Friday, January 20, 2006


An ant?

A wise man tells you, "An ant is bigger than an elephant."

How could he be right?

Seems to me that question focuses on perspective. If the ant is crawling on the back of your hand, while the elephant is so far away as to be a dot on the horizon, then the statement is true.

But of course, the statement is so vague (what is "bigger") that it could mean a hundred other things too.
Perhaps he was thinking of the Banach-Tarski Paradox, according to which a 3-D object can be dissected into finitely many pieces, the pieces rotated and translated, and then reassembled into an object with greater volume than the original? Though perhaps not, as the elephant could then be decomposed and reassembled into an object larger than the reassembled ant. So which is really 'bigger'?

Of course, this is not possible in the physical world, another reason why the wise man may not have had this rationale in mind.
He's probably making reference to the theory that these social (herd-hive mentality) insects are individual units of a collective whole. Tissues working independently, but connected by various communication methods (pheromones, chemical receptors, etc.). The organs would be the various responsibility descriptions in a network of ants (helper, warrior, nymph, food gathering, reproducing). The queen would be the CNS. The area taken up by a colony (body) can be larger than the volume of an elephant, and the total mass of ants world wide is greater than that of elephants.

A wise man might be considering the cooperation displayed, and the efficiency of less mass per unit of work producing activity achieving more results in their actions, per capita. (Wilfred)
First off, I would have to be at least acquainted with him to have an opinion as to whether he is wise or not. Second of all, it's a rather odd statement to make out of context. However, if he is a being from another dimension and ants are bigger than elephants (assuming elephants there are the same size they are here) there...well, that's one vacation spot I'll avoid.
Perhaps he is saying that the ants impact on its world around it is far greater than that of an elephant. Ants stockpile food for hard times, they build housing, elephants do not. Ants are found almost everywhere in the world. Elephants are found in just a few.
Yes, ants are bigger than an elephant.
The ant is more socially dedicated than the elephant? The ant gives
its entire life to its community and is therefore 'bigger' (= more
generous) than the relatively solitary elephant? (Graham)
If it's an adult, queen ant of a species of large ants, compared with an
early embryo (stem cell stage) of an elephant, then the ant is bigger.

proportionately the the ant is bigger
how can anyone ever be wrong? In quantum reality all things are possible. the wise man speaks from a distant galactic reality where he possesses an ant as his only last companion and meal. From the place where the wise man considers his ant no striving or patient pursuit will bring him ownership of that cosmic elephant: even in dire struggle the intelligent elephant would not lend its flesh to keep the wise man- but the ant will never refuse to become a life sustaining meal- the juicy crunchy ant will bolster his withered body as the wise man has to leave his home content with nothing but the clothes upon his back as attackers have destroyed his villiage.
As small as the ant is, he can drive an elephant krazy, because the elephant can't scratch, where he can't see !!! (hehe)
An ant is only bigger than an elephant because it can accomplish so much more in the same world with so many less resources and such a smaller size. The saying "He's a bigger man" applies perfectly to this saying. Bigger does not refer to size or perspective, it is about the amount one can accomplish with the characteristics and lifestyles they are dealt.
Is this one of those questions, such as you might be asked at a job
interview, where the answer itself is relatively unimportant? You
could say almost anything; what the interviewer is looking for is the
way you think; the way you approach a question; the way you handle any
supplementary questions. Kind of like an interactive Rorschach test.

If that's the case, I vote Wilfred B. gets the job!

The weight or collective bodymass of all the Ants on Earth is much much greater than that all of the Elephants. It is so much greater that I think the body mass of all the Ants alive right now may also be greater than the that of all of the elephants who have ever lived. (Tufr)
Perhaps the ant is much closer to him than the elephant. Wisdom isn't synonymous with knowing all the facts(like elephants being larger than ants, effects of perspective and distance, etc.).
If we take this literally, it is obviously not true; ants are never
bigger than elephants. Therefore, I assume that 'ant', 'elephant',
and 'bigger' must be understood metaphorically.

In that famous image of the student protester confronting a tank in
Tiananmen Square, the ant (the student protestor) was bigger than the
elephant (the tank).

In an even more abstract sense, one might imagine 'elephant' as
referring to things in a gross sense, while 'ant' refers to
particulars. We tend to see the world "one ant at a time", rarely
seeing the elephant they comprise. That is, we see what is in front of
out face - the ant - not the elephant comprised of those ants. The
parts can be bigger in our minds than the whole.
In the literal sense, ants are smaller than elephants. Perhaps the wise man is suggesting ants are rather well-hung. This isn't true either, though.
How do you compare an ant to an elephant, even metaphorically? You can see that each has it's will to survive, each has a means to survive. But if an ant were the size of an elephant, could it survive in the same circumstances as the elephant?
you must ask what "bigger" is. perhaps, in life, ants are more valuable than elephants. there are trillions of ants who do nothing but build infrastructures, colonize, reproduce, and eat. hmm sounds kinda like humans. elephants on the other hand just search for food and water and reproduce.
Maybe he's just plain wrong.
An ant is larger than an elephant if we are concerning ourselves with the ratio of surface area to volume.
Elephant Aleph Ant
E Le Phant Elep Hant
Bigger Bigger Smaller Smaller
Antonym Anonymous Antonymous
Autonomous Ants While Poison Content Elephant Elephant Walk but not Sting. Elephant Fly Ant. Fly Sky Ant Ant Ant Ant ant Elephant.

