Sunday, November 15, 2009

Wise Men and Elephants

"The truth is like blind men feeling an elephant. Never assume that someone else sees the same thing you do" (P.159)

In the ancient Indian folk lore, there were six blind men who came upon an elephant. One of them touched the ear and thought it was a fan, the other touched the side and thought it was a wall, yet another touched the tail and thought it was a rope, another feeling the tusk thought it was a sharp spear, the fourth who happened to grab the trunk thought it was a snake, and the last one who came upon the leg thought it was a tree.

This parable has been captured for all time by the American poet John Godfrey Saxe and memorised by many an Indian school child as "The Six Wise Men of Hindoostan". Every culture has such stories which illustrate how biased truth can be - our opinions of the world are dependent on our perceptions. So in the ultimate analysis what is the truth?

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