Mass unemployment begs thorny new question on nature of reality.
ITH MILLIONS of Americans fresh off another year of Labor Day picnics, philosophers are beginning to ask what most average people have never pondered: If no one at a Labor Day picnic is currently employed, does the picnic actually exist? And, one corollary to that is: If people are grilling hotdogs at such a picnic, are the hotdogs calorie-free?
"There's more," added Dr. Perry Zimm, Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. "Can you really be pulled over after drinking at such a picnic if the beer is, how shall I say, 'not beer'? The questions simply go on and on," noted the Professor.
Dr. Zimm said the inspiration for this philosophical puzzle came to him when he was attending a party for new faculty a few weeks ago.
"I introduced myself to this beautiful young assistant professor, and I thought, 'if my wife is in the other room and doesn't see me, am I really flirting?' I posed the question to the assistant professor, who, citing Heidegger, posited that I could not be, and therefore would not really be in her room in one hour, either. That got me to thinking."
Practical applications of the work of Zimm and his colleagues are likely to be years away, the professor admitted, "if indeed any actually exist, did exist, or might exist in another dimension. But I will let you know. What is your email address? But then again, what is anyone's email address?"
The professor and several of his colleagues will be posing their philosophical Labor Day inquiry to the incoming freshman class and hope to find some talented interns in the process "to help us sort out this new conundrum," said Dr. Zimm, adding, "it's quite likely that many of our students will find themselves unemployed at just such theoretical picnics when they graduate, but, armed with four years of study, will know whether to bring chips or buns."
© 9.6.11 Kate Heidel