Friday, January 22, 2010

Your Red My Green

One day I saw an apple and "felt" its red color and asked my friend what color do you see? He said "I had my color blindness test done already, but if you wanna know its red". Then I asked "Well yes you say it is red but can I know that you actually seeing my green and calling it red?". He came near me checked my pulse asked me to count his fingers... and said I am driving home.

If you are still reading this that means you didn't think it was a stupid question and want to know more, or may be you are as idle as me and just hoping this to turn out a fine joke at the end. Anyway you are here and let me make my question a little bit clear. For this you have to travel with me to an alternate universe, where every one is born with special lens over their eyes. These lenses convert any alphabet to a different symbol. For example, I in this alternate universe see "@" when I see "a" and you see "#" when you see the same "a". Our teacher in school writes "a" on board and pronounce "a". Now we both listen the same sound for "a" but perceive different symbols. I don't have any way of knowing what you perceive but you say the same sound when you see it. So I conclude you see "@". You similarly have no way of knowing what I perceive and think I also see "#". Our teacher is proud because we have learned to recognize and speak our first alphabet. We are two happy friends just playing with ideas as to what we can achieve with this alphabet and what more when we'll learn all alphabets.

But the second day things change. We are now discussing how "a" actually looks like. I start explaining "Well its a round shape, a circle in circle ...", you cut me in between and say "hold on .. there is nothing round in it. Its only straight lines." And there goes our friendship. We try to understand each other first but how can it be that the same symbol which we call with same sound "feels" different to you. Its plane "illogical". We split, go on our separate paths trying to understand and preach. Some people start following me and some to you. The situation first simmers and simmers but there comes along some bright minds that say only one of us can be right. So all those who don't see what we see should be killed, for they are lying and creating confusion. And so it begins .... "THE END".

"Oh! such a horrible alternate universe you took me into" you'll say. But what I have just shown you, might just happen if people are able to tell shapes of colors. Lucky that we cant. We can see the color, say the word we have for it but we cant explain just actually what we see. There is simply no way to tell that, when presented with an apple("a"), I see it yellow ("@") and you green ("#") but both us will exclaim ... "RED". Phew!!! I think I explained it didn't I?

You are still here. Very brave of you. You still think it will turn out a nice joke right? Anyway let us move further then. If you feel lucky that you are not in that freak alternate universe then just look around and you'll see that actually you are into such a universe!! Only you are not born with those freak lenses for alphabets but yes you'll find one thing in particular that resembles that.... "RELIGION", "GOD", "ENLIGHTENMENT" well we have many words for that but we all feel different about it. A sadhu sitting alone in a Himalayan cave might experience ecstasy which a man might feel when he is deep into playing a musical instrument or a hungry child eating a rotten bread after a month of hunger. The list goes on. We all "see" the same thing but "perceive" or "feel" it differently. Then we come back from the experience and try to share it with the world "in words" and yes we find many who felt the same "in words". We do our best to define the shape of what we "saw". And here comes another group who "saw" a different "shape" for the same "color". And so we have our Crusades, terrorists, human bombs, etc all because the world must consist of people who see only one aspect of the infinite, only one face of the infinitely sided dice, only one color from the rainbow of infinite colors.

So my friend, if we can live happily without the knowledge of whether you see "green" what I see as "red" then why cant we live happily together if you and me believe in different GOD or religion? Why cant we just try to make our own lives better and leave others to mend their own in the best way they find they can do. The ease with which you are reading this blog wouldn't have been possible if we all followed the same paths. No inventions, no discoveries. We would still be animals hunting in jungle, if some of our forefathers wouldn't have thought and acted differently.

I expect comments both for and against my ideas and am happy for it because I believe you see something different that I cant and we both can make the rainbow of ideas stand magnificent by adding our colors to it.


  1. Awesome way to preach the significance of Unity in Diversity.

  2. If Cartman reads this blog, He will say to Kyle :

    It's not that i dont like you Kyle but you, the Jews, are responsible for the war in the middle east thats why i keep reminding you.
    Go and watch The Passion Of Christ and then you believe me.

    You see Kyle, you dont understand - I am not fat, I'm just big-boned.. you see!!

    And one more important thing Kyle,we should keep feeding Kenny. He becomes color blinded
    if nobody feeds him.

  3. Wow... i see it as a Jalebi... something orange in color (my favorite color) but not something intensely convoluted..!!! too good!!!

    - Ashutosh

  4. Long unsolved puzzle - of two people perceiving the same thing differently yet calling the same! I remember we discussing this. But the conflict between religions is because of reason the other way round - perceiving the same thing but calling it differently!? Right!? Indeed if it was as with colors, there would not have been conflict.

    Now 'Avatar' comes to my mind - am still with that...:) The so called "3D effect" is just actually perception. Can't it be that a museum is designed in such a way where they keep both - real objects and people and seemingly "real objects and people" out of "3D effect" and you can't tell the difference? Now they differ in that we can touch some and can't touch others!

    What I want to say? I lost track..its past midnight! Sorry!

    Very good post! Typical Nitinal! Hope to know you more and have a record at the same time...Kudos to you our Tin Philospher!

  5. Thanks for the comments. And Sushant, from what I've read and experienced, even in religion people "perceive" differently. Logically also you cannot perceive the infinite with your finite senses. Whatever one experiences is just one small part of the infinite. Its like five blindfolded men groping the elephant and trying to figure out what it is. Some people say GOD is formless, others say he has form. Some have a goal of merging with the formless, some want to serve the one with the form. Some want to live in heaven while some want to lose themselves forever. The list goes on and on. But actually all are right and all are wrong at the same time!!

  6. If your red is my green then your blog is my empty space man!

  7. There is a bit of a difference inn your analogies. You see the red/green issue is such that it is based solely on "qualia" a thing that only the individual possesses access to. In all other ways your red and your friends red are absolutely indistinguishable, in theory. If I say "point to the red object" you both will. If I ask you to describe the colour you will both describe it in a similar manner, such descriptions being fairly subjective.

    Some people see this concept as being proof (or something approaching proof) of the dualist concept of consciousness, that the mind is something separate from the body.
    Personally I doubt it is true and even if it is I do not see it as being very relevant to dualism.