10 Answers

  1. You can explain it, but the feeling of green color or pain is different from the concept of it. At the same time, there is no strict reason to believe that the feelings of different people from the color green are the same. In philosophy, this is called the qualia problem. And so a person or even a dialog computer program is quite capable of reasoning about things that are inaccessible to their sensory perception, at least by looking in the 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 only astronauts felt it, relatively speaking.

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

  2. To explain it, you need to define it. Then the problem arises that the definitions of such a sensation as pain or 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) external (facial, behavioral, etc.) signs of pain, but not internal.

  3. What's the question? In understanding what is behind the word, but the word is an element of the language. That is, first you need to master the language. But I don't know Thai, so I can't explain it to a Thai until I show two sheets of green and yellow, and call these colors in Russian. That is, the word is always supplemented with an action. Further, the Polynesian peoples have about a dozen words for the color of the sea. We can also distinguish between colors and shades, and we can understand a Polynesian if there is a translator nearby, i.e. without an intermediary, there is no understanding.�

    But astronomers receive a modulated signal from deep space. Will they be able to decipher it? They can, 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 it is a signal in the nature of electromagnetic vibrations, then we will compare it with the corresponding knowledge. At the same time, the signal must also contain a sequence that reflects the physical laws of electromagnetic vibrations.

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

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

    Let's say you like slim girls, but you've been studying Rubens ' aesthetics for years. Will you then find Rubens ' women attractive?

    Or a moral point of view. You play a shooter game and run into an opponent who has been programmed to beg for mercy. And he does it very well, even if you give him an Oscar. Do you become a killer after you put a bullet in his head and a reliable physics engine works out an imitation of the convulsions of a dying person? At what point does the simulation become too reliable?

  5. Yes, you can. And this is confirmed by everyday practice: once all participants in this discussion were explained which words are tied to certain phenomena of our perception. Another thing is how different the processes of perception-interpretation-awareness are in a child and in an adult.

  6. Well, I do not distinguish between green against blue and vice versa, but I see them separately, and they are different. That is, the brain still identifies the information received from the eyes about the object, because the green object has not become either gray or, moreover, transparent!

    This is a question of training the brain and sense organs to identify images, simply, sometimes ambiguously.

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

    Locke liked this question so much that he included it in his seminal work, The Experience of 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 IT

  8. There is still something missing in Artem Besedin's answer. Namely, the final point-a tool for selecting one of two points of view.
    I see these two points of view as a dispute between a metaphysician and an adherent of dialectical materialism. Dennett sees at the root and operates with fantastic ease with absolute concepts (like metaphysics 😉 this is usually done). Indeed, if we only imagine that the world is knowable, and in particular visual perception is completely knowable, and, moreover, is known, then Mary, as a hypothetical carrier of all this absolute knowledge about visual perception, can certainly do everything. So this is just a hypothetical Mary.
    Jackson's theory is dialectical, it takes into account the real state of affairs, and considers everything in relation. And she will certainly guess (exactly guess) a red tomato, provided we don't cheat her by slipping her a green one. This Mary is already real.
    That is, (by analogy with the definitions given by Engels in the Dialectic of Nature) absolute and adequate transmission 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 a tool for measuring wavelength, but it is not calibrated, so direct transmission 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, ” ripe tomatoes are more often red.” Then, after seeing tomatoes and collecting certain statistics, Mary of course learns that such a red color. But this is not the transfer of pure knowledge in words, it requires the recipient of this knowledge to do some work on systematization and empirical assimilation.

  9. As far as I understand the question, it is about transferring knowledge through words. This topic was touched upon by the ancient Greek philosopher Gorgias of Leontina, who argued that knowledge of what exists (color and pain in this context) is a priori indescribable to other people. Why?

    Words, in their essence, are not being, nor are they what things are perceived to be. In addition, the word does not imply the meaning of a thing.

    And in the end, it turns out that what exists is presented in the form of knowledge about it to other people who are different from being – thoughts – and different from thoughts and being – words.

    That is, to sum up, you can give an affirmative answer to the question, but nevertheless omit any criteria of truth, because it is impossible to guarantee that a person will understand exactly what you want to convey to them in concreto.

  10. The question you are raising is indeed discussed by philosophers in the context of qualia, or phenomenal experience, which can be described by the phrase”what does it feel 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, a future neuroscientist who has spent her entire life in black-and-white rooms. Neuroscience of the future has fully explained all the processes in humans associated with visual perception, and Mary is familiar with these explanations. That is, Mary knows all the scientific facts about visual perception. Now imagine that she comes out of her black-and-white room and sees a red tomato. Q: Does she recognize the color red?

    Jackson himself, like most modern philosophers, gives a negative answer, but there is 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. So 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 Mary an unripe tomato, or even joke about her and give her a turquoise tomato. That is, Mary can only assume that it is red, and not know for sure. In addition, Jackson is not asking about a practical way to distinguish colors, but about a special experience associated with the perception of red (as I understand your question). Will Mary, when she sees a tomato, realize that this is the red color that she has read so much about, or been told so much about? Jackson insists he doesn't. We can easily put ourselves in Mary's shoes if we substitute color for taste: there are innumerable things that taste but you haven't tried and wouldn't think of trying. You can describe the taste of some tropical fruit as much as you want, but until you try 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 knows all the natural science facts about visual perception based on the conditions of the thought experiment. This in itself is inconceivable, Dennett says, which is why we intuitively tend to say no. We can only imagine that Mary knows very, very much, but she must 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 feels like to perceive red is knowing a fact about visual perception, and Mary, by definition, knows all such facts, so she also knows what it feels like to perceive red. If we apply this reasoning to your question, Dennett's answer would be yes: yes, we can explain to a person what the color green is, if we provide them with comprehensive 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

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