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Wittgenstein's Remarks on Colour

Marie McGinna1

a1 University of York

The task of giving some sort of interpretation of Wittgenstein's Remarks on Colour is an extraordinarily difficult one. The book is exceptionally fragmentary. Many of the remarks seem to raise questions that are then left completely unanswered, or to invite us to imagine various circumstances that are then left without any further comment. Although nearly all the remarks are related in one way or another to the problem of colour, the range of topics that Wittgenstein touches on is extremely wide, and covers areas that are not normally mentioned in contemporary philosophical discussions of colour. For example, apart from the familiar ‘Why can't there be a transparent white?’ and ‘Why can't there be a reddish-green?’, he asks ‘Can a transparent piece of glass have the same colour as an opaque piece of paper?’, ‘Is white always the lightest colour?’, ‘Do I see blond hair in the black and white photograph of a blond youth?’, ‘Does it make sense to point to a colour in the iris of a Rembrandt eye and ask for the walls of my room to be painted the same colour?’, ‘Do the colour-blind have the same concept of colour-blindness as the normally sighted?’, ‘Can normal vision be described?’, and so on.