Would my college philosophy professor think we’re in a recession?

This is a widely circulated story from the early 1990s. It appeared online and in emails in many different versions. Please tell me if you know it to be earlier, and/or the origin. I’ve refined the wording of the story as follows:

A philosophy professor gave an unusual test to his class. He lifted his chair onto his desk and wrote on the board simply: “Prove that this chair does not exist.” The class set to work, composing long complex explanations – except one student, who took just thirty seconds to complete and hand in his paper, attracting surprised glances from his classmates and the professor. Some days later the class received their grades for the test. The student who took thirty seconds was judged the best. His answer was, “What chair?”

My question to you: What recession?

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