The Spinning Top


There was a philosopher who always liked to hang around wherever children were playing. And if he caught sight of a boy who owned a spinning top, he would  immediately get himself ready. Scarcely had the top begun to spin when the philosopher would chase it and try to capture it. It never bothered him that the children shouted and tried to keep him away from their plaything. He was very happy if he could capture the top even as it spun, but only for a moment, whereupon he would throw it to the ground and go away.

For he believed that the knowledge of every tiny thing, therefore even of a spinning top for example, would suffice to produce knowledge of the universal

Hence, he refused to concern himself with the great problems, since that seemed all very uneconomical. If the tiniest thing were properly known, then everything would be known; and that is why he concerned himself so much with the spinning top. And whenever anyone prepared to spin the top, he entertained the hope that he would be successful this time, and as soon as the top was spinning, this hope became a certainty as he rushed breathlessly after it.

But once he held the silly wooden thing in his hands, he felt suddenly ill, and the cries of the children, which he had not noticed before but now suddenly came piercing upon his ears, drove him away reeling around like a top beneath the blows of a clumsy switch.

 Alexander García Düttmann in his book ‘Memory of Thought’

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