Sue Barry, a real-life Mary the neuroscientist

I'm sure this will be noted all over the philosophical regions of the blogosphere, but in the latest issue of the New Yorker, there is an example of a real person who basically fits Frank Jackson's famous example of Mary the neuroscientist -- though in this case, it is not color vision, but stereoscopic vision, that the person gains. The person is named Sue Barry, and she actually is a neurobiologist. Unfortunately, the article is not online.

(For those unfamiliar with Frank Jackson's thought-experiment, Mary is a neuroscientist of color who knows all the neuroscientific theories associated with color vision (even those theories that have not yet been discovered and formulated) -- but she is raised in a completely monochrome/ black-and-white environment. If Mary suddenly sees colors one day, does she have a fundamentally new experience? Does she learn anything? A recent book, There's Something about Mary (publisher's page, review in NDPR), is entirely devoted to issues involving this thought-experiment.)

1 comment:

Kenny said...

Too bad my New Yorker subscription is in the US right now!

Anyway, there's a painting in the MoMA in New York that I think could be relevant. I can't remember what it's called, but it's by Yves Klein (I think), and it's just a canvas painted a solid shade of blue. But it's a blue dye that he designed that is particularly intense, and I'm pretty sure that it doesn't transfer properly to film. So you can get the experience of seeing a color that you've never seen before, and see how new it seems.