Wednesday, August 11, 2010

What Book?

Recently a grad student in philosophy recounted an interesting story to me.  She was presented with an important question representing the lion's share of her final exam in a course concerned in large part with various deep philosophical arguments about what is real and what isn't.  The textbook used by the professor neatly laid out the classical theorems, and the assignment on the final exam was to use said arguments to prove that the textbook itself didn't exist.  Whether it was the sheer audacity of the answer, or some existentialist gestalt something-or-other (showing my ignorance here, folks), she thought for a few minutes, wrote down two words, and walked out of the three-hour exam.  The two words?  "What book?"  The mark: an "A".  As soon as you talk about the book you're admitting that it exists!