Color for Philosophers: Unweaving the Rainbow by C. L. Hardin

By C. L. Hardin

This booklet is provided the 1986 Johnsonian Prize in Philosophy. This improved variation of C. L. Hardin's ground-breaking paintings on color incorporates a new bankruptcy, 'Further ideas: 1993', during which the writer revisits the dispute among color objectivists and subjectivists from the viewpoint of the ecology, genetics, and evolution of color imaginative and prescient, and brings to endure new facts on person variability in color conception.

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Extra resources for Color for Philosophers: Unweaving the Rainbow

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Unique red must be obtained by taking a spectral red and adding a dollop of short-wavelength ( "blue") light to it, so as to make the yellow-blue curve take a zero value. If we return to the far shortwave end of the spectrum, we notice that the redness response makes a surprising, though small, return. This is because this end of the spectrum is, in fact, violet (a reddish blue) rather than just blue . Why this is so is unclear, but there is some reason to suppose that S cones may provide an inhibitory contribu­ tion to M cones, thus altering the balance between L and M outputs (Ingling 1977) .

Simultaneous brightness contrast is very important in enabling us to assess the levels of the illumination of a scene . It was earlier re­ marked that the eye is capable of operating over a huge dynamic range of light intensities, on the order of ten trillion to one . But for 24 PERCEIVING LIGHTNESS AND DARKNESS any single scene with which the eye can deal, the intensity ratio of the brightest to the dimmest object rarely exceeds 200 to I, and this is about the limit of differences that can be signaled by a visual neu­ ron (Haber and Hershenson 1980, 50-51; Evans 1974, 195; Barlow and Mollon 1982, 102) .

By firelight as well as by sunlight, a piece of white paper looks white, a piece of coal black. Yet the sunlit lump of coal reflects a hun­ dred times more light than the firelit piece of paper. So, in many ways, objects retain their appearances despite great changes in illumi­ nation. Nevertheless, lightness constancy is certainly not perfect; we can easily distinguish firelight from sunlight and twilight from midday by appearances alone . We do this in many ways, but here are two of the more important: Noon reveals finer detail than twilight, and noon brings us greater subjective contrast, a longer distance from white to black, which is to say, more available shades of gray.

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