Call for papers

Itinera, 19 (2020)

Colour for Philosophers

«If you show a red rag to a bull it becomes angry» Goethe writes, «but a philosopher begins to rage as you merely speak of colour». Colours are so familiar to us that we don’t expect that they can be so puzzling and disconcerting. From Hume's missing shade of blue to Wittgenstein's reddish green; from Democritus' fragment on colours' existence «by convention» to Locke's distinction between primary and secondary qualities, colours have always been a great challenge for philosophy. This issue of “Itinera” aims at examining this question in all its breath.

In fact, recently the focus has been mainly on the ontology of colour. Do colours really exist? Or does modern science show us that the world is not coloured at all? Around this question a great debate arose at the end of the Eighties in the Anglo-American philosophy and is still going on today (for its beginning see Colour for Philosophers by Hardin, or Readings on colour by Byrne and Hilbert).

Yet there are also some other important aspects that remain excluded from this discussion and need to be recovered. For example: what is the relationship between the perception of colour and (as Goethe states) its symbolic meaning? And moreover, what can we learn from the investigation of colour in the arts? And finally, what is the relationship between colour and language? Do colour terms influence our perception of colour? And what can colour tell us about conscience?

By addressing these questions, this issue of “Itinera” intends to take up one of the most important challenges that colour raises to philosophy: that of crossing borders.

Here are some examples of questions on which contributions are welcome:

  • The recent debate on the ontology of colour

  • Colour in the history of philosophy: how classical authors can be useful to think about colour today

  • Colour in the arts: philosophical issues

  • Artists' theoretical thinking on colour

  • Colour and language: philosophical issues

  • Colour and conscience


Papers can be written in Italian, English or French 

Deadline for submission: 15th March 2020

Expected Release: July 2020

Editor: Alice Barale (