Coming Soon:

The following books by Robert Paul Wolff are available on Amazon.com as e-books: KANT'S THEORY OF MENTAL ACTIVITY, THE AUTONOMY OF REASON, UNDERSTANDING MARX, UNDERSTANDING RAWLS, THE POVERTY OF LIBERALISM, A LIFE IN THE ACADEMY, MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, AN INTRODUCTION TO THE USE OF FORMAL METHODS IN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY.
Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON KANT'S CRITIQUE OF PURE REASON. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for "Robert Paul Wolff Kant." There they will be.

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




Total Pageviews

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

BELATED FRIDAY LIST

Since my life has been a little complicated lately, I neglected to add my pittance to everyone else's impressive list of activities.  My apologies.  Herewith a few items for next Friday's list:

Signed up for a small monthly donation to John L. Lewis.
Gave some more to Jon Ossoff's campaign.
Called newly elected Democratic NC Governor Roy Cooper, for whom I rang doorbells, and congratulated him on withdrawing efforts to defend NC's hideous voter suppression bill in the courts.
Called Senators Burr and Tillis to protest their support of Trump's new draconian assault on undocumented residents.

I figure we need to express our support when someone does something right.

Still struggling to get my head above water, but I have started preparing my Freud lectures.  Marx will come in the Fall.


AVE ATQUE VALE

Jim Westrich tells me that Kenneth Arrow passed away yesterday.  Arrow was 95.  Kenneth Arrow was one of the giants of modern economic theory.  I never met Arrow, so I will leave it to others to talk about him as a man, as a teacher, and as a scholar.  For me, he is and will always be the author of Social Choice and Individual Values, a 1951 monograph that was, I believe, his doctoral dissertation.  It contains his elegant proof of the so-called General Possibility [or Impossibility] Theorem, a generalization of the Paradox of Majority Rule.  Those who are interested can find a statement of the proof on my second blog, Formal Methods in Political Philosophy.  Arrow was an old New York socialist who retained, throughout his life, an unshakable progressive orientation.  I found his work to be genuinely beautiful.  It was expanded and developed by another admirable and brilliant economist, Amartya Sen, in Collective Choice and Social Welfare [1970.]


Tuesday, February 21, 2017

THE FREUD LECTURES

Here is the flier for my Freud lectures [minus the picture of the great man, which I could not figure out how to insert].




Four lectures on
The thought of Sigmund Freud
By
Professor Robert Paul Wolff
Emeritus Professor of Philosophy and Afro-American Studies
The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Mondays at 1 p.m. in Caldwell 213
March 27, April 3, April 10, and April 17, 2017


The lectures are open to members of the UNC – CH community and presuppose no prior knowledge of Freud’s writings or legacy.  The purpose of the lectures is to provide an introduction to the underlying methods, concepts, presuppositions, and results of Freud’s revolutionary work.  The focus of the lectures will be on Freud’s central psychological theories, not on his cultural critique.


Trigger warning:  There will not be much talk about sex.

PREVIEWS OF COMING ATTRACTIONS

As I have several times observed, the development of modern social science can be viewed as the progressive taking seriously of spheres of human experience that were previously ignored as infra dignitate.  Economics treats of the buying and selling of goods in the marketplace, a banausic activity that no gentleman would contemplate.  Anthropology began when the practices of South Sea Islanders were accorded the respect previously reserved for the amusements of lords and ladies, and graced with the epithet “culture.”  Durkheim launched Sociology with a detailed analysis of the phenomenon of suicide.  Freud created an entire medical specialty out of such detritus of human experience as dreams, jokes, and slips of the tongue.  And modern literary critics, weary of their endless contemplation of Greek tragedy and Romantic poetry, turned their attention first to that middle class amusement, the novel, then to movies, which were rechristened “films,” and finally even to such ephemera as television and comic books.

I have always admired this ability to – as my old friend Esther Terry would say – make chicken salad from chicken shit, but alas, I lack the gift.  Thus it is that the endless contemplation of the Trump presidency, rather than inspiring me to flights of creative imagination, has had the effect of making me stupid.


In an effort to recapture the life of the mind, I have decided to offer a short series of lectures on The Thought of Sigmund Freud, to be delivered – if they agree – at UNC and preserved for eternity on YouTube.  The arrangements are still being explored, but my hope is to record the lectures in March and April.  Later in this sesquicentennial year, I plan to mount a more extended series on The Thought of Karl Marx.

MY FIFTEEN MINUTES OF FAME

This is, without a doubt, the biggest moment of my life.  A grad student at UNC tells me that about a month ago my Kant lectures were advertised in an online comic book!!!  Here is a link to the site.  This way beats getting a favorable review in a journal nobody reads, or being footnoted in a thick obscure book.  Now if I could only keep time, I could take a musical act on the road.

When I was a boy, Looney Tunes was pretty much my speed.  And they say there has been no progress since the invention of the mechanical spinning jenny.

Monday, February 20, 2017

A PLEA TO MY READERS

On a normal day, this blog gets between 1500 and 3000 visits.  As near as I can tell, something like 5000 or so people world-wide follow the blog.  But only several dozen people comment with any regularity.  That, I gather, is normal for the blogosphere.  I would imagine that virtually all of my readers are anti-Trump, and that a majority, but by no means all, fall on the left side of the political spectrum.

I have been talking for several weeks now about the importance of winning House seats and state legislative and gubernatorial seats all across America.  The contest that has been mentioned on this blog a number of times is the by-election in April for the 6th Georgia House seat, with Jon Ossoff as the Democratic candidate, but there are important elections this year in Virginia and New Jersey and a good many other places.

Here is my plea:  Don't comment on the blog if that is your preference, but please, please, get involved locally if you happen to live in a state or district that has an election this year.  Give money, volunteer, make calls, ring doorbells, talk to friends, go to Town Halls, participate in demonstrations. whatever you find comfortable and, as they say in the trade, ego-syntonic, but DO SOMETHING.


Sunday, February 19, 2017

TRYING TO GET MY BEARINGS

The daily flood of outrages, leaks, performance theater, and sheer evil emanating from the Trump White House can be so distracting that it is easy to get caught up in the news cycle and lose sight of what is important.

Let me suggest two things we keep our eyes one, two of many deserving our attention.  The first is the apparent intention of the Administration to begin greatly expanded assaults on undocumented residents.  Unfortunately the law is on Trump's side, but wherever and whenever we can, we need to shield those being targeted and try to create safe spaces where they can hide from the ICE [The US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service.]  America has a long tradition of this sort of thing, reaching back way before the internment of Japanese-Americans to the slave patrols, or "paterolers," who went into the woods after runaway slaves.  There is no need to reference Nazi Germany.  This is as American as apple pie, and we need to fight it.

The second thing is by-elections and off-year elections wherever they crop up.  Like many of you, I have donated to the campaign of Jon Ossoff to take Georgia's Sixth House District on April 18th.  There are other races coming up this year, and every one of them is vitally important.  Fantasies about Trump leaving the White House are enticing, but the real struggle is to seize as much power as we can from the Republican Party.  Despite regional concentration, gerrymandering, and voter suppression, there are enough of us to take back at least a part of the government, if we can just get our people to the polls.

Meanwhile, I have devoted two days to doing my taxes, and I am almost done.  I am simply thrilled that my pittance will be put to such good use by the government!