In one of the world's most prestigious universities works a gifted philosopher. With his powers of genius he instantly demolishes any idea he comes across. From the works of ancient philosophers to the latest scientific theory, he can immediately see the flaw. Art and religion he dismisses as "imaginative fantasy" with no basis in fact or logic.
He wins every argument he takes part in. Soon no one dares disagree with him.
Still he feels unsatisfied with his life, and bored of his status as the world's greatest thinker. He sets a challenge: if anyone can defeat him in argument, he will relinquish his position to them.
The world's brightest minds come forward to challenge the philosopher. Theologians argue for the existence of God. Writers try to convince him of the value of literature. Scientists rigorously defend their theories.
All are defeated.
One day, a young lady knocks on the philosopher's door. He can tell she has no special intelligence, and he almost laughs her out of his office but for her meek beauty and her shining eyes.
"Come with me," she says.
The philosopher is intrigued, and follows her through the city. As they walk, the philosopher finds out the young lady is an actress, but she will answer no questions about where they are going.
They arrive at a small theatre. In front of the stage are three seats: one for the philosopher and one for the actress. The third seat is taken by a man who introduces himself as the director of the play they are about to watch.
The play begins. However, as soon as one of the actors walks on stage and begins speaking, the director shouts: "Clear the stage."
This happens many times.
Eventually the philosopher storms out. The young actress follows him.
"What kind of joke was that?" he shouts at her.
"Please, be calm," the actress says. "You are angry because I showed you a mirror of yourself.
"I know you are a man of great genius, and it is unlikely I could never understand your academic arguments. But I do know this: each time you come across a new idea, you demolish it simply because you have the power to do so.
"You are like the director, shouting, 'clear the stage, clear the stage', and the actors obey because he has the power."
To this the professor has no reply.
After a few moments silence, the philosopher confesses he has lost the argument.
"I will resign this evening, and you will have my seat at the university tomorrow," he says.
"I do not want your seat," the actress replies.
"What do you want then?" asks the philosopher.
"I only ask you one thing: that you share your university seat with imagination and wonder. Instead of looking for the flaw in everything, look first for the beauty."
The professor agrees to her terms.
During the next fortnight, his life is completely transformed.
On Wednesday afternoons he starts going to the theatre. Thursdays he spends at the local art gallery. On Fridays he pray at the mosque, Saturdays he is found at the synagogue, and on Sundays he goes to church.
Within weeks he is dismissed from his post as a lunatic. As he leaves his office for the final time, he dances out into the rain, happier than ever before.
Never again does he feel dissatisfied with his lot in life.