2020 Meeting of the International Association for the Philosophy of Humor

I just received confirmation of the line-up for our session at the 2020 meeting of the American Philosophical Association in Chicago:

Thursday, February 27
Thursday evening, 7:30pm – 10:30pm

International Association for the Philosophy of Humor
“West and East: Humor in the History of Philosophy”
Chair: Lydia Amir (Tufts University)


John Marmysz (College of Marin)
“That’s Not Funny: The Humor of Diogenes”

Lydia Amir (Tufts University)
“Clarifying Montaigne’s Thought through Homo risibilis: How the Philosophy of Humor Bears on Unresolved Problems of Interpretation”

Matthew Meyer (The University of Scranton)
“Between Tragedy and Comedy: Nietzsche’s Zarathustra IV as Zwischenspiel”

Jonathan Weidenbaum (Berkeley College)
“To Laugh in a Pluralistic Universe: The Relevance of William James for the Philosophy of Humor”

Choong-Su Han (Ehwa Womans University, Seoul)
“An Elucidation of the Meaning of the Buddha’s Smile”

The Philosophy of Humor Yearbook

I’ve agreed to serve as associate editor for a new journal called the Philosophy of Humor Yearbook, the first issue or which is scheduled to be released in 2020 by de Gruyter. The journal will publish both scholarly articles as well as shorter, humorous pieces dealing with philosophical themes.

Those interested in contributing should send papers, ready for blind review, simultaneously to Lydia Amir at lydamir@mail.com and philhumor@degruyter.com by May 1st, 2019 along with a 100 word abstract and five key words. The call for papers can be viewed online at: http://lydamir.wixsite.com/humor/jour

The journal is part of the efforts of the International Association for the Philosophy of Humor (IAPH), which has held meetings in connection with the American Philosophical Association, and the World Congress of Philosophy. Membership in IAPH is free. You can join by emailing Lydia or by filling out an online form: http://lydamir.wixsite.com/humor/membership-dues-and-donations

Call for PapersPhilosophy of Humor Yearbook

The Berlin-based publisher, de Gruyter, has offered to sponsor a new journal dedicated to the philosophy of humor. A board consisting of top philosophers in the field has been assembled, among them John Morreall, Simon Critchley, Stephen Halliwell, Noël Carroll, John Lippitt, Daniel Dennett, Kathleen Higgins, and more.

The journal was launched in 2018, and will publish its first issue in 2020.

The Philosophy of Humor Yearbook addresses contemporary interests in the philosophy of humor. It invites philosophers from various traditions to share their research into humor, laughter, and the comic, and their roles (e.g., epistemological, ethical, aesthetic) within the history and practice of philosophy. The sole publication of its kind in this new burgeoning field, it publishes not only scholarly articles of the highest quality, but also humorous or satirical pieces of philosophic interest, as well as articles on the pedagogy of philosophy involving humor, jokes and cartoons.

The yearbook aims to be the authoritative periodical in the field. A peer-reviewed journal open to submissions by all philosophers, its goal is to advance the study of the philosophy of humor, understood as an umbrella term, by encouraging top-level scholarship in the field. The editorial and advisory boards are deeply committed to creating a genuinely international forum for publication, which integrates the many different traditions of philosophy and brings them into a constructive and fruitful dialogue.

​Apart from the scholarly articles making up the main part of the journal, the journal will also include a shorter part including humorous, witty, or satiric articles in the service of philosophic ideas. As humor is used, and has been used in the past, by various philosophical schools as a pedagogical device, the last section of the journal also addresses the pedagogy of philosophy, including appropriate witticisms, jokes, and even cartoons.

Finally, books will be reviewed and events related to the association will be advertised.

The deadline for the first issue is May 1st 2019.

Please send your submission to: lydamir@mail.com and philhumor@degruyter.com with an abstract of 100 words, 5 key words. Erase all traces of personal identity in the text. Name, affiliation, and contact details should be sent separate from the main paper.

​All submissions will be blind refereed by established scholars in the field. Only high-quality papers, written in excellent (American) English, will be accepted for publication. Potential authors should be prepared to make changes to their texts based on the comments received by the referees.

Articles should not exceed 25 pages, double-spaced and in 12 point Times New Roman font. All references should be in the notes, sent first as endnotes and published later as footnotes.

The manuscript should be sent in a Word version that is unlocked.

A New Year

marmysz_1-2-2-1-draggedI have submitted the manuscript for Cinematic Nihilism: Encounters, Confrontations, Overcomings to the publisher, Edinburgh University Press. It looks like the cover has already been posted on the Amazon UK website. The official release date is quite appropriate: Halloween, 2017.

In April, I’m looking forward to the Pacific Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association, where I’ll make a presentation to the International Association for the Philosophy of Humor. My presentation, “Humor, Nihilism and Film,” will address the ways in which nihilistic incongruity is implicated in both the humorous and the horrific aspects of films like Trainspotting and The Human Centipede.

Currently, I’m putting the finishing touches on a paper about spiritual homelessness and punk rock that will be part of a collection, edited by Juneko Robinson, tentatively titled Thinking Through Things. The collection focuses on the interconnection between artifacts and human thought.

The new year is off to a nihilistic start!

