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Perceptual Concretes

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I had someone hostile to Objectivism ask me, a few years ago, what measurement is omitted to form the concept "color."

I responded then that color was directly perceivable, a perceptual concrete, and the only thing one need omit was any specific color. I wasn't satisfied with my answer and am still not.

If anyone has the interest, would you mind pointing out the elephantine (and no doubt rationalistic) error I seem to be overlooking.

Thanks.

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what measurement is omitted to form the concept "color."?

I responded then that color was directly perceivable, a perceptual concrete, and the only thing one need omit was any specific color.  I wasn't satisfied with my answer and am still not.

I think you are correct to say that the specific color is the omitted measurement for the concept 'color'. But I believe it is incorrect to say that 'color' is directly perceivable. Color isn't a percept, but Blue, Green, and Red (etc..) are perceptually given.

In other words, I would say 'color' is a first level concept and 'green' is a directly perceivable, perceptual concrete.

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Ken wrote: "In other words, I would say 'color' is a first level concept and 'green' is a directly perceivable, perceptual concrete."

Ah ha! I kinda sorta figured that was my error, but wasn't sure. Thank you, Ken.

Jeez, that was quick. Almost like Google. :)

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In other words, I would say 'color' is a first level concept and 'green' is a directly perceivable, perceptual concrete.
I would move that up a notch, and say that "color" is a second level concept and "green" is a first level concept, since it does integrate a range of similar but perceptibly distinct color percepts (as are "red", "blue" and so on).

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I had someone hostile to Objectivism ask me, a few years ago, what measurement is omitted to form the concept "color."

The omitted measurements would be all the particular colors (red, green, blue, etc.) and all the particular instances of colored entities.

I responded then that color was directly perceivable, a perceptual concrete, and the only thing one need omit was any specific color.

I think you mean that particular colors (red, green blue, etc.) are directly perceivable. Color is a higher-level abstraction.

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I think you are correct to say that the specific color is the omitted measurement for the concept 'color'. But I believe it is incorrect to say that 'color' is directly perceivable. Color isn't a percept, but Blue, Green, and Red (etc..) are perceptually given.

In other words, I would say 'color' is a first level concept and 'green' is a directly perceivable, perceptual concrete.

Actually, your "directly perceivable, perceptual concrete" is what is meant by a first-level concept. The concept "color" is a higher-level abstraction. Ayn Rand once noted that one good test for a first-level concept is whether you can understand or communicate the concept without reference to other preceding concepts. If you can just point to it and say "this is what I mean," then you have a first-level concept. So particular colors (red, green, blue, etc.) would be first-level concepts, but "color" would be a higher-level concept.

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I would move that up a notch, and say that "color" is a second level concept and "green" is a first level concept, since it does integrate a range of similar but perceptibly distinct color percepts (as are "red", "blue" and so on).

Does the concept "color" actually integrate "percepts," or does it integrate "units," with the units being the concepts of particular colors?

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Stephen wrote: I think you mean that particular colors (red, green blue, etc.) are directly perceivable. Color is a higher-level abstraction.

That's certainly what I should have meant. :)

I want to thank all of you for taking the time to explain something so basic that I'm retroactively embarrassed I asked. :)

However, my embarrassment passed; had I not asked, my ignorance would have been permanent. :D

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Since colors cannot exist except as belonging to an entity, wouldn't the entities themselves be omitted measurements, meaning that they must belong to some entity, but may belong to any entity?

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Since colors cannot exist except as belonging to an entity, wouldn't the entities themselves be omitted measurements, meaning that they must belong to some entity, but may belong to any entity?

I think this is OK in the broad sense but strictly speaking, the measurements that are omitted by a given concept must lie within a common category (or categories), what Miss Rand called the conceptual common denominator (CCD). She defined the CCD as "The characteristic(s) reducible to a unit of measurement, by means of which man differentiates two or more existents from other existents possessing it" (ITOE p. 14). The CCD in the case of color is hue (ibid.).

There are some relevant exhanges in the Appendix of ITOE if you are interested in reading more on this (especially pp. 137-40).

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I understand. I'll reread that section of the appendix.

I would say that in my concept of color there are more omitted measurements than just hue, however (such as brightness and saturation). Being in the printing industry, my knowledge of color is greater than the norm.

