain that the right side is NOT doing anything (or any less than it did prelanguage age) if it’s based on a BOLD response.

    It’s great that they got Elijah Wood for the second half; the production values are excellent.

    If I remember Latin has no distinction between brown and grey.

    Thanks for sharing this!

  • Daniel

    The evidence seems shaky at best to me: The first test took no account for genes also wiring for language acquisition that kicks in and that will shape perception as well. Nor did they show brain activity with fMRI for instance. It would be a lot more convincing if they’d look at how people learnig their first and different language would look like in the wiring of the brain, so look at when a baby in germany starts to learn german and look at his/her brain and do the same for different languages and see if there are any interesting developments in differences (which will be as no individual will be the same, but one can control for it). The second I immediately thought that they were colourblind– that seemed to explain the categories, and the ability to spot contrast differences (remember that during the second world war they hired colourblind people to spot camouflage from planes).

    And we’re talking about colour! You could sit for eternity slicing up the spectrum to their own categories and it’s completely arbitrary, a human construct, built in through the millenias. Putting colours to categories like darker ones etc seems like a perfectly sensible thing to do. But did they control for genes? That is, were they colourblind? (We’re talking about a small tribe with probably not much genes coming from the outside)

    Linguistic Determinism/relativism suffers from deepities: The analogue to them and people abusing the observer effect and other concepts from quantum physics is amusing.

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