Is This a Triangle?

This is a discussion on the problems of ethical pragmatic discourse.

Now hopefully, everyone will agree that figure 1 is a triangle.

However, 2 and 3 are not ideal triangles, but for all practical intents and purposes, someone might say they’re “close enough”.

On the other hand, another might say that someone’s stupid and that they’re hexagons.

Calling someone stupid CAN be insulting, but isn’t necessarily. If someone doesn’t know what one’s talking about, then it’s an honest assessment. The problem is this can also lead to circular reasoning. People will claim they do know what they’re talking about even when they don’t, so they claim they’re being insulted. This can even happen on accident when someone believes to know what one’s talking about, but really doesn’t.

On the other hand, people can claim someone really doesn’t know what one’s talking about, so they claim it’s not an insult even when someone does know.

This is especially problematic when discussing abstract concepts which don’t have concrete benchmarks to compare against. You can’t refer to facts there because there are no facts to refer to. Even when facts do exist when referring to concrete situations, those facts have to be interpreted. It’s possible that people call each other stupid because they have a disagreement over interpretation style.

It’s also possible that someone deliberately interprets something poorly, and provokes another into calling one stupid where it’s well-deserved.

How do we fix this?

You could say ‘you are incorrect.’ This is more accurate.
There is no reason to say someone who is incorrect about the shapes is stupid. Maybe they never took geometry.
Maybe they would kick our asses managing a sales team or on a French test.
There’s no real need to sum up a person’s intelligence for making a mistake.
I mean, not in a context like this forum.
But let’s say really you mean situations where they make all sorts of errors in a wider range of areas. Sure, they might be stupid and in some contexts, it might be good Communication to say they are stupid. If they were resistant to Learning, smug, Calling you stupid, had Power, etc.

You even have a better version yourself in the OP. ‘You don’t know what you are talking about.’ Though even with that one you might as well focus on why what they are saying is wrong.

Hell, I don’t Think number 1 is a triangle though it seems to include one.

In the above example, only 1 figure is a triangle, absolutely no doubt, and saying it’s close enough doesn’t cut the definition. An approximation can be spoken of only in terms of a qualifier, such as, I know what it really is, but for all practical purposes it kind of looks like a triangle. Or, if the non triangles are looked at from far away at a distance, the other points may be in perceivable, and hence may be mistaken for a triangle.

The same analogy could be used to qualify or disqualify statements based on non factual information.

At any rate, the application of “stupid” in any case is not a good idea, since the stupidity in question may be due to a lack of precise recognition or interpretation of facts.

In case there is an obvious and misapplication of the facts, it may still be questionable whether it was a case of misinformation by chance or by deliverance.

And even if done purposefully, the intent may have been caustic, ironic still not an act of stupidity.

Stupidity in using inappropriate facts, may still be inadvertent. So the point is a gentle hint may suffice, in order to elicit the least amount of abrasive ill will.

None of the figures above are triangles, you can’t even MAKE a triangle in real life, at all. Anybody who doesn’t know this is stupid!

So see, the problem with treating ‘stupid’ as a straightforward application of the truth is that this is philosophy, and what you take as a given is rarely taken by everybody as a given. In the case of this thread, the given was actually, factually incorrect, so the entire standard of who’s stupid and who isn’t is baloney.

Imagine how often that happens?

From the psychological intelligence standpoint, the OP is an interesting question, which in one case not long ago, led to an 800 post debate.

It takes intelligence to “fix” stupidity.

The way it works is through diligence and careful probing or questioning. You break down the issue at hand into small components, such as “a triangle has [3 straight lines] and [3 corners]”. Then you probe to investigate why that concept isn’t being understood. One of 5 things will happen;

  1. You discover a communication problem; interpretation, definition, or technical issue such as someone’s bad monitor screen.

  2. You discover in which exact way the person is “stupid”, generally being a blindness due to an emotional connection to the issue. This often leads to blind belligerence - refusing to see correct from incorrect and often ego related, especially if the discussion has become personal. Or perhaps mere allegiance to different authority figures or even personal vengeance.

