The Glass is Too Big

Originally published: 07/2005 by J Wynia

A drinking glass once sat on a table in an college dorm kitchen, containing some water. 2 students entered the room and, upon noticing the glass, began arguing, in classic fashion, about whether it was half empty or half full. Confident in their understanding of philosophy, the volume and intensity of the argument rose, and others joined in, taking sides. The factions grew, and so did the complexity of their arguments. Each side not only devised plans to prove their side correct, but also provided strategies for what should be done with the glass once their side had won. The "half empty" people suggested that the remaining liquid should be either drunk or poured down the drain and the glass put away. On the other side, the "half full" contingent argued that the empty space should be filled so that the owner of the beverage could return to a completely full glass. This went on for the better part of an hour before a wise teacher walked in. The original opponents both rushed to the teacher to make their case.

"Is the glass half full or is it half empty?", they asked him, "We need someone to settle this."

The teacher looked at them both strangely, walked to the cupboard, and removed a smaller glass, carrying it over to the table. He picked up the original glass, poured most of its contents into the smaller one, swallowed the remaining few drops and said, "The glass is too big."

-J Wynia


Lex on 8/2/2005
Alternatively, the glass is full - half with water, half with air.
Randall Munroe on 8/18/2005
There's always my view.
J Wynia on 12/15/2005
It's also too full to be used as a pencil holder or any one of thousands of other possibilities. The nugget of truth in the parable is that the 3rd option and beyond are often there, but we're too busy arguing about the 2 options we've been "given" to even see the myriad of choices we really have.
Carl Bromley on 12/21/2005
A fourth option.... as a prop for a photo shoot. With the glass (whether half full or half empty),I recommend: baling wire (or twine), duct tape (use your imagination), and a computer keyboard. Add your suggestions for: More props Best use of the result
Robert Nagle on 12/21/2005
Cockybastard has another (almost zen) version of this. His 92 year uncle (who has a weblog!) told him "The glass is beautiful."
Shido on 7/17/2006
eyes sees only what we want to see ... some people will have their eyes first seen the empty half , and therefore , for them the glass is half empty !! others will have their eyes first look to the full half of the glass , so the glass is hald full for them it's easy ;)
PhedUp on 7/21/2006
There is no glass...
natalie hulme on 8/10/2006
the glass is fulfilling its destiny
Shane on 9/6/2006
What glass? ;)
The Dude on 10/11/2006
The glass is the water's prison.
MacAnder on 11/4/2006
The water IS. Why is it always about the glass?
el Toro on 4/1/2007
If the glass was smashed in the forest... would anyone hear it?
ZigZagMajestik on 9/2/2007
Be glad you have water, and a glass to drink it from.
WordPress Theme Advice on 7/12/2007
For so many times, we get into arguments like these. The existence of third option remains invisible to the universe. I am a believer in relative viewing, so almost every side appears to be true, whether it is the first two or the third. But I got the point - the third option does exist. Thanks for such a nice post.
kevin williamson on 11/28/2009
This is the basis of an old George Carlin joke. "Some see the glass as half full. Others see it as half empty. I see it ... as too big."
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