By | November 28, 2000

This article, titled Looking for Madam Tetrachromat, reminded me of an exercise that I went through in an Introduction to Philosophy class that I once took. In that exercise, we had to prove or disprove the philosophy that reality is what our senses tell us it is. Something is only real once we see it, feel it, touch it, etc. I argued that this is bull-poopy. An object is real, whether or not we see it. It exists, therefore it is real. Even if no one on earth ever sees it, it is still real. A rock is always a rock. A green plant is always a green plant.

Then I read the above article. Apparently, there are some women who can see more colors than everyone else on the planet. Instead of having just red, green and blue receptors in the eye, these women have a fourth receptor. To them, the world appears different, because they see colors differently. That green plant may not actually be green; they may see it as a different, lusher, richer color. This plant, this real thing, will look different to them.

This idea has really thrown me, for some reason. It made me realize that what I assume to be real is dependent on what I see, or smell, or touch. Even though I argued against the idea that our reality is what we sense, I have, in a way, been living this philosophy. Never has something I’ve read forced me to re-examine my philosophy as much as this article has.

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