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《On Color》 Wittgenstein

Last year's reading notes were also good for understanding Wittgenstein.

By Peter UriPublished 2 months ago 6 min read

Nietzsche criticized the self cause in "The Twilight of the Idol", which goes from concept to existence. It is impossible for lower things to generate higher things because lower things are generated by higher things, and similarly, higher things are also generated by higher things. He refuted this view and referred to such philosophers as the intellectual disability of the Spider Man web. Does he reflect Hegel's "Little Logic"? (For details, please refer to "The Twilight of Idols" by Nietzsche, Commercial Press, approximately pages 20-30.)

Wittgenstein mainly explores Goethe's viewpoint on color in this book (as mentioned in the Biography of Hegel, it seems that Hegel agreed with Goethe's theory of color, while the author of the autobiography disagrees, believing that Goethe failed to replicate Newton's experiment of decomposing colored light through a prism) and Newton's viewpoint on color, and proposes his unique viewpoint on color.

Firstly, Wittgenstein believed that color is a subjective impression that varies according to an individual's visual impression, rather than a phenomenon that everyone can see with accuracy. At the same time, three types of people were also explored, such as color blind, normal person, and blind person. It is difficult or even impossible to teach blind people what to see and color blindness what is called correct color. If they are normal people, they can be taught something they have already learned or even become accustomed to without describing it; If you want to teach them what is invisible, just cover their eyes and let them experience this tactile sensation system; But it is difficult to teach them the world in the eyes of color blind people. Color blind people can pretend to speak the correct lines they are taught like actors. If there is a color blind tribe, and a normal person is a rare case or a blind tribe that can survive under certain special conditions, and the people they can see are some rare examples, then the situation will be very different. Color blind people say the wrong usage of a certain color word, which is actually correct for normal humans. Normal humans cannot see the world in the eyes of color blind people, so it is destined to be difficult to understand.

As Wittgenstein said, "I cannot teach someone a language game that I do not even understand myself." Wittgenstein also proposed the gameplay of chess and whether advanced mathematics can tell someone else that they have not mastered, while exploring the difference between telling those who have not mastered and those who have mastered. He also envisioned a nation with intellectual disabilities who cannot play or understand any games, and told them what differences may exist if they are destined to not understand.

Wittgenstein first saw signs of color in his Philosophical Research, for example, in his language game of discussing whether the red of roses is still red in the dark. Newton's viewpoint on color was mainly based on physical experiments, where a beam of sunlight may be called white light shining on a prism, and the light is decomposed into several different colored lights, hitting the shaded wall. This has been confirmed by the scientific community, so modern people generally believe that white light is composed of a mixture of several different colored lights. White light reflects all colored light, while black absorbs all colored light. Of course, there are also difficult to perceive light such as ultraviolet and infrared rays. Goethe, on the other hand, proposed that light is a mixture of white, gray, and black. Wittgenstein expressed this idea in his text, stating that no amount of darkness and shadow can produce a beam of white light. Goethe's concept of color leans towards the creative thinking model of mysticism and literary art, rather than positivism.

Wittgenstein's main focus is on exploring a logical concept of color, rather than a purely psychological theory. For example, he wrote at the end of this book about how psychologists know a person can see, and how experimental subjects behave or describe themselves in various environments or situations. He also explored how blind people know whether others can see them, by making a gesture and then asking others to say the gesture they made. Sometimes, Wittgenstein may be perceived as blind when walking on the road, and he explains to others that he is not a problem by displaying certain behaviors or describing explanations. Wittgenstein first explored the concept of intercolor, such as mixing one color with another to form a new color, or mixing blue and yellow to form green, and whether intercolor is a pure color concept or a mixed color.

For example, if white is a mixture, it is a mixture of blue, red, green, yellow, etc., but it contradicts other pure color concepts. He also discussed that white is transparent because some glass is transparent, such as red transparent glass, green transparent glass, etc. Wittgenstein has always believed that white is not pure. Wittgenstein even imagined a type of white glass that can only reflect the darkness of gray, black, and white, just like a black and white camera.

He believes that white is a form of shading, like fog, while also being a colorless transparency. Because he placed a piece of white paper behind the so-called colorless and transparent glass, and the displayed paper was still white. If the glass had other colors, such as red transparent glass, the white paper would appear red. Wittgenstein believed that black is a very dirty color that can contaminate other colors, and even clothes contaminated by coal mines can become blurry, giving people an unclean feeling;

He also believes that gray is a color that does not emit light. Once people think of gray, they will think of a burnt out fire. Gray light is obtained by reflecting the light of other objects, not a faint white light or electric spark. Even though the sky is gray, gray is still considered to not emit light. What he explores is the color of the object itself and the influence of transparent media. For example, when looking at the scenery outside the window through colored glass, the scenery outside is dyed and loses its original appearance, or water, air, fog, light, etc. are also transparent media that can affect the original color of things. Wittgenstein also proposed that when a white paper is illuminated, it is white or gray under shadows, and even when there is no light source, it is black. On a pitch black night with no visible fingers, turn off the lights, observe everything around with a sketchbook, and draw it like a normal world with lights on?

What exactly is the color? Is it a visual impression of a special environment? Will it change over time? How should this concept be defined?

Sometimes things in the distance may seem small, but small things may not necessarily be far away. For example, in a black and white photo, there is a blond boy and a dark haired man standing next to a pile of black machines. Wittgenstein can still recognize the little boy's golden hair in this black and white photo. Is the color of the machine and the plating of the wire mesh due to phenomena or impressions observed before taking the photo? Wittgenstein said that the photo looked just like that. Wittgenstein mainly used black and white movies as an example. The white movie screen was like a transparent glass, and after the movie started screening, it felt like the actors and the movie were happening behind this window. Although it was black and white, the light emitted by the projector smeared white, gray, and black with delicate and soft textures in the movie. The precise strokes were enough to outline the unique feelings of the movie characters. It's hard not to think Goethe's words are good. It's like a snowfall spreading its unique substance over the real world. Wittgenstein even believed that black is the true color of things and the world itself, and that the color under ordinary light is only the product of white light influence.

Wittgenstein believed that the so-called concept of color is simply the result of people taking it for granted, with the minority obeying the majority. Normal people never see what red and green look like in a color blind world? If there is a person who can correctly understand the colors of color blindness and those of normal people, then what does he teach us to understand? What is the difference between seeing and knowing as predicates? The root of philosophy is uncertain, but there are phenomenological problems.


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Peter Uri

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    Peter UriWritten by Peter Uri

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