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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The perception of colour has traditionally been considered fundamentally different, both in kind and in function, from the visual perception of other properties, such as shape, size, or ripeness as well as from the perception of objects such as triangles and goats. The traditional view of what makes colour unique among our visual percepts was first articulated by Aristotle. For him, colours are the proper objects of vision, they ground all other aspects of visual perception, and the perception of colour is so direct, the colours themselves enter the perceiver. This entry traces the history of colour perception theory as it discards various aspects of the Aristotelian view, while keeping two central theses: (1) if we did not see the colours, we could not see anything at all and (2) seeing colours is a matter of having a certain kind of sensory response to the world as opposed to constructing visual representations of it. The final section argues that current visual science gives us reason to discard these last remnants of Aristotle’s view.

Keywords: Colour, Perception, Sensation, History of Science, Neurophysiology of vision

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