Everyone sees all colors the same

Do people perceive colors the same way?

You don't know! It is even likely that people actually perceive things differently, even colors. Phenomena such as color blindness indicate that some people cannot distinguish between red and green. This symptom proves that there are differences.

You could say: this is an exception. Color blindness is something “abnormal”, these people lack certain color receptors. But here we are quickly to the question, what is "normal"?

Even in the “normal range” there are differences

A little test that everyone can do themselves: Darken the room so that relatively little light shines into it. Then alternately close your left and right eyes. For many people, one eye is more sensitive to light than the other. It often happens that one eye perceives the world a little more colorful, especially in weak light, the other a little paler. Or the world appears a little more reddish in one eye.

In view of such phenomena the question arises: if there are small differences between the left and the right eye, how big can the differences be between two people? I also experience this at home: When my wife and I talk about a blue-green or turquoise-colored object, it happens that she describes the object more as blue, while I would just call it green.

Culture shapes perception

What we see on a small scale, cross-cultural studies have also shown on a large scale, namely that the assignment of certain color tones to color words is crucial: What else is blue? What is purple anyway? Where does yellow end? Where does orange or red begin? These boundaries are drawn differently in different cultures. There are even languages ​​that have no words at all for blue and green. It can be concluded from this that the speakers do not perceive these colors as independent hues.

Or think of the phenomenon of synesthesia: some people see numbers or words in color, although there are no colors at all. But your brain constructs these colors for other sensory perceptions. There is all of this. From a biological point of view, there is much to suggest that people perceive colors very differently.

Immediate perceptual impressions cannot be clearly described

In addition, this question has an epistemological dimension: Could it not be, for example, that the colors red and green are interchanged in our country? That you perceive the color red as I perceive the color green and vice versa? But that this does not lead to confusion, because we still use the same words for the same objects and their colors and therefore do not notice that we are seeing very different things?

This question is philosophically justified and in the end it cannot be answered. Because we are talking about direct perceptual impressions that we cannot clearly describe with words. And as long as no different actions follow from a different sensory perception, we cannot say anything about the inner life of another person. It would be plausible to assume that nature has equipped people in such a way that we perceive similar things in a similar way, but we cannot know that.

In purely theoretical terms, it could even be that no one except you or me perceives anything at all, that all other people give the impression that they are thinking and feeling beings, but in reality they are only zombies or robots cleverly programmed by aliens. There is a lot that speaks against it being that way, but - who knows?

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