Philosophical Review

Ludwig Wittgenstein, Remarks on Colour by G. E. M. Anscombe; Linda L. McAlister; Margarete Schattle Review by: Marcia Yudkin The Philosophical Review, Vol. 90, No. 1 (Jan., 1981), pp. 118-120 Published by: Duke University Press on behalf of Philosophical Review Stable URL: . Accessed: 17/01/2012 11:09
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Epistemologists readily concede that different cultures may divide up the color spectrum differently than we. who have a great investment in color's being such a clear and straightforward phenomenon so close to the physiological universal that it can serve as a firm and trustworthy foundation for knowledge. XC. I might describe the skin of my friend as white when I am discussing races. Wittgenstein's notes on a much more restricted topic. Edited by G. would have at the least to be mediated by the knowledge of the sort of material one is looking at. REMARKS ON COLOUR. published as Remarkson Colour. as ruddy when I am describing her complexion.95. to scientists. if there is indeed such a process. 1977. when light and shadow play upon it. No." for example. as basic. University of California Press. and now we have. Anscombe. McAlister and Margarete Schattle. M. $8.may show that security to be delusory. and if I could be shown a patch of her skin 118 .1 January 1981) BOOK REVIEWS LUDWIG WITTGENSTEIN. Some of the difficulties arise because colors are variously important to artists.126. But the subject is especially significant for philosophers. ANSCOMBE. M. E. and two competent translators. courtesy of G. it would not be mathematical. On Certainty. he is working at the uncertain borderline between the logical and the empirical. Translated by Linda L. The continuity of this work with Wittgenstein's other investigations is not startling.The Philosophical Review. not grey or. black and white. Berkeley. as self-justifying and context-independent Remarks on Colour. E. "I seem to see redness. but some of Wittgenstein's examples challenge the assumption that it is as if one has a unitary color spectrum in one's head and matches with it what one sees. editor.and could more justly be termed an investigation into the "foundation of mathematics. For example.Wittgenstein puts forth the idea of an investigation of mathematics comparable to his work on psychology. Here. has seemed to many epistemologists just about as one can get. and in everyday life. too. At the very end of Philosophical Investigations. The process. Pp. I see my flute as silver. Remarks on the Foundation of Mathematics. showing that peculiarities in the use of color concepts cannot be whisked away easily as natural facts about the physical realm of color or as a logical mess that could stand straightening out." We have had for some time a collection of Wittgenstein's notes on that subject. taken together with another posthumous work of Wittgenstein's.

one that is (in our terms) red-green colorblind. with one word for "green leaf" and another for "green table. glass: "Can a transparent green glass have the same colour as a piece of opaque paper or not? If such a glass were depicted in a painting. one that has the color reddish-green but not reddish-yellow. a property that seems neither clearly logical nor clearly empirical. in another I see it lighter or darker grey. Wittgenstein points out difficulties in making comparisons between colors of paint and colors of. white light appears white? Or. that the color of the glass is the color it would appear when one looks through it at something white. more complicated than it might seem. why paint instead of plants and flowers. As Wittgenstein says with respect to another disturbing case: "Do I actually see the boy's hair blond in the photograph?-Do I see it grey? Do I only infer that whatever looks this way in the picture. so that. must in reality be blond? In one sense I see it blond. related troubles: Why is there no "brownhot"? Why is there no clear brown? Why no luminous gray? "Why is it that a dark yellow doesn't have to be perceived as 'blackish'. He invents some tribes worth thinking about. one has also to decide whether to bracket one's knowledge that it is glass. or gems? Worse. through it. say. and that glass behaves in such and such a way when placed before an object that in normal light looks such and such a color. is to pick one material as the touchstone for all color. the "real" color of something will be the color patch it would match if it were made of paint. But this would be a decision we make on grounds not inherent in the realm of color. and one that has only color-shape concepts. If we wanted to say the colour of the glass was also transparent in the painting.BOOK REVIEWS and persuaded that it was a patch of paint I might call it beige or dirty pink. one is tempted to set up a convention. which color do I really see it as? One's inclination. for instance." (III-271) Many of Wittgenstein's most intriguing remarks concern transparency." and who fail to understand the similarity we see. and match that to paint samples." (III-106) Wittgenstein also has many interesting remarks about the concept of "seeing. even if we call it dark? The logic of the concept of colour is just much. then. the colours would not be transparent on the palette. we would have to call the complex of colour patches which depict the glass its colour. Why is there no transparent white? Why can a substance not be white and clear? Why do we call glass colorless when." (1-18) Again. Yet if one attempts to stick to the color it appears at any specific time." and the condition of color-blindness. Remarks on Colour as a whole is more repetitive than other post119 .

Indeed.XC. e. Dordrecht. we need to supplement it with an account of how we get access 120 . Bursen first argues that this is not the only possible model. he argues. How is it that I am able to recall a melody I have heard before? A very compelling picture is that upon hearing the music. D. And the same thing could be done for the rhythm.. But even if memory could be in this way creative. No. was played by violins? Bursen doesn't answer this. This picture is so compelling that theorists have been led to feel that such a mechanism is the only possible explanation of memory. some sort of recording (called a "trace") is made in my brain. I now "supply" violins. e. but I substitute trumpets for the violins. Pp. unproblematical system. Reidel Publishing Company. Recall is or involves a playing back of this recording. at a later time I hear the piece in my head.. I don't have to be making use of a recording in my head for the violins either. but the point is that my ability to recall the tune doesn't necessitatesome sort of recording of the violin sound that I originally heard. the tempo. 157.50.BOOK REVIEWS humous works by Wittgenstein. $19. Suppose I hear an orchestral piece. Holland.g. rendition with trumpets (since I have never heard it with trumpets). In the same way that I "supplied" trumpets. MARCIA YUDKIN SmithCollege The Philosophical Review. By HOWARD ALEXANDER BURSEN. there doesn't seem to be any aspect of the original performance that would have to be recorded in order for me to be able.g. xiii. how do I know that the tune. "hearing" it as I originally heard it. 1979. 1 January 1981) DISMANTLING THE MEMORY MA CHINE. So Bursen turns next to a difficulty (as opposed to an alternative) for trace theory. But even if a trace theory of memory needn'tbe correct. and is likely to be most rewarding to people who already have a particular interest in color concepts and who will care about trying to unravel the many logical knots Wittgenstein brings to light in a realm that has often been considered to be a straightforward. still it might be. the loudness. etc. to hear it in my head as I first heard it. changing it back to the way I remember Since I don't need a recording for the it. In order for trace theory to work as an account of memory. Then I put violins back in.