8.27.2002

[58, 59] Color terms are opportunities to examine the complexity of word to object relations. Red is neither timeless nor indestructible. When we say "red exists," we are talking about a range of shades, giving red duration, describing our relation to things, offering "a proposition about our use of language.." Where does "red exist"? We want to say that it does not exist in some world of forms, but rather in language. But when we say that red exists in language, we do so maintaining a separation between language and the world of objects (some of which are red). This is the habit that needs to be broken. We need to eliminate the language/world duality and see them as either one or as entwined (distinguishable, not separable). Indeed, perhaps what Wittgenstein is driving at is that there is a similarity between the relations of color to an object and language to world.

The fact that Mars is red is neither timeless nor indestructible, then. In our language-game, Mars is red. But we could imagine another language-game where red is blue. Color terms, although they have been codified over time, retain an arbitrariness.

In 59, Wittgenstein asserts that our relation to reality is constructive. We create what we see. The effect is something like the erasure of the line between fiction and non-fiction: Our world does not have to be this way. We could construct it entirely differently tomorrow. The rules we use to construct our reality evolved because they embellish our capacity to cope with the dynamic nature of our world by hiding that nature.

Think about what happens to science in Wittgenstein's perspective. All the certitude science produces is based on a natural world that is itself a product of conventions. The colonic is not for philosophers only.

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