When I attended UCLA —
during the late Pliocene and early Pleistocene epochs — a story circulated among the undergrads about the ultimate final exam, which supposedly had taken place in a Philosophy class.
As urban legend had it, the students, bleary eyed from sleepless nights of contemplating The Theory of Forms and defending or arguing whether one can indeed step twice in the same river waited while the professor sauntered into the mini amphitheater, faced them square on, dramatically waiting for silence. Then theatrically, he pronounced, “For your final exam, answer only this one question.”
With staged flourish, he turned to the chalkboard and scrawled:
Most in attendance did not expect this, and ascribing to a more crass philosophy — “If you can’t dazzle ‘em with brilliance, baffle ‘em with B.S.” — utilized the full allotted period to elaborate on this ultimate of all queries. After all, a question with such far-reaching bounds must be worthy of many pages and much ink.
Yet, as the story unfolds, the student who received the highest grade took no more than ten seconds to pen his rejoinder, strolling from the room almost immediately, while histrionically dropping his blue book on the instructor’s desk.
Simply, he had written,
Now it’s my turn: “Why?”
“Why do we do what we do when we know that what we do will move us further from health, happiness or success?”
Before the knee-jerk reply, “I don’t,” escapes your lips, consider these examples. [Read more…]