Logica Universalis

, Volume 6, Issue 1–2, pp 227–248 | Cite as

Logic and Colour

  • Dany JaspersEmail author


In this paper evidence will be provided that Wittgenstein’s intuition about the logic of colour relations is to be taken near-literally. Starting from the Aristotelian oppositions between propositions as represented in the logical square of oppositions on the one hand and oppositions between primary and secondary colors as represented in an octahedron on the other, it will be shown algebraically how definitions for the former carry over to the realm of colour categories and describe very precisely the relations obtaining between the known primary and secondary colours. Linguistic evidence for the reality of the resulting isomorphism will be provided. For example, the vertices that resist natural single-item lexicalization in logic (such as the O-corner, for which there is no natural lexicalization *nall (=not all)) are not naturally lexicalized in the realm of colour terms either. From the perspective of the architecture of cognition, the isomorphism suggests that the foundations of logical oppositions and negation may well be much more deeply rooted in the physiological structure of human cognition than is standardly assumed.

Mathematics Subject Classification (2010)

Primary 03B45 03B10 03B65 03G05 Secondary 05C99 47H05 


Logical square logical hexagon Aristotelian relations of opposition contradiction contrariety entailment 


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Copyright information

© Springer Basel AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CRISSP HUBrussels, FormL KULeuvenBrusselsBelgium

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