Do we "see" black objects in the same sense that we see objects of other colors? Black objects being those which reflect no light, how is looking at a black object different than closing your eyes (it seems absurd to say that we see anything with our eyes closed); in either case, no light reflects from the object to our eyes. If I have a white piece of paper with a black spot on it, do I "see" the spot, or do I infer it?

This question reminds me of an experience I had going to rent a tuxedo. I told the clerk I wanted a black tuxedo, and he responded with the question, "What shade of black?"

I suppose the answer here depends upon what you mean by "see" and by "black." I'm inclined to think that all "seeing" of objects involves a kind of inference or judgment. That is one judges what one sees to be an object. Does it really matter whether the physical cause of what one sees and hence the basis of judgment is light or the absence of light? I'm not sure I see why.

What my haberdasher taught me, however, should also be said. That when we see some "black" object, we really don't see utter colorlessness. We see all kinds of shades of gray, etc., so much so that one might argue that we never really see a purely black object (unless one is staring a black hole, I suppose, which perhaps isn't really an object, anyway). We also see boundaries with other hues, as well as shadows and patterns of motion and interaction with other objects--all of which inform our judgment that a black object is before us.

Read another response by Peter S. Fosl
Read another response about Perception