  3. You find that it isn’t really a question of anyone being “stupid”, but rather a simple education problem.

  4. You discover that in reality it was you being “stupid” or perhaps both of you. And if you had been so unwise as to not resist the temptation to accuse the other person, embarrass yourself. In this case as a small example, Ucci’s response to the OP assertion, “in reality none of them are triangles because a real triangle can never be formed in the physical universe.” - Perhaps an item (1) issue.

  5. One or both of you give up out of frustration; an emotional problem relating to the demand to make progress in a direction that wasn’t as simple as desired.

In the case of the OPer, having witnessed many posts, I can see that all 5 of those have come into play.

You fix it by first making sure everybody understands that the word triangle refers to a figure with three angles. Then, conceding that some of the other figures look like they have 3 angles, you come to an agreement on the fact that where there are six angles to be counted, the word triangle does not strictly apply.

At all times avoid statements like “these are absolutely not triangles!”. Instead, say: “it depends on how precise you want to be”.

This is a wonderful example of stupid, since the concept of “triangle” is only ever conceivable in mental reference to particular triangular shapes that we have experienced concretely. Perhaps envisaged all blurred together in order to avoid the cognitive dissonance of any definite inexact triangularness when attempting to conceive of an abstract ideal. Perhaps conceived indirectly as a set of necessary rules such as a closed 2D shape with 3 straight lines and 3 angles that internally add up to 180 degrees or π radians etc., which are also all things that we conceive of in reference to previously/currently experienced approximates…
Triangles only exist, whether imagined or real, as more or less exact approximates, with only arbitrary judgments separating the OP’s pictures as either triangles (triangular shapes) or hexagons (hexagonal shapes) or whatever else.

You highlight the OP’s point so well, especially when calling your obviously deliberate oversights “fact”.

 If you want to define 'triangle' in some way other than how it's defined in geometry, then you are absolutely free to do so.  My point, if you read my entire post you quoted and not just the first sentence, is that philosophically minded people often don't agree on basic assumptions, for often very good reasons. So for example, when you call somebody stupid because they don't think figure 1 is a triangle, it could be that they are stupid, or it could be that they're working from a different definition than you are.  There's a sense - a very real sense- in which figure 1 isn't a triangle, it's FAR from obvious that it is.  Hell, if you magnified it 10x, it would be just as non-triangular as figure 2 looks now.  That to you, it is a triangle, and to me it's technically not (at least for the sake of an argument), combined with you calling me stupid most likely because I got your panties in a twist with some other thing I said in some other thread, makes my point nicely.

Thanks, but I don’t need to/didn’t.

My post was an example of the second-to-last sentence of the OP.
Yours (about lack of agreement on basic assumptions) was just repeating part of a point in the OP.
Except you managed to turn it into hypocrisy, by saying the OP was “factually incorrect” to not see that the philosophically minded don’t often agree on basic assumptions - as though that was factually incorrect. You gotta agree this was pretty stupid…

Is it the same shape when you zoom in and out? To me it is not, meaning that I willingly accept zooming in will eventually turn it into something that is no longer triangular enough to comfortably call a triangle. But for now, the left shape is a triangle.

Don’t flatter yourself. Your oversights have long irritated me, though I have generally stayed out of them because there is so very much to untangle - I almost always do not have the patience, nor interest.
I have sorted out the “other thread” that you are presumably referring to, and will continue to do so as long as I remain willing to help you understand - though no doubt you will continue to claim you know what you’re talking about when you do not, and misunderstand my corrections… I know how philosophy works in practice - you are at least right that philosophically minded people don’t often agree on basic assumptions…

But it IS factually incorrect that figure one is a triangle, according to the most rigorous definition of 'triangle' we have. We let each other get away with calling things like figure 1 a triangle because it's conventional/handy to do so. But the OP put it forward as a fact that we could all agree on. Put that way, [i]he was wrong. [/i]  But even if that's not clear to you, even if we have to agree to disagree and merely say that whether or not figure 1 is a triangle is controversial, it still illustrates the problem with calling people stupid. 

And like I said, that’s fine. But whether or not this one person on the internet thinks 1 is a triangle is rather besides the point. The OP put it up as a mutually agreeable standard. Even if you disagree with me that making a triangle in real life is impossible, the OP’s triangle is a piss-poor one. And yeah, I totally disagree with you that zooming in and out changes the shape of something, if for no other reason that you can create the exact same effect by walking towards/away from the shape. IOW, I don’t have to do anything to figure 1 to make it not a triangle, I just have to put my eye sufficiently close to the screen.

