My Years with Monty Python,
or, What's So Funny About
Language, Truth, and
GARY L. HARDCASTLE
And though a philosopher may live remote from business, the
genius of philosophy, if carefully cultivated by several, must gradu-
ally diffuse itself throughout the whole society, and bestow a similar
correctness on every art and calling.
—David Hume, An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, §1
Philosophy [is] on the whole no laughing matter.
—W.V. Quine, Quiddities, Preface
Here's a true story. In the early 1990s, as a junior philosophy professor, I was invited to talk to the undergraduate philosophy club at the university where I had recently been hired. I accepted of course, and I even offered a rather promising title: “Themes in Contemporary Analytic Philosophy as Reflected in the Work of Monty Python.” That title—inspired by a nervous joke we traded back and forth in graduate school, that the dissertations we were all laboring on, each an example of the painstaking conceptual analysis for which analyhc philosophy was named, were in fact on the philosophy of Monty Python—showed up almost immediately on flyers around campus, above a date, time, place, and—in large letters—my name. One got the distinct impression that I would give the talk by that name.