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Modern Philosophical Puzzle?

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This is Modern Philosophy?

Once a friend invited me to an open lecture held by her professor in his private house. Upon arrival of the class, we were given a drink. I thought, this started well. The professor was calm and laid back with a voice that always sounded as if he was deeply in his thoughts.

Nothing indicated we were there to learn anything. We were just chatting, giggling and drinking for a while.

At one point, he pulled out a clear sheet and drew a triangle.

“How many triangles are here?” - he asked casually?

One” - said a few in and others were nodding, we all agreed, easy.

Then he continued and drew lines inside the triangle until it looked something like this:


(Note: Better rendition, though somewhat different, than the one provided on www.quora.com.)

With this in hand, he asked us again: “How many triangles are on this paper?”

Suddenly, all hell broke loose.

Everyone in the room started arguing about the number of triangles. Some said it is still one triangle, only segmented inside. Others suggested to count all of the segments. Cliques formed and we were bringing up arguments to verify why our calculation is correct.

Some even went as far as taking the problem in ontological heights, claiming there aren’t any triangles on the paper, as the triangles are in fact just geometric objects, so as a conclusion, the drawn image is just a representation of a definition of a triangle or triangles and not real triangles.

One side of the room gone into details of epistemological differences and tried to debate if we can, at all, know for sure whether we see the same or perceive the world exclusively through our own subjective senses. A couple of debaters pulled out from futher arguments and took a stand on solipsism. Others were taking apart the concept of truth and validation.

The only person who did not argue was the professor. He leaned back in his chair and watched the chaos in a peaceful amusement while sipping his drink.

The whole class literally argued for an hour and when everyone exhausted all their arguments, the professor looked at us and asked:

“Did you come up with an answer?”

We all looked sheepishly. We didn’t. One guy stood up and presented the professor the most likely number of triangles.

We begged him to give us the correct answer.

He said: “It does not matter. This is the correct answer. It can be one, or four or twenty. This game was never about the number of triangles, this is what you have to understand. This game was designed to test your skills in an argument. If you can manage to convince others that your method is right, what if you can’t? Would you listen to others? Would you give up your position that your answer is correct? Would you accept that there is no correct answer? Do you stick to your so called truth? This is about life. Remember this when later in life you start arguing about an issue. There are more than one way to look at everything.”

The room feel silent.

Now it was our turn to reflect, to analyze our behavior in the argument process beforehand and remember what others did. This experiment was truly insightful of human nature.

We did learn a valuable lesson that day 15 years ago.
I really recommend you to try this game at home or with friends if you would like to see how the mind works.


Edited by dream_weaver

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