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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Saturday, September 12, 2009

AN ETHICO-POLITICAL DILEMMA

I am sitting in my Paris apartment at six p.m. on a lazy Saturday afternoon, waiting to go around the corner with Susie to Le Reminet, one of our favorite restaurants, which features a new chef whom we must check out. I am listening to one of my all time favorite CDs, with Kathleen Battle and Wynton Marsalis doing a number of baroque arias for soprano and trumpet. This is perfect music. If God has His head screwed on right, it is what you hear when St. Peter admits you to Heaven.

Seven years ago, Battle was sacked by the Met for "unprofessional conduct." Her career tanked, and she dropped from view. Now, let us stipulate that she was acting like -- a diva, a prima donna, a horse's ass. She apparently imperiously dismissed an Assistant Manager from the set, for something or other, and that wasn't all of it.

Here is the question: Morally speaking, she deserved to be fired for making the lives of her fellow artists and associated personnel miserable. BUT: The Met exists to produce beautiful music. There is no other excuse for it. A well-run, employee-friendly Opera House putting on mediocre productions with off-key singing and out of tune instrumentalists might well be a worker's paradise, but it would be an utter waste of social resources. Nobody has ever questioned that when Battle opened her mouth, out came sheer beauty.

So, should an exception be made to the norms of decent human behavior for great artists? My socialist genes, inherited from my father's father [apparently not in mitochondrial dna] say NO. But my aesthetic sensibility says, well, maybe.

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