Reflections on the Blind Men and an Elephant

Once upon a time, in a small village in India, lived six blind men. One day they heard excited talk about an elephant that had wandered in to the village.

Having no idea of what an elephant was, they went to satisfy their curiosity. The blind men stood around the elephant so they could touch and feel the animal.

The blind man who happened to be near the leg and felt it with his hands exclaimed that the elephant was certainly a pillar. The one who touched the tail disputed that and was emphatic that the elephant was a rope. The one who stroked the trunk could not agree as to him the elephant was a tree trunk. The one who touched the ear thought the others were clueless as the elephant was surely a huge fan. The man with his hands on the belly could not understand how anyone could mistake the wall he felt for anything other than a solid wall. And the sixth man feeling the tusk proclaimed the elephant was a pipe. No one could agree and they argued passionately, angrily.

An old man passing by asked what was going on. They all told him what they thought the elephant was and how the rest had to be wrong. The old man explained to them that they were all partially right. Just as we have arms, legs, trunk, face, the body of the elephant also has different parts. Each blind man had felt a different part of the body, not the whole body. The arguments stopped and the blind men went their way satisfied with the answer.

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