I was simply wondering if tools were tools, or simply items. Is a fake-tool a tool? At least a rock is useful.


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    Usually, we call "tool" something that is an artifact. Commented Jan 28 at 7:30
  • maybe cite an example of its use, rather than asking for a dictionary defitnion
    – user71226
    Commented Jan 28 at 9:04
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    @MauroALLEGRANZA is that to set us above other animals, who use sticks, straws, rocks, etc? Commented Jan 28 at 19:53
  • @KamilHasenfeller what is a 'fake tool'? Is it, for example, a stethoscope overtly carried by someone who isn't a physician? Or is it a tool that is manufactured so poorly that it has no practical use? Or is it a stage prop that only resembles the actual tool? Commented Jan 28 at 19:56
  • See: 'Wittgenstein's Chair' thephilosophyforum.com/discussion/9121/wittgensteins-chair "In this sort of predicament, always ask yourself: How did we learn the meaning of this word ("good", for instance)? From what sort of examples? In what language-games? Then it will be easier for you to see that the word must have a family of meanings." -Wittgenstein, in Philosophical Investigations. Context is key
    – CriglCragl
    Commented Jan 28 at 21:48

2 Answers 2


A tool provides a mechanical or mental advantage to its user when performing a task. This could be a rock, stick, etc. Rocks can be a hammer, a projectile weapon, or a counting aid.

An example of a fake tool would be a magic wand as a tool to cast spells. But a magic wand could also be considered a real tool in the hands of a Las Vegas magician using it to entertain through deception. So whether a tool is real or fake depends on how its implemented.

A tool is not required to be a physical object. Many who perform precise tasks (surgeons, free-throw shooters,etc) use mental tools like meditation or visualization to be relaxed and focused when performing a task.

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    Meditation, good point! And, "weapon or tool?" depends on the intent of the wielder. In the movie "Arrival", there was a plot-point around those two words.
    – Scott Rowe
    Commented Jan 29 at 0:09
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    @ScottRowe I'm a fan of downhill skiing and Lindsey Vonn. You could see her (with eyes closed) visualize the course and her actions in the moments before making her run. The network made a point of showing it. I changed ,"tool" to hammer since a weapon is a type of tool. Commented Jan 29 at 0:20

The word 'tool' has several well-established meanings, which you can discover by consulting a reputable dictionary. One meaning is an object used to facilitate a task, especially a manual task, so a rock can be a tool. Indeed, for millennia rocks were commonly used as tools.

If you have found yourself wondering whether tools are tools, please let me dispel your uncertainty: tools, by definition, are tools.

Tools can be referred to as items, but not all items are tools.

The idea of a fake tool is an interesting one. As you have learned from the foregoing, the label 'tool' may be applied to an object according to its use rather than its nature, so provided the fake could be used to support the completion of a task it might still qualify as a tool. Which leaves me wondering whether a fake tool would be the ideal item to aid the completion of a fake task.

  • For questions about whether adjective nouns are really instances of that noun, it helps to nounify the adjective and restate with -like or "characterized by"
    – g s
    Commented Jan 28 at 22:49
  • A fake tool is a tool-like fakery, not a fakery-like tool. A red tool is a tool characterized by a shade of red, not a shade of red characterized by a tool. Etc. The meaning usually becomes obvious.
    – g s
    Commented Jan 28 at 22:57

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