C. E. M. Joad

Other names: 

Cyril Edwin Mitchinson Joad

Date of birth: 
12 Aug 1891
City of birth: 
Country of birth: 
Date of death: 
09 Apr 1953
Location of death: 

Balliol College, University of Oxford; Birkbeck College, University of London.


C. E. M. Joad was an English philosopher and popular educator. He was educated at Oxford and, after serving as a civil servant, was appointed Head of Philosophy at Birkbeck College (University of London) in 1930. A prolific writer and conservationist, he shot to fame as a broadcasting star when he joined the BBC radio programme ‘The Brain Trust’ in 1942. He was convicted of fare-dodging and was sacked by the BBC in 1948.

As an undergraduate at Oxford, Joad became an admirer of George Bernard Shaw; he turned to socialism and was a committed pacifist throughout his life. He was a member of the Fabian Society but was expelled in 1925 due to his philandering (he rejoined in 1943). In 1931, he became Director of Propaganda for the New Party, but soon left the party along with John Strachey when its leader Oswald Mosley turned to fascism. In 1932 he founded with H. G. Wells and others the Federation of Progressive Societies and Individuals.

Joad looked to eastern philosophy as an antidote to western modernity. He attended a number of Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s lectures and wrote on his philosophy (Counter Attack from the East, 1933). He also wrote a book on Indian civilization (1936) assisted by Girija Mookerjee, and was a regular contributor to the Anglo-Indian Theosophist periodical Aryan Path. Joad was an admirer of Gandhi, and contributed to a collection of essays (edited by S. Radhakrishnan) on Gandhi to celebrate his 70th birthday.

Mulk Raj Anand, in Conversations in Bloomsbury, records a long talk he had with Joad about God and philosophy. Anand and Joad both attended Professor Dawes Hicks’s seminar at University College London, and it appears that this is how they got to know each other. Joad also met through Anand his fellow student Nikhil Sen and his girlfriend Edna Thomson.


Mulk Raj Anand, W. Arnold-Forster, G. M. Boumphrey, Fenner Brockway, Janet Chance, G. K. Chesterton, Clough William-Ellis, John Carl Flügel, Emma Goldman, M. K. Gandhi, Basil Henry Liddell Hart, Dawes Hicks, Kingsley Martin (friend, pacifist, editor of the New Statesman in 1931), Francis Meynell, Naomi Mitchison, Girija Mookerjee, George Orwell, D. N. Pritt, Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Archibald Robertson, Bernard Russell, Nikhil Sen, George Bernard Shaw, John Strachey, W. Olaf Stapledon, Marie Carmichael Stopes, J. W. N. Sullivan, Edna Thomson, Sybil Thorndyke, Allan Young, Rebecca West, H. G. Wells, Julian Huxley, Archibald Bruce Campbell (the BBC 'Brain Trust').

BBC, Federation of Progressive Societies and Individuals.

Involved in events: 
Published works: 

Robert Owen, Idealist, Fabian Tract no. 182 (London: Fabian Society, June 1917)

Essays in Common Sense Philosophy (London: Headley Bros., 1919) 

Common-Sense Ethics (London: Methuen, 1921)

Common-Sense Theology (London: T. Fisher Unwin, 1922)

The Highbrows: A Modern Novel (London: Jonathan Cape, 1922)

Priscilla and Charybdis, and Other Stories (London: Herbert Jenkins, 1924) 

Samuel Butler, 1835-1902 (London: Leonard Parsons, 1924) 

Introduction to Modern Philosophy (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924)

Introduction to Modern Political Theory (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924)   

The Case for the New Party (London: Bird & Sons, 1925)

Mind and Matter: The Philosophical Introduction to Modern Science (London: Nisbet & Co., 1925) 

Thrasymachus: or, the Future of Morals (London: Kegan Paul & Co., 1925)

(with John Strachey) After-Dinner Philosophy (London: Routledge & Sons, 1926)

The Babbitt Warren (London: Kegan Paul & Co., 1926)

The Bookmark (London: John Westhouse, 1926)

The Mind and its Workings (London: Benn, 1927)

Diogenes, or the Future of Leisure (London: Kegan Paul & Co., 1928)

The Future of Life. A Theory of Vitalism (London and New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1928)

(with Chapman Cohen) Materialism: Has It Been Exploded? (London: Watts & Co., 1928)

The Meaning of Life (London: Watts & Co., 1928)

Matter, Life and Value (London: Oxford University Press, 1929) 

The Present and Future of Religion (London: Ernest Benn, 1930)

The Horrors of the Countryside (London: Hogarth Press, 1931)

The Story of Civilization (London: A. & C. Black, 1931)

Philosophical Aspects of Modern Science (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1932)

