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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Monday, July 4, 2011

BOOK REPORT

From time to time, my big sister, Barbara [Dr. Barbara Searle], makes reading recommendations to me. She is a demon reader, and regularly teaches courses on contemporary developments in molecular and evolutionary biology in the Washington, D. C. branch of the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. [Barbara ended her long career as the Ombud of the World Bank, but back in the day, she took a doctorate in Biology at Harvard].

Her latest suggestion, which I am now reading, is Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life, by Nick Lane. This, despite the jazzy title, is a dense, ferociously serious and detailed account of the most recent developments in biologists' efforts to understand the origins and development of cellular life [Eukaryotic life, for those who are technically inclined.] It would be absurd for me even to attempt the most general summary of the themes of the book, but there is one observation I would like to make about what I am learning.

As a consequence of half a century of brilliant, painstaking research, biologists now understand what goes in in living things right down to the molecular level. The difference between what they now know and what I learned as a student sixty years ago is so vast that it dwarfs recent developments in fields like physics. Lane is the author of a number of books [one of which I have in fact also read], and if you have the patience for it, it would be well worth your time and effort to spend some time with one of them.

3 comments:

Debbylee said...

Going to the library to get that book! Always like a good tip on an alternative read to get one's brain ticking over. Thanks for sharing....and very impressive resume of your big sister.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

As I said in my autobiography, she was a tough act to follow!

Debbylee said...

I believe you have done a great job! You have inspired me anew 30+ years after my graduation and I am so grateful....the world wide web is a wonderful thing.