Here is a few lines from "Apples" by Peter Meinke which mention a "Dr. Johnson":

  One sympathizes with Dr. Johnson here
when he kicked a stone
to dispute the Bishop: such
airy-fairy distinctions, so much

Is this some specific person called "Dr. Johnson"? (If so, who?) Or is there something else meant/represented by "Dr. Johnson"?


1 Answer 1


It's an allusion to the famous anecdote about Samuel Johnson's "refutation" of Bishop George Berkeley's philosophy of subjective idealism, as told by James Boswell in The Life of Samuel Johnson:

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, "I refute it thus."

See the Wikipedia article for further discussion.

  • 3
    Why did you delete this answer? It seems a perfectly fine (and correct) answer. The lack of acceptance from the OP doesn't mean it's a bad answer; some people on this site don't accept any answers because so many literary questions are subjective and open to different interpretations.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 2, 2022 at 17:51
  • That's also not a good reason to delete an answer :-/ I saw your comment on the question "By the way, what was wrong with my answer?" and deleted it because the OP had already seen it and replied, so the comment wasn't serving any further purpose. (She deleted her reply, so I don't know if you saw it, but the gist was that nothing is wrong with your answer but she didn't appreciate such comments.)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 3, 2022 at 5:26
  • I wouldn't have deleted your comment if it hadn't been replied to, making it obsolete. (I didn't realise that you hadn't seen the reply.) There wasn't necessarily anything wrong with the original comment, although FWIW "accept" is one of the keywords decided by SE that allow comments to be single-flag deleted. And yes, deleting an answer is removing useful content from the site, which is usually a bad thing barring some exceptional circumstances, while adding useful content to the site is usually a good thing.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 3, 2022 at 6:05
  • Re that New Year's resolution: I'll tempt you back with questions about your favourite r-a-lafferty stories ;-)
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jan 3, 2022 at 10:14

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