Taking Notes: Eye on Education – Academic Journal Holds Joke Contest

Taking Notes: Eye on Education – Academic Journal Holds Joke Contest

This column focuses on a wide range of issues affecting post-secondary students. Students are encouraged to submit suggestions and educational topics they are concerned about, or personal experiences with courses or university situations they feel other students should know about. If suggest a topic or a course alert for taking notes, contact voice@ausu.org, attn: Debbie Jabbour


In an effort to increase readership and popularize the discipline of philosophy in schools, the Canadian Philosophical Association (CPA) held a joke contest for its newsletter, The Bulletin — a journal published for and by the nation’s “weightiest thinkers” (Boswell, 2005). In response to complaints that nobody was reading The Bulletin, the CPA formed an Official Joke Committee (OJC) to review entries. The OJC consisted of 8 members from universities across Canada, with a mandate to “assess the submitted jokes according to a procedure that will be arbitrarily chosen by the committee, possibly with the help of international experts.” Out of the eighteen submissions received, four winners were chosen. One of the winners was called, “Kant Joke”:
Student: “I find Kant incredibly difficult. Can you help me?”
Professor: “Yes, of course. The first thing to remember is that Kant is not difficult in himself, but is only phenomenally difficult.”

Another runner-up was a joint entry from Toronto’s York University, entitled, “How Philosophers Do It.” The joke is quite lengthy, including about 50 items like, “Cartesians do it methodically,” “Marxists struggle,” “Heracliteans can’t do it twice,” with the punchline, “Solipsists do it by themselves. In fact they do it of themselves, and for themselves as well: they are the only democrats in the world”

The Bulletin is entitled “perspicuity,” meaning clearness and lucidity.

Boswell, R. (2005). How many philosophers does it take to screw up a punchline? Academic journal strives to boost sagging circulation with joke contest. Edmonton Journal, June 15, 2005. Canada.com News:
Canadian Philosophical Association: http://www.acpcpa.ca/

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