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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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

Thursday, January 20, 2011

JUST CHECKING

At this point in my tutorial on the thought of Karl Marx, I am due to start talking about Marx's economic theories. This is an enormous subject [he wrote about 5000 pages on economics, all of which I have read]. I have written two books about it, and I can promise you that once I start, it is going to take many more posts even to skate over the surface in a systemtic fashion. This tutorial is now 7000 words long, so before I launch into the economic theories of Karl Marx, I would like to know whether anyone out there really wants me to go on. I am willing, despite teaching two courses and all, but let me know.

While I have your attention, here is an odd fact. I just discovered that the state of North Carolina, to save money, is not sending out tax return packets this year. We must either download the forms or go to some obscure office somewhere to pick them up. Now, am I the only one who thinks that the money they save this way is only a fraction of the money they will lose from people who fail to file? I mean, if these were American Idol ballots, I could see it.

18 comments:

Chris said...

You have my attention to keep going on.

I did have a question regarding Marx's numbers of economic text. It's a bit of a historical question and I hope I can ask it coherently.

I know Marx wanted to write roughly 7 volumes of On Capital. I forget the list of what he wanted to cover, but production (Volume I) was only one of 7 books he had in mind. I also know he kept delaying the publication of Volume I for over a decade, constantly demanding more time, and never living up to his publishers request. So my question is, if he had 7 volumes in mind, only produced 1, and the II-III are actually Engels editing, plus he had several thousand pages on surplus value (where these supposed to be volumes IV-VII?), what exactly was the problem here? He seems to have thousands of pages already written, if Engels and others could collaborate these later books, so why wasn't Marx publishing them? Furthermore, if Engels did have to piece these together, is there any idea just how close volume II-III are to what Marx intended? Is the piecing together helter-skelter, or does it form a coherent whole book? I'm confused at how Marx had such grand publishing plans, thousands of pages of written text, and yet only ONE book on Capital. Any elucidation to this sordid affair would be more than deeply appreciated.

Thank you.

J.Vlasits said...

My attention as well.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Chris, I do not know about seven volumes, but he clearly intended the work to be in four volumes, the fourth of which is what eventually became the three volumes on Theories of Surplus Value, so that is six.

My understanding is that all the materials were written before his death, and in pretty much the form in which we have them now.

Marx's dilatoriness was legendary. Indeed, many of the disapatches published under his name in the New York Herald were actually written by Engels, because Marx failed to meet the newspaper deadline. There are some amusing passages in the letters about Marx's resistance to letting the book go to the publisher.

Of one thing I am certain: What we have is just what Marx intended us to have. There is no secret unpublished doctrine known only to the elite and anointed. What you see is what you get.

By the way, when I speak airily of 5000 pages, I am including the Grundrisse, the Introduction to the Critique of Political Economy, Value Price and Profit, and the like. It may actually be more than 5000 pages.

David Pilavin said...

please continue!

Ernesto said...

Please, do go on!

Chris said...

Whoops 6 volumes, here's a reference to it in the Grudrisse:
http://books.google.com/books?id=bDyemaqiZjUC&pg=PA54&lpg=PA54&dq=Karl+marx+on+capital+six+volumes&source=bl&ots=wIFLzsIXOZ&sig=iTqYOEeIbqwEK86N2jXKBbJYpXA&hl=en&ei=9IA4TZujDoXLgQeg-PnXCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=6&ved=0CDwQ6AEwBTgK#v=onepage&q&f=false

Vanishing Furniture said...

I would love to know more about his economic theories. Please continue in this direction.

I was curious, are you familiar with To the Finland Station by Edmund Wilson? Do you have an opinion of it? I'm half way through and find the book compliments your tutorial well.

Please know that your hard work is read and greatly appreciated.

Socrates43 said...

Please continue. What you have said so far is very helpful.

Disgruntled Goat said...

Yes! Please go on.

Jake said...

I'm with the others. Please do continue!

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Vanishing furniture?! Yes, the Wilson book is first rate, and very helpful in placing Marx in his historical context. I read it manyu years ago and enjoyed it enormously.

Chris said...

Probably some kind of esoteric reference to Berkley...haha

Daniel said...

I have enjoyed the tutorial on Marx so far, and cannot wait for the primer on economics. Every day I am eagerly awaiting the next installment so please go on.

Thank you.

English Jerk said...

Carry on!

Jim said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim said...

Carry on, but don't joke about American Idol ballots!!!!!!!!!!!

J.D.K. Goodman said...

Professor Wolff: I'm interested in your writings about Marx's economic theory. Please continue.

Thanks.

Ian J. Seda Irizarry said...

The calculation miht be a bit off given that there are two other sets of notebooks which apart from the Grundrisse make up the three drafts of Capital. If Roman Rosdolsky is acclaimed to be one of the most important scholars with regards to analyzing the relation between thr Grundrisse and the published draft of Capital, then Enrique Dussel certainly deserves to be there given that he read all of teh drafts and did what he calls "an archeological reading". In other words, he focuses on the development and evolution of Marx's work. Dussel actually claims that at some point Marx had the draft of the three known volumes of Capital in front of him at some date (can't remember when). Check in the journal Rethinking Marxism. I don't remember the exact reference but they translated to english and republished one of Dussel's articles. Apart from that he has written like 5 books on the subject, all available in his website (i'm not sure if all of them are available in enlgish also). Two things that I do remember from the article (and from having the pleasure of hearing Dussel in a talk) and which are not necessarily original but give a taste as to how he thinks, are that the base/superstructure metaphor is completely foreign to Marx's method and that Althusser's division between the idealist and scientific,the young vs the mature Marx in terms of the role of Hegel is simply wrong. Hegel is all over the Grundrisse for example so this notion of "epistemological break" is problematic as a plausible explanation on the basis of Marx's own writing process.