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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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

Monday, August 2, 2010

THE RETURN OF THE SNARK

Whew! Who would have thought it would take eight hundred pages to tell the story of my life? Now that I am done, I want to go back to commenting on the passing scene, but first I need to say just a bit about the experience of reliving my life before a live audience [a bit like The Truman Show, starring Jim Carrey]. I learned some things about myself along the way, of course. One of them may surprise you. I have always thought of myself as something of a slacker. I mean, mostly, I daydream and play endless games of Spider Solitaire and FreeCell on my computer [I maintain a 77% win average in Spider, making full use of the undo function, and a 96% win rate in FreeCell without using the undo. That takes a lot of practice.] I watch an hour of The Young and the Restless five days a week, and all the reruns of NCIS I can find. So it came as a bit of a shock to discover how much I have actually done in my life. I think this simply shows that if you live to be seventy-six, it is hard to avoid doing something.

I have been delighted and astonished and moved by the warmth and generosity of your responses, both in on-line comments and in email messages. To misquote Sally Fields, you like me, you really like me. Who would have thought that an old balding philosopher with a facial tic could make so many friends on the web? Maybe this online dating thing has a future.

While I have been madly writing and posting, writing and posting, the world has been going to hell in a handbag. Rightwingers have reached levels of sheer nuttiness that are beyond the powers even of a Jonathan Swift to satirize. I have a good deal of snark pent up in me, and if I do not unload some of it, I fear that it will do permanent damage to my nervous system. Starting tomorrow, I will try to catch up.
However, today is a day for rejoicing and bragging, so here goes.

I have just received word that the University of the Western Cape in South Africa has decided to confer on me the degree of Doctor of Letters, honoris causa. This honor comes to me in recognition of my efforts over two decades to help young Black South Africans to get a university education, so it really belongs to all the people who have donated to USSAS over the years, and to the folks in South Africa who have selected the students and mentored them, and to Susie, who has folded and stuffed endless envelopes with me. Next March, Susie and I will be the guests of the University at their annual commencement ceremonies. As it happens, this coincides with Archbishop Tutu's last appearance as the Honorary Chancellor of the University, and as close readers of my Memoir will recall, he is the Honorary Chair of the Advisory Committee of University Scholarships for South African Students, although I am sure he does not recall that fact. I am thrilled, needless to say. I shall carry to South Africa my silk Harvard doctoral robes, a present from my parents in 1957, and shall have a chance to say a few words at the Commencement ceremonies. [Wisely and somewhat cautiously, they indicated that I would have "three to five minutes" to speak.]

So, as Kim Leighton suggested in an email, I am now to be addressed as Doctor Doctor Wolff [rather like Major Major Major Major in Catch-22. ]

3 comments:

Todd Gitlin said...

Bob, I remember visiting you in 1961, when I was taking your course on the loyalty problem and Marxism, only to hear that Harvard had "declined to pick up my option." I think I had only the most shadowy idea of what tenure was, so this was a shock.

This comes to mind as I read that the University of the Western Cape has picked up your option. How splendid!

Your memoir has been a faithful companion lo these months, and I intend to keep up with the stones you throw, toss, and rub.

gwern said...

> I think this simply shows that if you live to be seventy-six, it is hard to avoid doing something.

Gosh, you've made me feel a lot better.

Anyway, I hope you keep writing, even if you aren't going to do any more 'hard' series like the game theory blog.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Thanks, Todd. At the time, I was, of course, devastated, but in retrospect, I realize it was a blessing. I think, had Harvard kept me, my Memoir would have been five hundred pages shorter!!