(mfe) Buddhism, they say, has a third standard answer in basic philosophy or logic: Mu.Yes, No, and Mu. Sometimes Germans also have this third state.

Douglas Hofstadter, former Regensburg university professor, and author of the epic book “Goedel Escher Bach”, explains that the “Mu” in eastern philosophy more or less reduces to “It does not make sense to ask this question!”, just like: “Is the moon still there when no one’s watching her?”

Somehow, its German variant has a larger scope. When asking a German, you sometimes end up with recieving a “Jein” when you’d expect a clear “Ja!” or “Nein!”. “Jein” is a delicate way of saying Yes and No at the same time. Not only can it mean both, no, it will. Germans use it when they express their doubts about either one of the standard answers. Whenever a german doesn’t see strong advantages on either Yes or No, he’ll go for a “Jein.”

And there’s even a  – not really funny – song about it:


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