Conventional Wisdom says Tiny Drops of Water make an Ocean however the Greek Philosophers at the dawn of the civilization proposed an alternate theory that tiny drops of water don’t make an Ocean. Of Course No wonder they were Called Philosophers then and remain Philosophers to date. Before I get into the meat of the discussion regarding Oceans and Beards I share with you all my trails in the quest of a good post. I meandered through a range of topics as diverse as the morals of the Famed Aesopian Fables to the economic analysis of the story of Grasshopper and the Ant and the lessons of Cognitive dissonance in the story of Fox and the Sour Grapes. I had taken inspiration for most of my recent articles from theories of psychology and tried to weave stories around those theories. In an effort to broaden the scope of my articles I ventured into the world of another “P” the world of Philosophy. Oh Boy there was a vast unexplored world out there begging for some attention. As I entered the city of Philosophy one street led to another as I explored the vast treasures of the esoteric city finally to stumble upon a street called the Street of Paradox. The Street of Paradox was illuminated with magnificent buildings named the Liars Paradox , Socratic Paradox , Barbers Paradox to mention a few. The Street seem to be unending and I after a perfunctory walk decided to explore the building named the Sorites Paradox also called the paradox of the Heap.Now where do I start? For Beginners The Sorites Paradox makes no distinction between the building and its building blocks. Considering a building to be a heap of grains containing a numerically large number of grains in the upwards of six digits. The heap continues to be called a heap even if you set a grain aside and continues to be called a heap until all the grains in the heap have been set aside invoking the paradox where a heap of almost no grains is also called a heap. It’s akin to the theory that if everything is considered a heap then nothing is also considered a heap a very counter intuitive idea. Well this theory might have some takers in the spiritual world where both Nothing and Everything are equated to God. The fallacy in the theory lies in its inability to set defining limiting conditions where the demarcation between a heap and a non-heap is very clear. If the boundary is defined that for a heap of a million grains once half a million grains are set aside it’s no longer called a heap the fallacy no longer remains a fallacy. This arbitrary setting of the boundary conditions has no takers in the philosophical world perpetuating the fallacy of the heap. Considering Ocean and a Man’s beard as heaps as per the fallacy when the Ocean is drained of its last drop the Ocean still remains an Ocean almost perpetuating the myth that “Tiny Drops of water don’t make an Ocean”. Similarly a Bearded Man after losing a strand of hair from his beard still has a beard and continues to have a beard even after losing the last strand of hair in his beard leading to the famed fallacy of the Beard.
After exploring the paradox of the heap and the idea behind the fallacy of the beard I was left to wonder how this vague theory has any implications on our daily lives. The fallacy of the beard definitely will have its supporters in the groups who are victims of arbitrary cut offs. Thinking of it I felt the Students in educational settings will be thankful since the paradox of the heap and its cognate fallacy of the beard don’t endorse any demarcation between the high achievers and the average achievers with its steadfast support for not setting any defining conditions. On the other hand we all one time or the other fall victims to the fallacy of the beard when in our lives we fail to define the boundaries of our indulgences.
For having put up with me I share with you some more interesting discoveries of mine.