Cyril Joad

I was reminded of one of the great characters of 20th Century British philosophy – C.E.M. Joad. The Wikipedia entry is impoverished: if you really want a nicely written and informed piece on Joad, you should check out my chum Geoffrey Thomas’ 44 page booklet Cyril Joad published by Birkbeck College (ISBN 090790419X). Geoff won the Joad memorial prize some thirty years ago, a prize awarded by the Birkbeck Philosophy Department, the department Joad led from 1930 until his death in 1953. Years later, Geoff’s curiosity about the man was piqued: I helped Geoff with the research for this booklet by spending many a pleasant hour at the old British Library Reading Room. Joad was as goaty as he looked, and incurred the wrath of Churchill and Russell. The former because of the infamous Oxford Union “King and Country” debate of 1933; the latter accused Joad of plagiarism. The story of Joad’s rise and fall would not be out of place in the current celebrity driven culture. If you’d like a copy of Geoff’s booklet, I’d advise you contacting Birkbeck’s External Relations Department. The chapter headings for the book are: Preface, Prologue, The Boy, The Oxonian, The Civil, Servant, The Academic, The Odd Man Out, The Pacifist, The Socialist, The Environmentalist,  The Religious Thinker, The Psychical Researcher, The Friend, The Celebrity, and The Outcast.

This book commemorates Cyril Joad, a philosopher who believed that philosophy should not be a mere academic speciality but a power in everyday life.