Can't remember a funny anecdote..
August 7, 2007 11:12 AM   Subscribe

What is this joke? ('concept of an apple'?)

I remember reading an anecdote, probably on the net, about a philosopher lecturing on about an 'apple' versus the 'concept of an apple'. The listener, tired of hearing this philosophical hogwash, gave an especially witty response.

(Maybe he bonked the philosopher on the head and said that he wanted him to understand the 'concept' of a bonk on the head. Or something.)

It may have been in MeFi, but I'm not sure. Anybody recall this anecdote? Googling for apples just brings me news about Steve Jobs :/
posted by theiconoclast31 to Grab Bag (6 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
This sounds a little like Samuel Johnson's famous "I refute it thus"; is this perhaps what you're thinking of?
posted by Johnny Assay at 11:51 AM on August 7, 2007

I read a similar joke (perhaps in Reader's Digest) where a young man came home from college and informed his priest that he was leaving the church. Philosophy 101 had taught him that nothing really exists, it's all an illusion created in the mind that may not exist either. He gave a longwinded explanation (with lots of namechecking) concluding something like "So you see it's as plain as the nose on your face, which, in fact, doesn't actually exist."

So the priest punched him in the nose and said "What hurts?"
posted by Martin E. at 12:16 PM on August 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

Semi-related: zen buddhism. But like many Zen koans, there's no punchline.
posted by GuyZero at 12:31 PM on August 7, 2007

Could it have been Diogenes?
posted by alex3005 at 3:05 PM on August 7, 2007

Best answer: similar vein:
Plato was discoursing on his theory of ideas and, pointing to the cups on the table before him, said while there are many cups in the world, there is only one `idea' of a cup, and this cupness precedes the existence of all particular cups.

"I can see the cup on the table," interupted Diogenes, "but I can't see the `cupness'".

"That's because you have the eyes to see the cup," said Plato, "but", tapping his head with his forefinger, "you don't have the intellect with which to comprehend `cupness'."

Diogenes walked up to the table, examined a cup and, looking inside, asked, "Is it empty?"

Plato nodded.

"Where is the `emptiness' which procedes this empty cup?" asked Diogenes.

Plato allowed himself a few moments to collect his thoughts, but Diogenes reached over and, tapping Plato's head with his finger, said "I think you will find here is the `emptiness'."
posted by alex3005 at 3:08 PM on August 7, 2007 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: That's exactly it, Alex. Thank you so much, I had to catch a plane, and couldn't check MetaFilter before going, and this question was bugging me throughout the trip.
posted by theiconoclast31 at 2:01 AM on August 8, 2007

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