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Torn between election and Eurovision

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21.04.2019

What does the prime minister's choice of election day, 18 May, have to do with Buridan's Ass, surely the third most famous donkey of all time?*

It is that Buridan's Ass comes into the election picture because in making election day the same day as the Grand Final of the Eurovision Song Contest the prime minister has created for millions of us an alarming election-night TV conflict-dilemma. Which drama, which extravaganza of unfolding results should we Velcro ourselves to our couch to be absorbed by? Decisions! Decisions! Buridan's Ass, a perplexed mule, was faced with just such a dilemma.

Portrait of singer-songwriter Kate Miller-Heidke who will be representing Australia at Eurovision. Photo: Dominic Lorrimer

The influential 14th century philosopher Jean Buridan hypothesised (he was making a satirical point about the idea of free will) an experiment in which a very thirsty and very hungry donkey is led to a precise spot between a bucket of water and a bale of hay. The donkey, Buridan mused, will die of both thirst and hunger because, exercising free will, it will be unable to make up its tiny asinine mind about which to do, whether to eat or to do drink? Ever since then Buridan's and his muddle-headed mule have stood for those occasions in life when we are beset with chronic indecision because we have a powerful tug-of-war of choices.

On the........

© Canberra Times