ABSTRACT

JOKES may be divided into various types. Thus a joke or class of jokes can only be the subject of a joke of higher order. Otherwise we would get the same viciouscircle fallacy which gives rise to so many paradoxes in logic and mathematics. A certain Oxford scholar succeeded, to his own satisfaction, in reducing all jokes to primitive types, consisting of thirty-seven proto-Aryan jokes. When any proposition was propounded to him, he would reflect and afterwards pronounce on the question as to whether the proposition was a joke or not. If he decided, by his theory, that it was a joke, he would solemnly say : " There is that joke." If this narration is accepted as a joke, since it cannot be reduced to one of the proto-Aryan jokes under pain of leading us to commit a vicious-circle fallacy, we must conclude that there is at least one joke which is not proto-Aryan ; and, in fact, is of a higher type. There is no great difficulty in forming a hierarchy of jokes of various types. Thus a joke of the fourth type (or order) is as follows : A joke of the first order was told to a Scotchman, who, as wre would expect, was unable to see it.1 The person (A) who told this joke told the story of how the joke was received to another Scotchman thereby making a joke about a joke of the first order, and thus making a joke of the second order. A remarked on this joke that no joke could penetrate the head of the Scotchman to whom the joke of the first order was told, even if it were fired into his head with a gun. The Scotch-

man, after severe thought, replied : " But ye couldn't do that, ye know! " A repeated the whole story, which constituted a joke of the third order, to a third Scotchman. This last Scotchman again, after prolonged thought, replied ; " He had ye there ! " This whole story is a joke of the fourth order.