An Interesting Quote

I was stumbling around the internet today, and came across a list of quotes. I greatly enjoy looking over them, because there are some very wise and poignant ones out there. Plus, you never know when you'll find one that relates so well to your mood.

But the quote I found today was interesting more in that it was a question and it's answer. Only I got the question wrong (according to the quote). So, here's Abraham Lincoln's quote:

How many legs does a dog have if you call the tail a leg?

Now, wait, stop, and think about it for a moment. Now, read on, and see if you get the same answer:

Four; calling a tail a leg doesn't make it a leg.

I'm sure most people are probably wondering how the hell I got this wrong. But I read it all at once, and my immediate thought, before getting to the second part of the quote, was that there were 5 legs.

See, if you define a tail as a leg, then it's a leg. That's true by definition. So for the sake of this situation, the answer is 5.

Another way to look at it would be to ask somebody how many legs a dog has, to which they'll (hopefully) respond 4. You then tell them to also consider the tail as a leg. They should then say 5.

I'm not really trying to argue one way or another on this; I just think it's interesting to look at it this way.

The truth is, there's no reason to define the tail as a leg; that's a nonsensical definition.

So I guess I'll leave this random thought with a Latin phrase I really like:

quod gratis asseritur, gratis negatur

Or, in English:

What is asserted without reason may be denied without reason

There is no reason to call a tail as a leg, so nobody needs any reason to refute that claim.


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