Wittgenstein's Remarks on Colour: A Collection of Notes and Reflections on the Nature of Colour
Remarks on Colour Ludwig Wittgenstein.pdf: A Philosophical Inquiry into the Nature of Colour
Colour is one of the most basic and universal aspects of human experience. We perceive colours everywhere, we use colours to communicate, we associate colours with emotions, we enjoy colours in art and nature. But what is colour? How do we see colours? How do we talk about colours? These are some of the questions that the famous philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein explored in his book Remarks on Colour, which was published posthumously in 1977.
Remarks on Colour Ludwig Wittgenstein.pdf
Remarks on Colour is not a typical philosophical treatise. It is a collection of notes, observations, and reflections that Wittgenstein wrote in the last years of his life, between 1950 and 1951. He did not intend to publish them as a finished work, but rather as a way of clarifying his own thoughts and challenging some of the common assumptions and theories about colour. In this article, we will examine the main arguments and insights that Wittgenstein offered in his book, as well as the implications and criticisms that his views have generated in the philosophical community.
The main arguments of Wittgenstein on colour
Wittgenstein's remarks on colour are not organized in a systematic or linear way. He often jumps from one topic to another, repeats himself, contradicts himself, asks rhetorical questions, and makes provocative statements. However, we can identify some of the recurring themes and ideas that run through his book. Here are some of them:
The impossibility of a complete colour system
One of the aims of Wittgenstein's book is to show that there is no such thing as a complete and consistent system of colours that can capture all the possible variations and relations of colour. He criticizes various attempts to construct such a system, such as Newton's colour wheel, Goethe's colour theory, Ostwald's colour solid, and Munsell's colour atlas. He argues that these systems are based on arbitrary conventions, simplifications, and idealizations that do not correspond to the reality and complexity of colour.
For example, he points out that Newton's colour wheel assumes that there are only six primary colours (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet), that they are arranged in a circular order, and that they can be mixed to produce secondary colours. However, Wittgenstein challenges these assumptions by asking questions such as: Why are there only six primary colours? Why are they arranged in a circle? Why do they mix in certain ways? He shows that there are many exceptions and anomalies that cannot be explained by Newton's system, such as brown, pink, grey, white, black, metallic colours, iridescent colours, etc.
Wittgenstein also criticizes Goethe's colour theory, which claims that there are only two primary colours (red and yellow), that they are opposed by two secondary colours (blue and green), and that they form a triangle with white and black at the vertices. He argues that Goethe's theory is based on subjective impressions and psychological effects that do not reflect the objective properties of colour. He also questions the validity and usefulness of Goethe's concepts of colour harmony, colour contrast, and colour symbolism.
Wittgenstein further criticizes Ostwald's colour solid, which is a three-dimensional model of colours that represents hue, saturation, and brightness as spatial dimensions. He argues that Ostwald's system is too rigid and artificial, and that it does not account for the variability and diversity of colour perception. He also rejects Ostwald's claim that there is a universal standard of colour measurement and comparison, and that there is a single correct way of naming and classifying colours.
Finally, Wittgenstein criticizes Munsell's colour atlas, which is a collection of colour samples that are arranged according to hue, value, and chroma. He argues that Munsell's system is based on arbitrary and subjective choices, and that it does not capture the richness and subtlety of colour. He also points out that Munsell's system is incomplete and inconsistent, as it does not include all the possible colours, and as it contains gaps and overlaps between different colour categories.
The relativity and subjectivity of colour perception
Another theme that Wittgenstein explores in his book is the relativity and subjectivity of colour perception. He argues that there is no such thing as an absolute or objective colour, but rather that colours depend on various factors, such as the lighting conditions, the background, the context, the observer, the language, etc. He shows that colours can change or vary depending on these factors, and that there is no single or definitive way of seeing or describing colours.
For example, he points out that colours can appear different under different sources of light, such as sunlight, moonlight, candlelight, electric light, etc. He also shows that colours can be influenced by the surrounding colours, such as when a grey patch looks lighter on a black background than on a white background. He also demonstrates that colours can be affected by the perspective or position of the observer, such as when a red ball looks darker when it is farther away than when it is closer.
Wittgenstein also argues that colours are subjective and relative to the individual who perceives them. He claims that there is no guarantee that two people see the same colour when they look at the same object, or that one person sees the same colour when they look at the same object at different times. He also suggests that there may be differences in colour perception between different groups of people, such as men and women, children and adults, artists and scientists, etc.
Wittgenstein also contends that colours are influenced by the language and culture that we use to name and communicate them. He argues that there is no natural or logical connection between a colour word and a colour sensation, but rather that they are established by convention and habit. He also shows that there are variations and ambiguities in the use of colour words across different languages and cultures, such as whether green and blue are considered distinct colours or shades of the same colour.
The logical and grammatical aspects of colour language
A third theme that Wittgenstein investigates in his book is the logical and grammatical aspects of colour language. He analyzes how we use words and sentences to talk about colours, what kinds of meanings and rules they have, what kinds of mistakes and confusions they can cause, and what kinds of philosophical problems they can raise. He applies his method of linguistic analysis to clarify some of the puzzling and paradoxical features of colour language.
For example, he examines how we use adjectives to modify nouns to express colours, such as "red apple", "blue sky", "green grass", etc. He asks questions such as: What does it mean to say that something is red? How do we know what red is? How do we compare different shades of red? How do we apply the word red to different kinds of objects? He shows that these questions are not easy to answer, and that they involve various logical and grammatical issues.