Under the Fifth Rib: A Belligerent Autobiography (London: Faber & Faber, 1932) (reissued as The Book of Joad, London, 1939)

Counter Attack from the East: The Philosophy of Radhakrishnan (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1933)

Guide to Modern Thought (London: Faber & Faber, 1933)

(with Arnold Henry Moore Lunn) Is Christianity True? A Correspondence between Arnold Lunn and C. E. M. Joad (London: Eyre & Spottiswoode, 1933) 

Liberty To-day (London: Watts & Co., 1934)

A Charter for Ramblers (London: Hutchinson & Co., 1934) 

(ed.) Manifesto: Being the Book of the Federation of Progressive Societies and Individuals (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1934)

Return to Philosophy: Being a Defence of Reason, an Affirmation of Values and a Plea for Philosophy (London: Faber & Faber, 1935)

The Future of Morals (London: K. Paul, 1936)

The Dictator Resigns (London: Methuen & Co., 1936)

The Story of Indian Civilisation (London: Macmillan & Co., 1936)

Guide to Philosophy (London: Victor Gollancz, 1936)

The Testament of Joad (London: Faber & Faber, 1937) 

Guide to Modern Wickedness (London: Faber & Faber, 1938)

Guide to the Philosophy of Morals and Politics (London: Victor Gollancz, 1938)

(ed.) How to Write, Think and Speak Correctly (London: Odhams Press, 1939)

Why War? (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1939)

‘The Authority of Detachment and Moral Force’, in Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan (ed.) Mahatma Gandhi: Essays and Reflections on his Life and Work, Presented to him on his Seventieth Birthday, October 2nd, 1939 (London: G. Allen & Unwin, 1939), pp. 155-61

Journey through the War Mind (London: Faber & Faber, 1940)

Philosophy for Our Times (London: T. Nelson & Sons, 1940)

What is at Stake, and Why Not Say So? (London: Victor Gollancz, 1940)

The Philosophy of Federal Union (London: Macmillan & Co., 1941)

Pieces of Mind (London: Faber & Faber, 1942)

God and Evil (London: Faber & Faber, 1942)

The Adventures of the Young Soldier in Search of a Better World, with drawings by Mervyn Peake (London: Faber & Faber, 1942)

An Old Countryside for New People (London and Letchworth: J. M. Dent & Sons, 1942) 

Philosophy (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1944)

About Education (London: Faber & Faber, 1945)

Opinions (London: Westhouse, 1945)

The Untutored Townsman’s Invasion of the Country (London: Faber & Faber, 1945)

(with Shaw Desmond) Spiritualism (London: Muse Arts, 1946)

More Opinions (London: Westhouse, 1946)

Conditions of Survival (London: Federal Union, 1946)

The Rational Approach to Conscription (London: No Conscription Council, 1947)

Specialisation and the Humanities (London: Birkbeck College, 1947)

Decadence: A Philosophical Inquiry (London: Faber & Faber, 1948)

A Year More or Less (London: Victor Gollancz, 1948)

The Principles of Parliamentary Democracy (London: Falcon Press, 1949)

Shaw (London: Victor Gollancz, 1949) 

A Critique of Logical Positivism (London: Victor Gollancz, 1950)

An Introduction to Contemporary Knowledge (Leeds: E. J. Arnold & Son, 1950)

The Pleasure of Being Oneself (London: George Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1951)

A First Encounter with Philosophy (London: James Blackwood & Co., 1952)

The Recovery of Belief : A Restatement of Christian Philosophy (London: Faber & Faber, 1952) 

(ed.) Shaw and Society: An Anthology and a Symposium (London: Odhams Press, 1953)

Folly Farm (London: Faber & Faber, 1954)

Contributions to periodicals: 

Spectator (review of Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, 142.5246, 12 January 1929)

Spectator (review of S. Radhakrishnan, Kalki or the Future of Civilisation, 142.5251, 16 February 1929)

Aryan Path (‘What Eastern Religions had to Offer to Western Civilization’, 1.1, 1930)

Spectator (review of Margaret Barton and Osbert Sitwell (eds) Victoriana, 146.5369, 23 May 1931)

Spectator (‘The English, Are they Human?’, 147.5377, 18 July 1931)

Aryan Path (‘The Puzzle of Indian Philosophy’, review of Surendranath Dasgupta, A History of Indian Philosophy, 3.8, 1932)

The London Mercury (‘The Pacifist Case’, review of Bertrand Russell, Which Way to Peace, 35.205, November 1932)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Why Pacifists are Ineffective’, 6.124, 8 July 1933)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Pacifists Escape from Dilemma’, 6.144, 25 November 1933)

Aryan Path (‘The Revival of Hedonism’, 4.11, November 1933)