Pacific APA 2015

Welcome to VancouverThe 2015 Pacific Division meeting of the American Philosophical Association took place April 1 – 4 in Vancouver, British Columbia. It may seem a bit odd that the American Philosophical Association would meet in Canada; but Canada is part of North America, after all.

This marked my first visit to Vancouver. It is a place that I never previously thought much about. The only reason that it was even on my radar is because it is home to the classic punk band D.O.A. Consequently, I really didn’t have any expectations built up in my mind for this visit. I knew that I wanted to eat seafood, and I was looking forward to being outdoors. That’s about it.

Well, it turns out that Vancouver is really quite a nice place. It reminds me a lot of Seattle (where the APA met in 2013), as it is situated on an inlet of water that opens into the Pacific Ocean and it is nestled in amongst stunning mountains and wilderness. During our stay, the sound of seaplanes taking off and landing in Coal Harbor was a constant, background soundtrack, making me feel like we were in a place far from home; some place way north, where salty fishermen still risk their lives on the sea and lumberjacks still work the forests. The old TV show Northern Exposure kept coming to mind. Unlike the small rural Alaskan town in that show, however, Vancouver is a big, modern, metropolis.

Vancouver BuildingsThe city center of Vancouver looks like a simulation. Most of the skyscrapers are very new, and of a uniform style, making it seem like they were built all at once; like someone was in a hurry to complete the skyline. The buildings sit in a cluster, crowded right next to the water and demanding attention a bit too stridently. It is like the city planners really wanted people to recognize Vancouver as a metropolis. It is so polished and planned that it appears as if was intended to evoke  the generic form of “CITY”. Maybe this is why it is often used in films as a stand-in for other locations.

The conference itself was fun. I’ve mentioned in previous postings that over the years, the APA has become increasingly inclusive, hosting more and more sessions devoted to continental thought rather than just being a good ‘ole boy’s club for analytic philosophers. This time around there were multiple presentations on Heidegger and Nietzsche. I participated as a chairman in a session focused on the topic of authenticity. There were a number of presentations devoted to aesthetics; the most enjoyable for me being the inaugural meeting of the International Association for the Philosophy of Humor where I had the pleasant opportunity to meet John Moreall and Noël Carroll for the first time. I also enjoyed attending sessions on the aesthetics of disgust, film and philosophy and two meetings devoted to Kantian philosophy. There were so many thrilling things to listen to and discuss that I almost felt like I was at a philosophy carnival(…and yes, there were some clowns in attendance)! Now that the APA has become so open to speakers and topics across the whole range of philosophy, I’m thinking that I may have some success at organizing a panel on nihilism for a future meeting. We’ll see how that flies.

TotemPoleWhen not attending the conference, my wife and I spent our time walking. We wandered through picturesque Stanley Park, enjoying the sight of thousands of tulips and other sorts of flowers, the choppy waters of Vancouver Harbor, and an assortment of totem poles.  We also walked along the waterfront and into Gastown; the oldest part of Vancouver, which is now a hipster heaven crawling with tattooed twenty-somethings, overpriced restaurants and coffee houses. It was there that we enjoyed some good cookies (but awful coffee) at Maple Delights, a shop dedicated to all things maple. Later, at Chill Winston, I had some decent octopus on toast, brussel sprouts and a pint. My wife had a veggie burger. I thought the meal was too expensive. My wife said that’s because I’m part Scottish. Which reminds me: we also browsed the items in a shop devoted to Scottish imports called The House of McLaren. I didn’t buy anything, however, since everything was overpriced.

Pork Bun StoreOn another day, when we walked to Chinatown to eat pork buns, we found ourselves at one point engulfed in a sea of drug dealers, runaways, homeless kids, and other sorts of street people who seemed to appear out of nowhere. The throngs were crowded into an area of probably about 3 or 4 blocks on what I think was Hastings Street. As we passed into this area I initially thought that perhaps there was a street fair going on. Guys and girls with multicolored hair, mohawks and facial piercings lined the sidewalk, sitting on blankets spread with things for sale: books, old records, televisions sets, an engine that looked like it came out of a lawnmower, a kitchen sink. Every few steps that we took, there were people exchanging money for drugs. An unkempt man, smelling strongly of body odor, accidentally bumped into me and politely said, “Oh. Excuse me sir.” I checked my wallet. It was still there. As we continued on, I realized that there were police cars parked on either end of each block with officers monitoring the whole situation, not intervening but apparently just keeping an eye on things to be sure that they didn’t get out of hand.  This, as it turns out, is the part of town that the tourist guides suggest you avoid. I, however, disagree.  It was one of the highlights of our visit!

Capilano BridgeOn our last day in Canada we rented a car and drove to Capilano Reserve Park, a tourist attraction that features a long, alarmingly elevated foot bridge stretching across a deep river ravine. My wife and some of my relatives had warned me about the treacherous nature of this attraction and how it would take a great deal of bravery to walk across its narrow, swaying span. When I finally did mount the bridge, however, I felt let down. There really was nothing too scary about it at all. It was wide enough to accommodate three people shoulder to shoulder, and it was so solid that I wasn’t even aware of it swaying. In pictures it looks precarious. In reality its just another walk in the park.

I enjoyed our visit to Vancouver. It is a city that has a good mix of sophistication, urban grit and outdoor beauty. I think I’d like to go back sometime to go camping and see a punk rock show.