He also analyzes how we use verbs to describe changes or actions involving colours, such as "to paint something red", "to bleach something white", "to mix yellow and blue", etc. He asks questions such as: What does it mean to say that something changes its colour? How do we measure or quantify colour changes? How do we explain or predict colour changes? How do we distinguish between physical and psychological colour changes? He shows that these questions are also complex and problematic, and that they involve various causal and modal issues.
false about colours? How do we verify or justify our statements about colours? How do we resolve or avoid contradictions or paradoxes about colours? He shows that these questions are also difficult and challenging, and that they involve various epistemological and metaphysical issues.
The implications and criticisms of Wittgenstein's views on colour
Wittgenstein's remarks on colour have had a significant impact and influence on the philosophical discussion and debate about colour. His views have also generated various implications and criticisms from other philosophers and scholars. Here are some of them:
The relevance of Wittgenstein's remarks for aesthetics, psychology, and science
One of the implications of Wittgenstein's remarks on colour is that they have opened up new perspectives and possibilities for exploring the aesthetic, psychological, and scientific aspects of colour. Wittgenstein's remarks have inspired and stimulated many artists, writers, critics, psychologists, and scientists to examine and experiment with colour in different ways.
For example, Wittgenstein's remarks have influenced the work of many modern and contemporary artists, such as Paul Klee, Mark Rothko, Josef Albers, Bridget Riley, David Hockney, etc. These artists have used colour as a primary element of their artistic expression, and have experimented with various techniques and effects of colour composition, contrast, harmony, illusion, etc.
Wittgenstein's remarks have also influenced the work of many literary authors, such as Vladimir Nabokov, Iris Murdoch, J.M. Coetzee, etc. These authors have used colour as a key theme or motif of their literary works, and have explored various aspects and meanings of colour in relation to language, memory, emotion, identity, etc.
Wittgenstein's remarks have also influenced the work of many psychologists and scientists, such as David Katz, Edwin Land, James Gibson, Richard Gregory, etc. These psychologists and scientists have investigated the perceptual, cognitive, and neural mechanisms of colour vision, and have developed various theories and models of colour processing, categorization, representation, etc.
The challenges and objections to Wittgenstein's remarks from other philosophers
Another implication of Wittgenstein's remarks on colour is that they have provoked various challenges and objections from other philosophers who disagree or differ with his views. Wittgenstein's remarks have sparked many controversies and debates among philosophers who have different opinions or perspectives on the nature and status of colour.
For example, some philosophers have challenged Wittgenstein's claim that there is no complete or consistent system of colours. They have argued that there are possible or actual systems of colours that can account for all the variations and relations of colour. They have also defended some of the existing systems of colours that Wittgenstein criticized.
Some philosophers have also challenged Wittgenstein's claim that colour perception is relative and subjective. They have argued that there are objective or universal facts or properties of colour that do not depend on various factors. They have also defended some of the existing theories or accounts of colour realism.
Some philosophers have also challenged Wittgenstein's claim that colour language is logical and grammatical. They have argued that there are semantic or metaphysical aspects of colour language that go beyond logic and grammar. They have also defended some of the existing theories or accounts of colour meaning or reference.
Conclusion: How to understand and appreciate Wittgenstein's remarks on colour
In conclusion, Wittgenstein's Remarks on Colour is a fascinating and influential book that offers a unique and original philosophical inquiry into the nature of colour. It is not a book that provides definitive answers or solutions to the questions or problems about colour. Rather, it is a book that invites us to rethink and reconsider our assumptions and beliefs about colour. It is a book that challenges us to question and explore the complexity and diversity of colour perception, language, and thought.
Wittgenstein's book is not an easy or straightforward read. It requires careful attention and interpretation to follow his arguments and insights. It also requires an open mind and imagination to appreciate his style and method. However, it is a rewarding and enriching read for anyone who is interested in philosophy in general, and in colour in particular.
FAQs about Remarks on Colour Ludwig Wittgenstein.pdf
Here are some frequently asked questions about Remarks on Colour Ludwig Wittgenstein.pdf:
When and where did Wittgenstein write his remarks on colour?
Wittgenstein wrote his remarks on colour in the last years of his life, between 1950 and 1951. He wrote them in various places, such as Cambridge, London, Dublin, and Vienna.
How and why did Wittgenstein write his remarks on colour?
Wittgenstein wrote his remarks on colour as a way of clarifying his own thoughts and challenging some of the common assumptions and theories about colour. He wrote them in the form of notes, observations, and reflections, rather than in the form of a systematic or coherent treatise. He did not intend to publish them as a finished work, but rather as a personal exercise.
What are some of the sources or influences of Wittgenstein's remarks on colour?
Wittgenstein's remarks on colour are influenced by various sources, such as his own personal experience and observation of colours, his previous philosophical works and methods, his conversations and discussions with other philosophers and friends, and his reading and study of various books and articles on colour theory and science.
What are some of the main contributions or impacts of Wittgenstein's remarks on colour?
Wittgenstein's remarks on colour have contributed to the philosophical discussion and debate about colour in various ways, such as by exposing the limitations and problems of existing systems and theories of colour, by proposing new perspectives and possibilities for understanding and exploring colour, by influencing and inspiring the work of other philosophers, artists, writers, psychologists, and scientists on colour, and by raising new questions and challenges for future research on colour.
Where can I find or read Wittgenstein's remarks on colour?
Wittgenstein's remarks on colour are available in various editions and translations. The original German version is titled Bemerkungen über die Farben, and was first published in 1977. The English version is titled Remarks on Colour, and was first published in 1978. You can find or read Wittgenstein's remarks on colour online or offline, in print or digital format.