Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: December 16, 2009 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412972000 | Print ISBN: 9781412940818 | Online ISBN: 9781412972000| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Mary the Color Scientist
Mary the color scientist is a version of the knowledge argument , a line of reasoning that is widely regarded as a serious challenge to physicalism (also known as materialism ), the popular philosophical theory that the world is entirely physical. Imagine a time far in the future, when the science of color vision has been completed. Everything that can be known through biology, chemistry, physics, and so on has been discovered. Mary is a brilliant scientist who knows all of that information. But she was raised in an entirely black-and-white room and has never seen colors. She learned the science by reading books and watching lectures on a black-and-white television monitor. One day she leaves the room and finally sees colors. Does she learn anything new? It seems intuitively clear that she does: She learns what it is like to see in color. If so, then it is hard ...