Dangerous combination. You should probably continue leaving me be. Speaking from experience, speaking with people that try your patience generally doesn’t lead anywhere good.

Ah yes, the famous appeal to away from un-authority.
It doesn’t matter that I’m highly intelligent and have a very good argument - I’m just a guy on the internet… :frowning:

I don’t expect to get “anywhere good”, but sometimes I am irrationally compelled to release a pent up need to reason with those who need correcting.

This “most rigorous definition of ‘triangle’ we have” relies on yet more rigorously defined concepts and so on - with each and every concept involved abstracted from concrete experience, and inseparable from it. That is to say, all of the most rigorous definitions are founded on approximates. They are inconceivable without approximates, the only trick is saying “this approximate, but only this aspect of it that I am focusing on, and as though it were exactly precise” - which is just words. In reality they don’t go together, and mentally putting them together is useful self-deception that we have discovered some pure abstract concept that we can make into a rigorous definition (which turns out to be as inconsistent as its inconsistent ingredients).

This is fact. It makes your “fact” not a fact, since it makes figure 1 a triangle in spite of the most rigorous definition of ‘triangle’ we have. All we need is a little analysis of what “the most rigorous definition” of anything really is, sprinkled with a little intellectual consistency, and it turns out definitions are approximate afterall (even though they “say” they aren’t).

You say it yourself that the “same effect” occurs by walking towards/away from the shape. Though presumably this is “just” an effect to you - appearance. The objects perceiving and being perceived are really the same - in themselves in the material objective world.

But you’re talking to someone who isn’t into turning reality on its head. I don’t find it particularly consistent that we (subjects) use the only thing we have direct access to - our experience - to determine that something that we do not have any access to is more real, and that this subjective reversal amounts to objective reality. No, to someone consistent, like me, the “same effect” really is the constant here, not the triangular object that does the changing into something more or less triangular - however we understand the cause of this change (be it zooming in or out, or moving towards or away).

It doesn’t matter, in the sense that two intelligent people can disagree on the issue. I Think you are missing his Point here.

All of this would be true if we weren’t talking about a definition that can be purely and completely described through mathematics. Like Moreno said, you really don’t seem to be getting my point.

So, 1 is a triangle. This is a fact to you, despite the other fact that it has all the same defects as 2, which is not a triangle, just at a somewhat smaller degree. You seem to think all definitions are approximate, even mathematical ones (or maybe you haven’t considered the mathematical side, I don’t know), but it seems to go completely over your head that ‘approximately’ is a synonym for ‘not really’.

OK, so the mathematical definition of ‘triangle’ isn’t a fact, but your shockingly non-standard definition of ‘shape’ that includes ‘magnitude’ is. And because some people use shockingly non-standard definitions as facts with no prior warning, is why it’s ok to call people stupid when they don’t agree? I suppose I’ve lost the plot.

Re-iterate your point, please?
I would like to test this conjecture.

1 is triangular. 2 is triangular. Even 3 is triangular. 2 through 4 are hexagonal. An overlap? How imprecise! Just like our conceptions of both triangles and hexagons etc. It is a fact that our conceptions of precise/perfect forms are only ever derived from imprecise/imperfect forms abstracted from concrete experience, and not even our attempts at conceiving them precisely/perfectly escape imprecision/imperfection. Mathematics may “say” it deals only in these impossible ideals, but in all practice it does not. Abstract ideals are useful inconsistencies that come alive only in irreconcilable wording.

You would be deemed most sane to think as you do. My questions undermine that which is deemed sane thinking, but that is no argument toward or against their legitimacy. But do not fret, I speak sense!
My apologies for approaching this subject non-standardly with no prior warning.
Shape is traditionally distinct from magnitude as abstract concepts - and I understand why - but I have put the degree of value in abstraction in its place. I have also righted the inconsistent perception that objects are the constants instead of the subjective perception of them.

Now you know, do you understand?

None of those are triangles, either defined as a kind of perfect geometric figure or ‘a good mundane recognizable version’. Triangles do not have nubs. I see nubs on all those SHAPEs. The SHAPEs could be argued to contain the latter definition of triangle, but they are more than just a triangle.

