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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Sunday, September 27, 2009

IT IS BETTER TO LIGHT A CANDLE THAN TO CURSE THE DARKNESS

On Friday, I posted a somewhat self-pitying message, tricked out in academic references to C. P. Snow, about my inability, during my long career, to find students who share my desire to unite the insights and methods of mathematics and logic with those of literary criticism, history, philosophy, and other "soft" disciplines. Yesterday, it occurred to me that self-pity is not a terribly attractive personality trait, even in a septuagenarian, so I decided to have another go.

I have always thought that the ideal teaching situation would be to gather a group of dedicated students who were seriously interested in learning, and then to conduct a seminar completely free of the extraneous irrelevances of university education: No entrance requirements, no tuition or other fees, no grades, no credits to earn and enter on a permanent record, no degrees awarded. Just me and the students, engaging with hard, exciting, deep ideas. Now that I am retired, there is no reason why I cannot do just that. All I need is students and a place to meet.

I think [it is not yet certain] that the UNC Philosophy Department will graciously allow me to use one of their seminar rooms, once a week, at a time when a regular seminar is not scheduled there. Now I must figure out how to put the word out in the Triangle community [Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh, the Research Triangle, and associated towns and villages]. Then we shall see whether there are eight to fifteen people who want to study Marx's economic, historical, political, sociological, philosophical, anthropological, and psychological ideas with a depth and precision and integration that has not before, to my knowledge, been achieved.

Since the series of meetings -- probably twelve or so in all -- will cost nothing and confer no benefit on the participants save knowledge and understanding, I will feel free to make any demands I wish, however onerous. Anyone who does not want to work that hard will just drop out. I will ask them to read all of CAPITAL, Volume I, the MANIFESTO, portions of the ECONOMIC-PHILOSOPHIC MANUSCRIPTS OF 1844 and THE GERMAN IDEOLOGY, and my two books on Marx -- UNDERSTANDING MARX and MONEYBAGS MUST BE SO LUCKY, and other things in addition.

Well, twelve weeks may not do it.

I will expect them, at the very least, to feel comfortable with high school algebra -- I am not crazy, so I will not require Linear Algebra and Differential Calculus, even though those are both standard undergraduate subjects for students who pursue a science/mathematics track.

The course will be open to persons of any age, regardless of their educational credentials or lack of same. There will, needless to say, be not a whiff of ideological correctness. The students will not have to like Marx [that is actually rather hard to do] or agree with him -- or with me. All that is necessary is that they want to understand Marx, as richly and complexly as possible.

We shall see.

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