Thus the behaviour of the sense-data which represent the cat to me, though it seems quite natural when regarded as an expression of hunger, becomes utterly inexplicable when regarded as mere movements and changes of patches of colour, which are as incapable of hunger as a triangle is of playing football.

[Problems of philosophy, Bertrand Russell, Chapter II]

What does "a triangle if of playing football" mean? How could I understand that expression? I think it means "a triangle is incapable of playing football". Is it right?

  • @AidenStewart - I think you're over-analyzing things here. I think Russell really means the geometric shape called a "triangle," which obviously cannot play football because abstract geometric shapes can't play football. Likewise, the abstractions of movements and patches of color cannot experience hunger. Oct 10, 2018 at 15:54

1 Answer 1


It is an analogy:

A triangle is incapable of playing football.

Movements and changes of patches of colour are equally incapable of being hungry.

These two ideas are linked with the as...as... construction, and the word incapable is omitted in the second part, as it already appears in the first.

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