What is colour? We think we know because we all experience it and it seems an intuitive phenomenon. However, colour is not the property of any object as we may believe; it is something created by mind.

The Nature of COLOUR Perception

Part of the mind’s eye model we take for granted includes the experience of colour and because the mind augments this in such a way that objects are assigned individual colours, it is understandable that most people would think the colour is simply transmitted from each respective object.

Although the objects do not have colour, they do transmit waves of a certain frequency and these ultimately correlate to colour experiences that arise at the end of the process. Given that the “out there” we perceive is clearly not what is experienced, but a model based on information that creates a useful approximation (interpretation) it is small wonder that the objects we think we are seeing are radically different from what they are if human perception was taken out of the equation.

Invisible wavelengths reach our eye and the first stage of colour creation occurs when the three retinal cones take in information about these wavelengths. These three cone types register wavelengths in the red, green and blue frequencies and the resulting information travels down the optic nerve as electrochemical signals that are correlates of the experience the mind will create that we know as colour.

This means when you look at a red rose; the red is mind created and not something that would be there regardless of some conscious observer. Just as pain relies upon sense perception and a sentient being, so does colour experience.

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The fact that the map is not the territory and that the brain is sat in perfect darkness (and so no raw information enters it) provides all the evidence we should need to prove colour is mind made. However, because the augmentation happens before we experience our mind’s eye model of “out there” we can be forgiven for believing what we experience as being the truth rather than accept what is revealed through a deeper explanation.

Accordingly, most will need to see further evidence in order to be convinced that colour is not a physical world phenomenon, but is manufactured by minds.

One of the compelling pieces of evidence is that other creatures have a different number of cone types in their retinas, which means that the wavelength information will create very different signals that are the correlates of the colour experience and so when they see a red rose, the experience will certainly differ. This means that their minds will augment a colour experience that is just as valid but is very different.

There is no reason to suppose human perception produces a facsimile and the other creature experiences a deviation from truth. Both experiences are equally valid and therefore the red rose will seem to have a different colour based on all of this. In short, the red of the red rose is not a fixed property, unlike the wavelengths giving rise to experience and so it is clearly minds that make colours.

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There are numerous more pieces of evidence explored in my upcoming book, The Meaning of Life, many of them presented though the use of optical illusions.

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