Academic journal article Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations

'Knew Jean-Paul Sartre': Philosophy, Education and Comedy

Academic journal article Linguistic and Philosophical Investigations

'Knew Jean-Paul Sartre': Philosophy, Education and Comedy

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT. Ludwig Wittgenstein suggests that 'A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes'. The idea for this dialogue comes from a conversation that Morwenna Griffiths and Michael Peters had at the Philosophy of Education annual meeting at the University of Cambridge, 2011 that was sparked by an account of an assessment of a thesis where one of the examiners unexpectedly exclaimed 'I knew Jean-Paul Sartre' trying to trump the discussion. This conversation is a dialogue about comedy and humor as a basis for philosophy, education and pedagogy that provides an introduction to recent works and a context for ongoing research.

A serious and good philosophical work could be written consisting entirely of jokes. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value

Let us ask ourselves: why do we feel a grammatical joke to be deep?

(And that is what the depth of philosophy is.) (PI § 111)

Ludwig Wittgenstein

A DIALOGUE BETWEEN

MORWENNA GRIFFITHS AND MICHAEL A PETERS

Morwenna Griffiths holds the Chair of Classroom Learning in the Moray House School of Education at Edinburgh University. She has taught in primary schools, and at the University of Isfahan, Iran, at Christ Church College HE in Canterbury, and at Oxford Brookes, Nottingham and Nottingham Trent Universities. Her recent research has included philosophical theorizing and empirical investigation, related to epistemology of auto/biography, social justice, public spaces, the nature of practice, feminization and creativity. Her books include Action for Sodai Justice in Education: Fairly Different; Educational Research for Social Justice, and Feminisms and the Self: the Web of Identity, morwenna.griffiths@ed.ac.uk

Michael A. Peters is Professor of Education at the University of Illinois (UrbanaChampaign). He holds degrees in English literature, geography and philosophy before completing a PhD in the philosophy of education based on the work of Ludwig Wittgenstein. He has interests in the relations between education, philosophy and politics. He developed the first online-only doctorate in the United Kingdom while Research Professor at the University of Glasgow and was Director of Global Studies in Education, an online-only master degree at the University of Illinois. He edits three journals including Educational Philosophy and Theory (http://www.blackwellpubIishing.com/jouraal.asp?ref=00 13-1857); Policy Futures in Education (http://www. wwwords.co.uk/PFIE/) and ?-Learning and Digital Media (http.V/www.wwwords. co.uk/elea/). He has written over sixty books and three hundred articles and chapters, including: The Virtue of Openness: Education, Science and Scholarship in a Digital Age (with Peter Roberts) (Paradigm, 2011, forthcoming); Subjectivity and Truth: Foucault, Education and the Culture of Self (Peter Lang, 2007); and Knowledge Economy, Development and the Future of the University (Sense, 2007). He has acted as an advisor to government on distributed knowledge systems and digital scholarship in Scotland, NZ, South Africa and the EU. mpet001@illinois.edu MP: The idea for this dialogue comes from a conversation that Morwenna Griffiths and I had at the Philosophy of Education annual meeting at the University of Oxford, 2011. It was a discussion that at one point focused on an assessment of a piece of work where one of the examiners used the phrase ? Knew Jean-Paul Sartre'.

MG: Our discussion started in laughter. We were recounting episodes in committee meetings, focusing, I see now, on bad arguments. One episode concerned me, early in my career in Higher Education. I was attending, for the first time, a Board of Examiners at a College of Higher Education. The Board was chaired by a rather pompous, rather self-satisfied professor of French from the University which awarded our degrees. There was a question over a very high mark I had awarded for an essay in a philosophy of education course. In my estimation the student had made an honest and creative attempt to discuss Sartre's Being and Nothingness. …

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