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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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




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Monday, December 5, 2016

INVINCIBLY IGNORANT

It is said that when the wife of the great logician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead went to her priest, concerned by her husband's lack of faith, the priest comforted her with a category the Church keeps ready for such cases, saying, "It is all right, Mrs. Whitehead, your husband is invincibly ignorant."

My practise for some years has been to prepare my lunch [no-fat cottage cheese, no-fat yogurt, some sugar, and grapes] and sit on my bed, watching MSNBC as I eat.  Since the election, I have found watching the television news intolerable, so today I switched around with the remote until I came on a Joseph Fiennes 2016 movie, Risen, about a Roman centurion tasked with locating the body of a crucified preacher to quell potentially dangerous rumors that he is the risen Messiah.

After I had finished my lunch, it occurred to me that it had been a very long time since I had read the accounts in the New Testament of the days after the Crucifixion, so I took out my King James Bible and re-read the last chapters of each of the four Gospels.

As I read the familiar stories, my eyes involuntarily filled with tears.  I was deeply -- and, considering that I am an atheist, somewhat mysteriously -- moved.

The late Sidney Morgenbesser, in great pain during his last weeks, is reported to have asked, "Why is God tormenting me this way?  Do you suppose it is because I do not believe in Him?"

Sidney was on to something.

PROGRESS REPORT, SO TO SPEAK

About a dozen people have emailed me at my new gmail address to say they want to be part of an organizing effort.  Tom Cathcart has put me in touch with a techie and we will probably talk this evening [he wanted to skype, but that is a rung or two above my pay grade so I suggested we talk by phone.]  This is going slowly, but then, it is still a month and a half until the Inauguration!

When I get something worked out and operable, I will put out a general appeal for people to sign in and start getting their friends and neighbors to sign in [does anyone actually have neighbors any more?]

So, just in case you were wondering, that is where things stand.  Meanwhile, I am working my way through a book of hard NY TIMES crossword puzzles I bought in an airport several weeks ago.  I am up to #54.

MORE ON THE NC GOVERNORSHIP

This is strange.  I told you all my little story about driving to the Durham County Board of Elections headquarters on Saturday, only to be told that there were so many volunteers I wasn't needed for the recount. Now the Raleigh News and Observer, the local paper, says that all of those ballot counters were hired hands!  It even says how much it cost for them to do the job [which will be done well before the 7 pm deadline tonight.]  The only way I can square the two stories is to assume that what was actually needed was volunteers ready to do the work for pay.

Sigh.  Some days, it is really, really hard to be a good guy.

WORSE THAN I THOUGHT [IS THAT POSSIBLE?]

This story in the Washington Post is very troubling.  It seems the call with Taiwan wasn't a blunder but a deliberate and carefully planned move by the hard-right types pulling Trump's strings.  Those folks are smart, knowledgeable, and genuinely dangerous.  Their view, I suspect, is that America won the Cold War and now should be the world hegemon.  If you think current US foreign policy is bad [as I do], what is coming down the pike is horrifying.  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

WORTH READING

There has been a good deal of discussion, coming both from the left and from the right, about the need to move past what is called Identity Politics, discussion to which I have on occasion contributed on this blog.  Here is a heartfelt and well-written discussion of the question in the form of a family history of the author, going back to slavery times.  The message of the piece is a simple one:  Turning away from Identity Politics is a luxury that White people can afford but that people of color cannot afford.  It is a luxury that men can afford but that women cannot afford.  It is a luxury that  straight people can afford but that LGBT people cannot afford.

It would be worth your time to read it, I believe.

THE OLD PHILOSOPHER TRIES AND FAILS TO STRIKE A BLOW FOR FREEDOM

When I got up this morning, I found a message from a friend with whom I canvassed door to door the week before the election.  He told me there was a critical need for volunteers to help recount 90,000 ballots in Durham County by 7 pm tomorrow evening in order to stop the Republican from stealing Roy Cooper's victory over Republican governor Pat McCrory.  It is a complicated story, but the short of it is that if the ballots are not all counted by 7 pm tomorrow, the election can be thrown into the State Legislature and stolen.  Cooper currently leads by more than 10,000 votes and his lead is growing as the last ballots are counted.

So I kissed my wife goodbye, jumped into my car, and raced down to 210 North Roxboro Street where the Durham County Board of Elections is situated.  The first sign that something was wrong was the sizeable parking lot next to the building, which was totally full.  I parked across the street, walked over, and entered the building.

I presented myself to the nice lady behind the reception table, feeling extremely virtuous and civic-minded, and said I was there as a volunteer to help count the ballots.  At that point the woman in charge of the recount walked by and said they had so many volunteers there was no more room.  She gave me her number and said to call back at noon, but I know a rejection when I get one.  Oh, I'll call, but pretty obviously I was just another Johnny-Come-Lately.  Apparently the line to volunteer started forming at 7 am, even though the building did not open until 9.

Who knows?  Maybe I won't have to live into my nineties to see some signs of progress.

Saturday, December 3, 2016

BALM FOR THE SOUL

A reader sent me this link.  It won't mean much to my younger readers, but the oldsters like me will tear up as we listen to it.  This is a time when we need to recall our better angels.