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Riddle For A Winter Morning

A sunset in Sicily
A sunset in Sicily

I love jokes and riddles. Today I want to share one of my favorites. I'll post the answer on Monday.

I first heard this one sitting with friends at an outdoor table during sunset at a village near the shore in Sicily back in 2008. The strange pink color of this morning's sunrise here in Berkeley reminded me of that evening, and the riddle. I think it was my friend Giovanni Frazzetto who offered up the joke. He definitely organized the evening.

What is greater than God

Worse than the Devil?

The poor have it.

The rich need it.

If you eat it or drink it, you will die.

Update: Monday 24 December 2012

Nothing. That's the answer.

It's hard not to be puzzled by nothing. We deal with it fluently all the time. Yet it counts as one of logic's and, indeed, philosophy's, greatest modern achievements to get nothing and its place in our thought and talk right.

So here's to nothing and everything it holds open for us!

Thank you all for the lovely discussion and the many jokes, most of which I have already passed on to friends and family.

And thanks for your engagement with our work and play here at 13.7.

Happy New Year!

You can keep up with more of what Alva Noë is thinking on Facebook and on Twitter: @alvanoe

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Alva Noë is a contributor to the NPR blog 13.7: Cosmos and Culture. He is writer and a philosopher who works on the nature of mind and human experience.

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