Spiritually speaking: Difference between a chair and a stool?

Are chairs and stools completely different entities, or are they points on a continuum?

I'll explain. Suppose there is a furniture-maker somewhere who makes chairs.

Now, due to an equipment malfunction or something, the chair-maker finds it easier to make chairs with lower backs. The rest of the chair -- seat, legs and reinforcing bars -- is fine, but the backs are getting lower.

Things get progressively worse, so each successive chair has a shorter back than the preceding one. Eventually, the chair backs have become non-existent -- i.e., they are stools, not chairs.

If you placed every product in a line in chronological order from the first, high-backed ones to the latest ones with no back at all, where is the transition? Which one do you call the last true chair, and which one is the first true stool?

8 Answers

  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    I see the analogy with evolution, of course. But a low-backed chair still requires you sit on it in a specific position (unless you want to hurt your legs), while a stool can be placed in any position relative to the sitter's seat. Therefore, in terms of definition, there is a specific point. No such specific point exists between one individual and the next in an evolving species.

  • 9 years ago

    The transition would by nature be arbitrary. You would have to pick one piece of furniture out of the line and call it the last chair.

    I mean, I'm sure you could just create an arbitrary definition, like "a chair is a piece of furniture with a back that's more than a foot long, and anything with a smaller back is a stool."

    But another person might come along and feel differently. Maybe they think stools are a kind of chair, or maybe they have a difference of opinion on how to decide whether a piece of furniture is a chair or a stool.

    The more accurate way to look at it would be in terms of the continuum. On this end is the most chairlike chair we can find, and on this end is the most "stoollike" stool. We can call the whole continuum "chairstool" and pick certain entities from along the continuum and label them so we can get a general idea of how stooly chairstools were at that point in time.

    That way, there's no question about whether a specimen is a chair or a stool, just about when the specimen is from and about how stooly it is.

    Source(s): haha
  • 9 years ago

    I think there is a fairly clear line of demarcation between chair and stool.

    1. A chair can have no fewer than 4 legs, whereas a stool can have as few as 3 legs.

    2. A chair must be low enough to the ground so that an average body-build person can sit with *** firmly planted in the seat and still be flat-footed on the ground. Since I am 5'1", I can rarely flat-foot while in a chair, but that doesn't detract from the essential "chair-qualities" of a chair.

    3. Any "real" chair will have a back support of some sort, and by this I mean enough back support height to provide enough space for you to recline your lumbar region against it.

    4. Finally, for all you picky bastards out there, if it has 4 legs and plenty of back support, but ones' legs dangle off the edge, at that point the chair becomes a THRONE, and if you're worthy of sitting on a throne, why are you dicking around on Yahoo! Answers???? :)

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    It is a peculiarity of the English language that we use a word derived from Latin when a seat has a back and a German word when it doesn't. But a bar stool is still a stool even if it has a back. The person in charge of a meeting is called a chairman (or some ghastly gender-inclusive word) even if he sits on a woolsack.

    A chair is something that you sit on. A stool is something that supports you when you squat. A chair becomes a stool when you can no longer sit on it and you have to squat to avoid falling off. You can't say any of this in German.

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  • Dopler
    Lv 7
    9 years ago

    Next, scatter those various seats among different layers of rock in undisclosed locations around vast areas of land. Leave them there for 5 million years.

    Whichever few specimens are recovered from the original large batch become the defined chair types. Maybe 1 high backed seat is discovered, and named "Chair". And then one transitional seat with a half back, named "Almost Chair". And finally, one unbacked seat is uncovered and named "Stool".

    Though each is clearly a different type of seat, there is a clear progression that can still be identified in the absence of all transitional seats being discovered.


    In case I was too vague, let me explain myself better. Your example assumes that all transitional forms are known, but real paleontology doesn't work that way. There are inevitably many species that will never be discovered. The best we can do is connect the dots between the specimens that we are able to find. Patterns can still be established without having every single link in the chain documented, and each named species represents one more link in that chain. If every transitional form were known, then classifying species might be a little dicier, but for the most part there are gaps in fossil records, which allow for very clear distinctions between each chain link.

  • Anonymous
    9 years ago

    The point at which the back is sufficiently low that it provides no support for the spine of the sitter is the point at which the chair has become a stool.

    I would say that the chair back needs to be high enough to cup the sitter's back at least as high as just below their shoulder blades in order to still be a chair, however that then depends on the length of the sitter's spine and in species identification the classification rarely (if ever) depends on the spine of the evolutionary biologist.

    Open to debate.

  • Yes. A chair is something that you sit on. A stool is what you end up sitting on if you don't get yourself to the toilet in time :)

  • 9 years ago

    "Eventually, the chair backs have become non-existent"

    At this point, it becomes a stool.

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