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I think this is OK in the broad sense but strictly speaking, the measurements that are omitted by a given concept must lie within a common category (or categories), what Miss Rand called the conceptual common denominator (CCD). She defined the CCD as "The characteristic(s) reducible to a unit of measurement, by means of which man differentiates two or more existents from other existents possessing it" (ITOE p. 14). The CCD in the case of color is hue (ibid.).

I disagree, Ray, although I should point out that I have revealed my ignorance in nearly every single post I have made so far on epistemology, and I am sure this post won't buck the trend. :) The omitted measurements include not just those pertaining to the CCD, but all irrelevant measurements:

[A child] forms the concept "table" by retaining that characteristic [of a flat, level surface and support(s)] and omitting all particular measurements, not only the measurements of the shape, but of all the other characteristics of tables. (emphasis in original)

The CCD is used to distinguish some existents from others in a wider category; in the example above, the CCD is shape; in the case of color, it is hue (these are both taken from ITOE, p15). This requires that all colors, for instance, have the commensurable measurement of hue in order to distinguish green from red (but not from square). But this does not mean that other characteristics of a red entity are retained in the concept "red" just because those characteristics are incommensurable with hue.

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I would say that in my concept of color there are more omitted measurements than just hue, however (such as brightness and saturation).

And notice from the definition that the CCD can involve several characteristics such that your description is consonant with what I described.

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I disagree, Ray...The omitted measurements include not just those pertaining to the CCD, but all irrelevant measurements...

...all colors, for instance, have the commensurable measurement of hue in order to distinguish green from red (but not from square).  But this does not mean that other characteristics of a red entity are retained in the concept "red" just because those characteristics are incommensurable with hue.

Good point. In my defense, I didn't mean to imply that such characteristics were retained. That's what I meant by "the broad sense." I was just focusing on the narrower context which has been the subject of this thread so far.

You're right to bring this up though, Doug, because it sounds like that was exactly the sense that Dave was querying about. And the quote that you included was helpful to me at least. :)

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Ayn Rand once noted that one good test for a first-level concept is whether you can understand or communicate the concept without reference to other preceding concepts. If you can just point to it and say "this is what I mean," then you have a first-level concept.

In addition, I use what I call my "Five Year-Old Test." Very few five year-olds can reliably form abstractions from abstractions, so any concept that is generally understood by children under that age is first-level and ostensively defined. Concepts that pass the Five Year-Old Test include seemingly very abstract ideas like concepts referring to time, size, and other measurements. Most pre-schoolers know exactly what you mean by "big" and "slow" and "later."

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Does the concept "color" actually integrate "percepts," or does it integrate "units," with the units being the concepts of particular colors?
I would unquestionably say that "color" does not integrate percepts (directly), but integrates concepts, and the units it integrates are specific color concepts such as "red", "green", "black"... The concept "green" integrates (at least indirectly) various sensations. All concepts integrate units (as opposed to things); if the implicit question is whether a concept can integrate units and percepts, the answer would be "yes", since percepts are units (though I have not though though that relation previously, so I won't stake my life or paycheck on that). I'm leaving open the question whether "green" actually integrates various concepts, because of a rumor that some people have clear conceptual differentiation in what I understand to be one concept, "green". It's a guy thing, I think.

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Does the concept "color" actually integrate "percepts," or does it integrate "units," with the units being the concepts of particular colors?]

I would unquestionably say that "color" does not integrate percepts (directly), but integrates concepts, and the units it integrates are specific color concepts such as "red", "green", "black"... The concept "green" integrates (at least indirectly) various sensations. All concepts integrate units (as opposed to things); if the implicit question is whether a concept can ...]

My "question" was just a polite way to draw attention to where you previously misspoke in saying, about the concept color, that "it does integrate a range of similar but perceptibly distinct color percepts."

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My "question" was just a polite way to draw attention to where you previously misspoke in saying, about the concept color, that "it does integrate a range of similar but perceptibly distinct color percepts."
I understand now: that was a statement about "green", not "color". You'd think someone in my business would pay more attention to the ambiguity of pronouns. Oh well....

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I understand now: that was a statement about "green", not "color". You'd think someone in my business would pay more attention to the ambiguity of pronouns. Oh well....

Now that you mentioned an "ambiguity of pronouns," having gone back to read it again with that in mind, it makes more sense to interpret it the way you meant. First time around I did not read it your way. Sorry.

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