What gives me the right to tell somebody else they're wrong? Then again, what gives somebody else the right to tell me what is correct?
It's a very big ant.
Meet my Aunt Edith.
...ant calling to ant like mastodons in the primeval swamp...
Isn't it a line of dialogue from the movie "Them".
I for one welcome our new giant ant overlords
Err...I'm not good at all this psychological stuff...I think it means that a goal you have close to you (ant), but the goal far from you, (the elephant) is a much harder goal to true happiness.
Hmmm, could it be that the ant can carry larger loads and travel faster (proportionately) than an elephant? (I don't know if this is true or not, however.)

And, is this "wise man" wise about all things?
perhaps you're talking about a giANT????
less is more
Well from all the comments i have read. it seems to me that, well, almost everyone has also forgotten that size to lifting capabilities has been left out. Thus, the ant being the super animal that it is would be "bigger" as in a power lifter...considering that it can lift 50 times it's own weight. I.E. the world as we know it would be in a world of turmoil if the mighty elephant could lift, move 50 times it's own weight. Spectulative "we" the world population or more so those who are around when the elephant became aggressive.
I look on this as being like those other questions by wise men such as "What is the sound of one hand clapping?" and "Where are you between thoughts?"
There is no answer. It is a conundrum for thought.
My brain is too tired to venture into the wisdom of the wise man.

So I'll tell you why I think the elephant is bigger than the ant.The elephant is a large & noble creature. They are trained & work hard for men. They are family oriented, take care of their children, & grieve at loss.

The ant is a gigantic pain in the butt. I'm constantly at war with them in my yard. Other people have fire ants & army ants.

Regardless of how much good they do by their tunnels in the dirt, they don't do the good on purpose.

Elephants will always be much bigger to me in every respect.
Oh, this one's easy. Throw the elephent in a black hole (ignoring all those theoretical black hole theories for the moment and simply assuming it makes the elephant really, really tightly compressed) and throw the ant out into space where the wonderful vaccum takes effect. Whallabulut! Ant size greater than Elephant size
what qualities (oh wise one) of the ant are you refering to? I am shaken by the quality of your wisdom, and stunned by the qualities of your manliness(wise man?right?)I fear I might give a poor quality response to such a high quality statement. BUT SERIOUSLY,folks,in this "age" when quality is in such high demand, is this philosophy,or physic's, or just quality time at our keyboards?
I am stunned by your quality insight oh wise one, in this "age" when quality is in such high demand. That those qualities of the ant that you speak of are so much larger than the elephants qualities is so apparent to us now that your qualities of manliness(wise man?right?)are overshadowed ,nay even your quality statement,is over shadowed by the enormity of the ant,at least in retrospect.(spec?ha!ha!).BUT SERIOUSLY,folks,is this philosophy,physic's,or just"quality time" at our keyboards? JEEZ I hate how the word"quality" has gone to the pundits(and the business leaders who use the word like a weapon or somehow reachable EDEN)
It depends what kind of ant an eleph is!
I think that it means the despite the size of the ant, it is able to achieve much more than elephants. Ants are empire builders and they respect positions or strata as it is called. They save for the rainy days by gathering their foods through summer so that in winter they will not starve. They are team players and team workers.
Ants are so much bigger than elephants in all aspects most especially in wisdom. In Proverbs it is written that if you want to learn wisdom, visit the ants and observe how they work in their colony, then you will learn one or more things from them.
It sounds like something out of a karate kids movie.
One of those "say it to sound wise" things :P

Washing cars makes us better at karate.
I have no idea...
Simple - Ant's have proportionally larger shlongs than elephants - hence they are 'bigger'.
I would ask him why he believes an ant is bigger than an elephant. Often times, people's beliefs are based on their assumptions, experience and current knowledge. I could come up with many examples where an ant would be bigger than an elephant, or I could simply think the statement is incorrect and dismis it. However, new learning may occur if I simply ask him what he means by that statement.
Neither the ant nor the elephant is bigger. Both creatures begin life at the molecular level. Other elements align themselves into a shape which gravitational laws dictate, until the life force can no longer hold the bonds and the elements return to the earth or float into space after the ant helped to break them down. In that sense, we are all part of something bigger, that neither gains or loses matter-just rearranges it. The question should be, which one is smaller, and how small is small?
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