There’s a planet flat
up against the half-moon out
side my door tonight.
Someone will pipe up:
it’s totally subjective.
Someone will look back.
Both of them won’t see
the cloud move from under it
to over, above,
Category Archives: Philosophy
Frank Jackson’s Mary was a brilliant scientist of the mid-to-late twentieth century; a scientist who specialised in the neurophysiology of vision, to be precise. Not much is known about Mary. None of her personal diaries have been seen; nor does it seem – despite 40 years of debates about what she knew, or exactly when she knew it – that anyone bothered to ask if she’d been keeping a diary. It’s fair to assume that we’ll never know what Mary truly experienced when she saw those first colours pierce at her eyes; nevertheless, we all have a duty to make every effort to see what she saw through her eyes. So let’s make a start at it then; shall we?
By reports, Mary had never seen colours: black and white only.
Mary was “forced to investigate the world from a black and white room via a black and white television monitor” (Qualia: The Knowledge Argument; The Basic Idea).
Now, unless Mary was born without colour perception – a possibility, we must at least suppose – Mary was born in a black and white room; the same room that Mary was forced to work from until she was deemed free to see what everyone else was permitted to see.
Of course, by everyone else we mean just those whom Mary was made from her black and white room to observe with the tools of her specialty. Nurturally, by the tools of Mary’s specialty we mean the tools her captors taught her to use. Naturally, we mean the tools Mary was born with; or her speciality.
In any case, before we delve any further into the details of Mary’s enforced conditions, can we not agree:
if Mary “acquires … all the neurophysical information there is to obtain about what goes on when we see ripe tomatoes, or the sky, and use terms like ‘red’, ‘blue’, and so on” (italics mine); Mary knows deep down inside her that she’s being denied the kind of neurophysical experience that she can see happening inside the neurophysiologies of the people she’s studying?
Love to hear your thoughts.
I built this image, from a composite of photos taken with my Canon EOS 450D, in response to a few points of controversy I’ve read raised both in attack and defense of Doug Rickard’s ‘A New American Picture’. Technically speaking, no screen caps or prt scs were used.
Since there is plenty of opinion easily Googleable on the controversy, I feel no way inclined to offer my own. I’d rather just publish the photo under my standard Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License and let anyone who’s interested go Google some opinions, or make of it what they will if that’s their preference; but
I’m aware that these days we’re all expected to justify what we put out there with nice tidy summaries of where our work’s coming from, so people know how to approach it. I think that sux – as a rule – but I still have a problem with ‘art’ (or whatever you call it) that’s put out there without the source* watermark present.
There’s little worse than to be stuck with two or more principles of action that don’t fit together, so I’m just going to make one up now that I can live by until tomorrow.
Art is anything I can get away with doing in such a way that nobody but me (and people like me) can see the source watermark I intentionally left there, because ‘Art’ must always be imbued with intention.
At this point I notice there’s no Google watermark in the photo I published above, but I’m sure I have shown it back, rightfully, in there. I would have pasted one of their own watermarks back in for good measure, but that might have taken me the final tad too far.