Blind men and an elephant

The story of the blind men and an elephant is a parable originating from India.

In it, several blind men, or men in darkness unable to see, surround and touch an elephant. They can only get information of one part of the elephant – for example a limb, the flank, or a tusk. The blinded men then tell one another what they believe to be before them from the information they have alone. What they end up discovering however, is that each one of them give completely varied accounts for what they think is before them.

The parable is used to illustrate the idea while one’s subjective experience may be true, that person may take for granted the limits of their experience. There may be other truths to expand upon their knowledge, or experiences that conflict with their own because their perception is making an assumption.

If the men are able to come to a truce after their conflicting accounts and work together to determine the entity before them, they may then be able to conclude that there is an elephant in the room.

Even if a sighted man were to see the elephant, that does not mean even they know more than the blind men – their sight may tell them the elephant’s appearance, but the blind men have determined the elephant’s texture and bulk, which the sighted man from sight alone, cannot.

PostedMonday, 7th April 02014 Tagsblog, conceptualisation, twelve thousand.