The dictionary definition of colour describes the phenomena as'a sensation produced on the eye by rays of light when resolved into different wavelengths, as by a prism, selective reflection, etc.'1 ; inferring that the perception of colour is produced by a'sensation' caused by differing wavelengths of light acting on the eye rather than colour being a property inherent in the object being viewed. Light itself is also defined as'the natural agent that stimulates sight and makes things visible, and consists of electromagnetic radiation of wavelength between about 390 and 740 nm2 ', again the inference is that sight is stimulated within the viewer-subject by specific wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation and not from the object in itself. This view is the one of the subjectivist and is the dominant perceived wisdom of our time, however the philosophy of colour has conceived many and different theories as to the nature of colour and our perception of it, a few of which I'll!
Our world as we'see' it, is full of extended objects, three dimensional things with surfaces, each identifiable in part by their colour. Our view is of a bricolage of these coloured objects and our language refers to these objects in a way which imparts the idea of colour as being an integral primary attribute to these objects, ie a blue sky, a red bus and green grass. This view is obviously contrary to the definitions given from the dictionary but highlights the philosophical paradox about the nature of colour. What sort of a property is colour? Is it a quantitative, factual, physical property of the object or is it a qualitative, mental subjective property? These are two of the fundamental questions raised when trying to tackle the question of colour. So which is it to be? The commonest answers are thus:
colours are mental properties of visual states (subjectivism),
they are physical properties of physi…