Say PersonX sees Red as Blue. He will NOT notice the difference between him and regular folks since he will start to refer to what he sees as Blue as "Red", but other people would see it as Red, thus avoiding confusion. Also say that PersonY sees Red as Green.From Result-3, notice that both PersonX and PersonY refer to the car as "red", while each one of them sees a different color. They superficially agree about the color of the car being refer to as "red", while to each one of them the word "red" refers to different visual experiences (blue for Person X, and green for PersonY).
Now, one year later:
- Imagine PersonX and PersonY as a baby brothers (with no knowledge of language).
- In front of them is a red apple.
- PersonX sees a blue apple.
- PersonY sees a green apple.
- Their parents refer to the apple as "red".
- PersonX learns that the word "red", represents what he sees as blue color. (Result-1)
- PersonY learns that the word "red", represents what he sees as green color. (Result-2)
- Imagine PersonX and PersonY having learnt language.
- PersonX sees a blue car.
- The car is actually red. (Since PersonX sees red as blue)
- PersonX says: "This red car looks amazing". (He says "red" because of Result-1)
- When PersonY hears the term "red car", he visualizes a green car. (Because of Result-2)
- PersonY agrees that the "red car" is amazing. (Result-3)
The above mentioned scenario reveals the shocking possibility that we might use consistent notation to represent our ideas, but those representations are not the same for all people. More importantly, there is a good chance that we superficially agree!! How can anyone be sure that when they refer to a certain experience by a certain word that others actually use the same word to represent that same experience?! I guess, we cannot!
Now assume that the visual experience of the color Blue is good, and that the visual experience of the color Red is ugly.In this scenario, using Result-4, disagreement is only superficial, because they disagree about what the term "red" refers to, not the visual experience itself, as PersonX and other people have different visual experiences.
- PersonX sees blue color as a good experience.
- Regular people see red color as an ugly experience.
- When presented by a red object, PersonX argues that its "red" color looks good. (Since he sees blue color)
- Other people disagree with PersonX stating that the "red" color looks ugly. (Result-4)
So when we study Wittgenstein's quote:
"If a lion could talk, we could not understand him." (source)We realize that the "understanding" that Wittgenstein refers to deals with deep meaning, not superficial meaning.
Communication in any form -or any language- is a communication of representations. We communicate representations of our feelings and ideas NOT the ideas and feelings themselves. It is impossible to communicate ideas, only representations of those ideas. This problem of representation is the basis of Representational Skepticism. Representationalism (study of the relation between reality and representations) is the main concern of cognitive sciences in general.
In this series:
Language Acquisition - Part 1: General Discussion
Language Acquisition - Part 2: The Influence Of Physiological Formation
Language Acquisition - Part 3: Deep Structure Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 4: Ambiguities
Language Acquisition - Part 5: The Problem Of Representation
Language Acquisition - Part 6: Linguistic Determinism Hypothesis
Language Acquisition - Part 7: Possible Applications For The Investigation