Color Does Not Exist, Professor Says

Fact checked

A new book named ‘Outside Color’ by author Dr Mazviita Chirimuuta suggests that color is an illusion and doesn’t exist outside of our minds. 

The book says that light does exist and the mind transforms light into what we perceive as color. reports:

‘Of all the properties that objects appear to have,’writes the University of Pittsburgh professor, ‘colour hovers uneasily between the subjective world of sensation and the objective world of fact.’

Optical illusions, such as the blue and black dress that went viral this year, show how objects have colours that observers perceive differently.

The New Republic notes that, like a seal that leaves a stamp in hot wax, an object’s color leaves its imprint temporarily on our eye.

This means if you’re looking at an image that is consistent with your past experiences, your brain behaves as if the objects in the current images are also real in the same way.

‘If we step back a moment,’ Chirimuuta writes, ‘we can appreciate how very weird it is to even expect there to be a connection between the manifest visual world, brought to us by our senses, and the rarefied scientific image of a world made up of physical particles.

But it’s not just about lighting conditions or optical illusions – evidence is mounting that until we have a way to describe something, we may not see its there.

Ancient languages, for instance, didn’t have a word for blue and scientists believe as a result our ancestors didn’t notice the colour even existed.

According to Business Insider’s Kevin Loria, in ‘The Odyssey,’ Greek poet Homer famously describes the ‘wine-dark sea.’

In 1858 William Gladstone, who later became the British prime minister, counted the colour references in the Homer’s Odyssey and found blue wasn’t mentioned at all.

Black is mentioned nearly 200 times and white about 100. Red, meanwhile, is mentioned fewer than 15 times, and yellow and green fewer than 10.

It wasn’t just the Greeks. Blue also doesn’t appear in the Koran, ancient Chinese stories, and an ancient Hebrew version of the Bible, according to a German philologist named Lazarus Geiger.

Several years ago, researchers showed some of the Himba tribe a circle with 11 green squares and one blue.

The study found they could not pick out which one was different from the others, or took much longer to make sense of it.

However, the same tribe has many different words for green. When they were shown squares with one green a different shade, they could pick it out immediately.

Another study focused on how Russian speakers have separate words for light blue (goluboy) and dark blue (siniy).

MIT recruited 50 people from the Boston area in Massachusetts, half of whom were native Russian speakers.

They found they were 10 per cent faster at distinguishing between light (goluboy) blues and dark (siniy) blues than at discriminating between blues within the same shade category.

Colour doesn’t exist – at least not in the literal sense. Light, however, does exist, and it’s the mind that transforms that light into colour. In this image the two squares appear to be a different colour, but if you place your finger across the middle of the blocks you can see they are the same colour