Author Topic: No one could see the color blue until modern times  (Read 4647 times)

Offline Rube

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Re: No one could see the color blue until modern times
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2015, 10:32:47 AM »
From Táin Bó Cúailnge (7th or 8th Century AD):
Quote
Those blue eyes that melted women,
and menaced enemies, I loved:
&
Quote
I loved your blue clear eye,
your way of speech, your skillfulness,
A modern translation will read current words back into a text. That doesn't mean that the original Irish word signified blue in the sense that the word blue signifies blue now.

One could gratuitously make that claim about any color.

Offline GloriaPatri

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Re: No one could see the color blue until modern times
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2015, 10:41:28 AM »
From Táin Bó Cúailnge (7th or 8th Century AD):
Quote
Those blue eyes that melted women,
and menaced enemies, I loved:
&
Quote
I loved your blue clear eye,
your way of speech, your skillfulness,
A modern translation will read current words back into a text. That doesn't mean that the original Irish word signified blue in the sense that the word blue signifies blue now.

One could gratuitously make that claim about any color.

That is because languages evolve over time, they aren't static. But just because we translate a given Irish word as blue today doesn't mean that the original writers had a conception of the color blue as we do. For example, we translate the Greek 'eudaemonia' as 'happiness,' though that is not a truly fitting translation. But we don't have, in English, a word that truly captures the concept of what eudaemonia represents. The same could be said with this Irish word and it's translation as 'blue.'
 

Offline LoneWolfRadTrad

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Re: No one could see the color blue until modern times
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2015, 10:45:52 AM »
It's likely everyone could see blue, but it's separation from other similar colors was not distinguished.  This happens across cultures.  There are some where pink and red or purple and red or orange and yellow are not viewed as their own distinct colors.
 

Offline GloriaPatri

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Re: No one could see the color blue until modern times
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2015, 11:19:36 AM »
It's likely everyone could see blue, but it's separation from other similar colors was not distinguished.  This happens across cultures.  There are some where pink and red or purple and red or orange and yellow are not viewed as their own distinct colors.

Which may have had a psychological effect on how the brains interpreted color. Color perception is inherently subjective. It may have been that these people could not see blue as a separate color (relying on metaphors like "wine-dark sea") because they had no way of articulating a distinction between it and similar colors.
 

Offline Pheo

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Re: No one could see the color blue until modern times
« Reply #19 on: April 12, 2015, 02:10:30 AM »
Wine-dark sea doesn't confuse me at all.  Have these people never been out in a boat?  The water usually does look more like wine than anything resembling blue (and pro-tip: water isn't blue anyway).

Academics can be really annoying sometimes.

The only colours that don't exist are the 74 "different" shades of beige at Home Depot.  Although no doubt there'll be some equally self-important academic 1000 years from now lamenting future-Man's lost ability to distinguish between Fretwire and Safari Vest.
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Offline Greg

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Re: No one could see the color blue until modern times
« Reply #20 on: April 12, 2015, 02:25:44 AM »
I wonder what colour Microsoft used when ancient computers crashed?
 

Offline Basilios

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Re: No one could see the color blue until modern times
« Reply #21 on: April 12, 2015, 02:42:41 AM »
What an incredibly stupid theory. Best clickbait of 2015 though. There is 0 evidence or logical argument to be made for thinking that if a language doesn't have a direct translatable word for "blue" that suddenly those cultures couldn't "see" blue. Language idiosyncrecies have a physiological effect on us and suddenly remove the Blue part of our RBG colour cones in our eyes? It would be like arguing that Amazonian tribes can't "see" things like iPods and video games because they don't have words for them. Isn't that magical; this absolutely groundbreaking and impenetrable logic that you can only perceive something visually if you have a word for it.

Furthermore, a cursory Google search shows that even today there are a few cultures where the distinction between Green/Blue in language isn't to be made or at least is more confused than what we expect in English (Chinese/Japanese/Gaelic/Ethiopian). So, go to Japan and show them the Smurfs and the Japanese get all confused and think they're watching the Simpsons? I don't think so.

I never thought I'd ever have to use a 6 month course I did in my post-grad degree in Philosophy ever again, but apparently God has other plans. The Philosophy of Colour was just about the most boring thing I ever subjected myself to, but I guess it saved me the trouble of believing in modern magic applied to to the past. I wonder what someone like Wittgenstein would say about this nonsense.

This article also seems to take issue with the way the OP's article presents their "facts".

To make the point clearer, just transfer this line of thinking to any other qualia type of thing (taste, smell, touch, etc).  The whole thing is incredibly stupid; it also ignores ancient languages that do speak about blue colours, and it's very selective in the way it treats language and colour identity (i.e in English we have a colour called seafoam green; imagine if in 500 years someone dug up a Dulux paintbook and decided that our century couldn't see blue but instead we saw the sea as a big green mass). Silly.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2015, 06:22:40 AM by Basilios »
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