In Anders Steinvall & Sarah Streets (eds.), Cultural History of Color in the Modern Age. London: Bloomsbury. pp. 21-38 (2021)

Jacob Browning
New York University
The study of color expanded rapidly in the 20th century. With this expansion came fragmentation, as philosophers, physicists, physiologists, psychologists, and others explored the subject in vastly different ways. There are at least two ways in which the study of color became contentious. The first was with regard to the definitional question: what is color? The second was with the location question: are colors inside the head or out in the world? In this chapter, we summarize the most prominent answers that color scientists and philosophers gave to the definitional and location questions in the 20th century. We identify some of the different points at which their work intersected, as well as the most prominent schisms between them. One overarching theme of the chapter is the surprising proliferation of different views on color. Whereas some assume that progress in science must take the form of convergence, the 20th century history of color exhibited a marked divergence in views. This chapter leaves it an open question whether an ultimate unification of views is possible, or whether the only thing that ties together the study of “color” is the shared inheritance of a word.
Keywords Philosophy of Color  Color Science  Science of Perception  Qualia  Philosophy of Science  Realism
Categories (categorize this paper)
Buy the book Find it on
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Principia Ethica.George Edward Moore - 1903 - Dover Publications.
Science, Perception and Reality.Wilfrid Sellars (ed.) - 1963 - New York: Humanities Press.
Epiphenomenal Qualia.Frank Jackson - 1982 - Philosophical Quarterly 32 (April):127-136.

View all 32 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Science of Color and Color Vision.Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert - 2021 - In Fiona Macpherson & Derek Brown (eds.), Routledge Handbook of the Philosophy of Colour. London: Routledge.
Color Relationalism and Relativism.Alex Byrne & David R. Hilbert - 2017 - Topics in Cognitive Science 9 (1):172-192.
Color Experience: A Semantic Theory.Mohan Matthen - 2010 - In Jonathan Cohen & Mohan Matthen (eds.), Color Ontology and Color Science. MIT Press. pp. 67--90.
Qualia Compression.Lieven Decock & Igor Douven - 2013 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 87 (1):129-150.
Color: A Functionalist Proposal.Cohen Jonathan - 2003 - Philosophical Studies 113 (1):1-42.


Added to PP index

Total views
74 ( #155,786 of 2,505,154 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
50 ( #17,192 of 2,505,154 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes