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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

POETIC INTERLUDE

On Thursday, I shall give the third in a series of eight lectures on the Thought of Karl Marx, at the Osher Lifelong Leraning Institute at Duke University. The reading for that day is the first fifteen pages of the COMMUNIST MANIFESTO, the great tract penned by Marx in 1848. In an attempt to capture for my students something of the feeling that Marx must have experienced at that time, when faced, at the age of thirty, with the prospect of a thoroughoing political and economic upheaval in Germany, I plan to read to the class the poem that William Wordsworth wrote in 1805, recalling his feelings and those of his compatriots at the news of the French Revolution. Here is the entire text of the poem:

OH! pleasant exercise of hope and joy!

For mighty were the auxiliars which then stood

Upon our side, we who were strong in love!

Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,

But to be young was very heaven!--Oh! times,

In which the meagre, stale, forbidding ways

Of custom, law, and statute, took at once

The attraction of a country in romance!

When Reason seemed the most to assert her rights,

When most intent on making of herself 10

A prime Enchantress--to assist the work,

Which then was going forward in her name!

Not favoured spots alone, but the whole earth,

The beauty wore of promise, that which sets

(As at some moment might not be unfelt

Among the bowers of paradise itself)

The budding rose above the rose full blown.

What temper at the prospect did not wake

To happiness unthought of? The inert

Were roused, and lively natures rapt away! 20

They who had fed their childhood upon dreams,

The playfellows of fancy, who had made

All powers of swiftness, subtilty, and strength

Their ministers,--who in lordly wise had stirred

Among the grandest objects of the sense,

And dealt with whatsoever they found there

As if they had within some lurking right

To wield it;--they, too, who, of gentle mood,

Had watched all gentle motions, and to these

Had fitted their own thoughts, schemers more mild, 30

And in the region of their peaceful selves;--

Now was it that both found, the meek and lofty

Did both find, helpers to their heart's desire,

And stuff at hand, plastic as they could wish;

Were called upon to exercise their skill,

Not in Utopia, subterranean fields,

Or some secreted island, Heaven knows where!

But in the very world, which is the world

Of all of us,--the place where in the end

We find our happiness, or not at all! 40

1805.

The fourth and fifth lines are immortal. Would that my sons could feel that bliss just once!


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