Crikey. PooterGeek generated some controversy with my work colleagues today. You devote whole posts to attacking Robbie Williams and Oasis and the kids stay silent. Link to an analytical Marxist at a redbrick university or disrespec’ Wittgenstein in passing and they’re bursting into your office demanding satisfaction.
The point that I was making about Wittgenstein was that his Remarks on Colour was a classic example of a philosopher believing that he was musing on profound questions, but, in fact just failing to understand basic physics and biology and, as a result, writing cobblers. I chose Wittgenstein because he is a favourite of the students’ union bar wanker and rivals Stephen Hawking for being talked about without actually being read.
In the light of knowledge accumulated in series of simple experiments conducted at Imperial College on a small sample of graduate students, Wittgenstein’s book reads rather like someone agonizing in print over whether the Man in the Moon is made of Edam or Cheddar. These experiments “completed” our understanding of colour vision to the extent that they mapped the perceptual space of colour, as seen by young non-colourblind adults. Hello, philosophers! There is no problem about the consistency of the colour red from person to person—except when there is some defect of vision. Just leave it. It’s not an interesting matter for discussion on any level. If you would like to wade through the kind of angels-on-a-pin crap that entertains (and, God help us, employs) some people you could go here for a bit of a laugh.
I put Wittgenstein in apposition to Newton because Newton famously demonstrated that colour was a property not of an object but of the light reflected from it—something which Wittgenstein (despite his original training in engineering) seemed incompletely aware of hundreds of years later. It has been a good 6 or 7 years since I read Remarks on Colour, I must confess, so I may well be wrong, but not as wrong as cleverpants Ludwig.