I’ll make a short logical argument:
Sillouette and Ucci are both smart.
They disagree about what the SHAPEs are in the OP.
Therefore the OP’s conclusions are false.
One need not be stupid to have a different opinion about what those various SHAPEs are.

The OP wants to go even further. It is suggesting it would be right to call other people stupid for such mistakes or disagreements.

(the mistake vs. disagreement issue was, I Think, first raised by Ucci - one of the things that show he is smart)

Even if one must be stupid if one Thinks number 1 is a triangle or does not or Thinks 3 is or does not, I don’t Think it follows that it is a good idea for someone to label you that way. Unless good is determined not by how much the ‘stupid’ person learns and listens, but by how much you make someone feel bad an defensive.

Then of course there is the whole problem with think that the OP presents a good binary IQ test.

If you get the question wrong you are stupid, if you don’t you are not stupid.

I am pretty sure I know lot of stupid people who would get that question right. Either right answer.

 That we can't call people 'stupid' when they appear to agree with what seems obvious to us, considering that in the field of philosophy, people (evidenced by the OP) are so bad at expressing what seems obvious to them, or, what seems obvious to them is actually a controversial matter among those educated enough to be aware of the controversy.   Like I said- the OP wanted to put forward a triangle as an example we can all agree on to work as a starting point on where stupidity might begin, but his definition of triangle such that it includes 1 is not only controversial, it's not even on the majority side of said controversy. Most people with good eyesight who know the actual definition of 'triangle' would agree that 1 is NOT ONE AT ALL, especially in the context of a philosophical conversation. Now, if we were talking Christmas cookies, then sure, 1 might be a good example of a triangular Christmas cookie- as triangular as a cookie is likely to ever be. 

No. When it comes to simple shapes, our concepts can be derived from very precise mathematics. Even a child who doesn’t know the math will get the idea that a triangle with the corners sanded off is less triangular for it.

A discussion about math or philosophy IS practice of a sort, and in THAT practice, which is the practice we are presently engaged in, most people should immediately recognize that 1 isn’t a triangle.

Dude, you’re not a visionary just because you didn’t know what the word ‘shape’ meant.

That’s it in a nutshell. When I declared that everybody who thought 1 was a triangle was stupid, I was being educationally flippant- putting said people in the position to realize they were looking down the other end of the gun barrel from the perspective of the truly knowledgeable, hoping that would provoke them to rethink what stupid is and is not.

I got that. I don’t think Sill did. His early responses to you in this thread seemed not to be quite responding to your post. He was responding as if you were (only) taking the reverse position, rather than taking it to make a point in the argument you were actually making.

I do that too much. It doesn’t translate on the internet as wlel as it could.

This reminds me of times when someone has made a joke, and you play along in order to take it to the next step, but then they just look pale-faced and declare “no, I was only joking”. To which you can only laugh and admit “I know…”.

Nothing has passed me by here. I have simply been using Uccisore’s rhetorical “educational flippancy” (essentially a trolling move) as a platform from which to actually agree with the OP.

This might sound odd, but even though nothing can definitely be right, things can definitely be wrong.
For example, one might say “yes, that is a triangle - it’s not a very good attempt at making it look that ideal, but even then it’s clearly triangular. But let’s face it, even our mental conceptions of ideal triangles aren’t perfect either, so it’s good enough”.

There’s no definite yes/no here, or in the correct identification of anything.

One might also say “figure 1 is a Brontosaurus skipping on rainbow clouds”. This is definitely wrong.

In my opinion, what Uccisore is saying about stupidity is akin to this latter example. What he is saying is definitely wrong → it’s stupid. This instance is not reducible to “disagreement over interpretation style” as mentioned in the OP.

But yes, it is possible to interpret someone poorly, just as I have been interpretted poorly.

Further, he doesn’t seem to know what I’m talking about, and thus the full picture of what he’s talking about - something also mentioned in the OP. He will most likely take my calling him “stupid” as an insult. It’s more of a correction, but with the attitude he’s been giving me lately, I feel just about ready to insult him.

The difference between the inescapable grey ground of correctness, versus the possibility of black and white incorrectness is what fixes the issue in the OP.