Sorry to have let things slide. I grant the cognitive scientists the observation that human beings construct even color "in the brain," but I don't think this is as corrosive to philosophy as you seem to think. That's because philosophy, as I understand it, is about how we live in the world & we don't live in the world that cognitive science describes. It is one of those useful but limited reductionisms we have talked about before. And it is interesting. I recall hearing an account years ago of a woman who regained her sight after a long period of blindness: she literally had to learn to see all over again; that is, she had to learn to organize her visual field in a coherent way so she wouldn't walk into shadows on a wall thinking they were empty space.

This afternoon I went out with the dogs & noticed that the maple trees on our property were beginning to turn color--nothing unusual about that this time of year, except that the color was not the usual fall red, but a kind of baked-out brown. We haven't had any rain in weeks & it's been hot. I was thinking about your account of the way Hoffman describes the perception of color: "Instead you construct several visual properties at once, and try to make them all mutually consistent: you organize your visual world into objects, you endow those objects with three-dimensional shapes, place light sources that illuminate those objects, and assign color to both the light sources and the objects. As always, images are infinitely ambiguous. There are countless ways that you could interpret an image in terms of objects, their shapes, their colors, and their illuminants." As I said: granted. But I was also thinking about voting this afternoon. I'm a compulsive voter, even when it makes no rational difference, as was the case today. I especially like voting out here in South Colton because it is very freaking rural & I know all the ladies who man the single voting booth at the Town Hall. As I was leaving, I commented that the weather had been "Nice, but a little dry." They seemed disappointed in me: "We really need rain," one said & it was clear that this city boy had no idea of how important rain was to the late corn & pumpkins & to the shallow wells most of us (me included) use for water out here. It was one of those moments in which a slightly errant member of a society is brought around to a new & better understanding of the way things are.

So in addition to Hoffman the cognitive scientist I was thinking of my neighbors as I noted the changing color of the leaves. I submit that Hoffman's account is, though true, largely irrelevant to the way we live. And as for my earlier claim about "underlying reality," though I am dissatisfied with the phrase, I remain committed to the idea that the fall leaves this year are different in color from those I saw last year & that the cause is less rain. It rains in the world, not in our brains.


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