I see the color red

  • Painting: oil on canvas
  • Size: 24Hx24Wx2 inches

Wittgenstein in his Philosophical Grammar said, “It’s in language that it’s all done. ‘I couldn’t think that something is red if “red” [the word] didn’t exist.’ What that proposition really means is the image of something red, or the existence of a red sample as part of our language.” And further on he specifies, “I say that, ‘I see what I see’ because I don’t want to give a name to what I see… No, that isn’t a representation in painting of the meaning of the word ‘red’ (there’s no such thing)… Is the proposition compatible with any experience I may have? If so, it says nothing.” According to Wittgenstein, we possess meaning by agreement. So what if there is a gap in that agreement, a lacuna – a flaw – a canvas peeking out from behind. And what if we disagree on these two words, “red” and “canvas”? If we fail, stronger yet, if we do not name what we see, what is it that we experience? My elementary science lessons taught me that black is the absence of all color, i.e., the entire light spectrum. If black encroaches on my agreement of what I see, say, in the modification of consciousness, and I say, “I see what I see,” what do I see?

I See the Color Red
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