Reid on Color
In his most sustained discussion of colour, Inquiry ch. 6, sects. iv–v, Reid argues that modern philosophers have made an important discovery about colour and an important mistake. Modern philosophers are right that colour experience involves an internal object of awareness, what Reid refers to either as ‘the sensation of colour’ or as ‘the appearance of colour’; they are wrong in supposing that our everyday colour terms are names of colour sensations. Both of Reid’s central claims about colour have come under attack recently. Some have complained that Reid should not have posited an internal object of awareness, something distinct from the colour seen. Others more sympathetic with Reid’s distinction between sensation and perception have questioned his thesis that our everyday colour terms are names of the surface properties of objects that cause our colour sensations rather than names of the colour sensations themselves. In what follows I will suggest that much of Reid’s reasoning on these issues is defensible and important. This paper is divided into two parts. In the rst part I explore Reid’s arguments for the existence of colour sensations. In the second I examine his claim that our colour terms are not names of our colour sensations.
Ganson, Todd. 2002. "Reid on Colour." British Journal for the History of Philosphy 10(2): 231-242.
Taylor & Francis
British Journal for the History of Philosophy