Contemporary Review (‘The Future and Prospects of Life’, 145, January - June 1934)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Shaw Stories’, review of Bernard Shaw, Short Stories and Shavings, 7.172, 9 June 1934)

Aryan Path, (‘A Western Theory’, 7.8, 1936)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Constructive Pacifism’, 12.285, 8 August 1936)

Aryan Path (‘The Testimony of Indian Philosophy’, review on S. Radhakrishna and J. H. Muirhead (eds) Contemporary Indian Philosophy, 8.2, 1937)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Culture and Philosophy of India’, review of W. H. Morehead and A. C. Chatterjee, A Short History of India, Radhakumud Mookerji; Hindu Civilisation; S. Radhakrishna and J. H. Muirhead (eds) Contemporary Indian Philosophy, 13.307, 9 January 1937)

Aryan Path (‘What is Soul?’, 8.5, May 1937)

Aryan Path (‘Guide to Mysticism’, review of Radhakamal Mukerjee, Theory and Art of Mysticism, 8.11, November 1937)

Aryan Path (‘Religion of the West’, 9.3, March 1938)

Spectator (‘The East Admonishes the West’, 161.5745, 5 August 1938)

Aryan Path (‘Educating and Organizing For Peace: Free Trade and Disarmament’, 10.1, January 1939)

Spectator (review of Wyndham Lewis, The Jews, Are They Human?, 162.5783, 28 April 1939)

Aryan Path (‘Indian Logicians: A Study in Indian and Western Philosophizing’, review of S. C. Chatterjee, The Nyaya Theory of Knowledge, 10.10, October 1939)

Aryan Path (‘The Only Cure: The Renaissance of Mysticism in Western Thought’, 11.6, June 1940)

New Statesman and Nation (‘An Open Letter to H. G. Wells’, 20.495, 17 August 1940)

The Evening Standard (‘The Most Ordinary of Great Men’, 14 August 1946)

New Statesman and Nation (‘Tribute to Shaw’, 40.1028, 18 November 1950)


Jagadisan M. Kumarappa, Aryan Path 4.1, January 1933, pp. 62-3 (Under the Fifth Rib)

J. W. N. Sullivan, Aryan Path 4.2, February 1933, pp. 121-3 (Philosophical Aspects of Modern Science)

K. S. Shelvankar, Aryan Path 4.8, August 1933, pp. 563-4 (Guide to Modern Thought)

J. P. W., Aryan Path 4.12, December 1933, pp. 841-4 (Is Christianity True?)

P. Mahadevan, Aryan Path 10.10, October 1939, pp. 505-6 (Guide to Modern Wickedness)

Aryan Path 11.7, July 1940, pp. 607-8 (Journey Through the War Mind)

K. S. Ramaswami Sastri, Aryan Path 11.12, December 1940, pp. 360-3 (Philosophy for Our Times)

Brailsford, Henry Noel, New Statesman and Nation 46.1182, 31 October 1953, p. 532 (Shaw and Society)

Secondary works: 

Thomas, Geoffrey, Cyril Joad (London: Birkbeck College, 1992)

Martin, Kingsley, ‘Cyril Joad’, New Statesman and Nation 45.1154 (18 April 1953), pp. 446-7


Joad, C. E. M., The Story of Indian Civilisation (London: Macmillan & Co., 1936), pp. viii-x


I am in no sense an authority on India. I have never visited the country and have to rely for my view of it upon reading and talk, upon fairly extensive talk, with Indian students visiting England. Thus the book that follows is in the nature less of a scroll continuously unfolding, and revealing as it unfolds, the whole pageant of Indian life and thought, than of a series of historical vignettes. What follows is, therefore, less the story of Indian civilisation, than an account of the reactions produced by that story in a highly interested spectator, a product of the very different civilisation of the West, whose primary purpose in writing has been to make clear to himself what it is that India has or has had which marks off her civilisation from that of all other peoples, and how much of this ‘something’, which romantic writers call ‘the spirit of India’, may safely adopt without danger to her ‘spirit’ or to what still remains to her of it.

Such information as this book contains, such authority as it possesses, are due to Girija Mookerjee but for whose collaboration it could not have been written.


The extract gives an interesting insight into Joad’s views of India, and his relationship with the Indian students whom he met in London.

Archive source: 

Joad’s correspondence with Sir Arnold Lunn, The Sir Arnold Lunn Papers, Lauinger Library Special Collection, Georgetown University, Washington, DC

Correspondence between Joad and Liddell Hart, Papers of Capt Sir Basil Henry Liddell Hart, ref: GB99 KCLMA Liddell Hart, Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King’s College, London

Senate House Library, University of London

Joad’s correspondence with New Statesman magazine, Sussex University Library Special Collections