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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Friday, July 22, 2011

HEAVY LIFTING

It turns out that writing an introduction to Kant's First Critique is a good deal harder than talking about Game Theory or Marxian economics or Freudian theory, even if you have been thinking about Kant for the past sixty years. Who would have thought?

2 comments:

Michael said...

Maybe it's because you've been thinking about Kant for sixty years that you've got so much more to try to consolidate.
Not that this is a bad thing, by any means.

Demo said...

I find that the trouble with writing on Kant is always having too much to say, since the critical philosophy is (supposed to be) extravagantly coherent. One begins talking about the nature of a categorical imperative and suddenly finds oneself staking out interpretive positions on Kant's modal theory and the distinction between things in themselves and appearances. Even with close readings of his major works behind me, in my research on Kant's philosophy I feel like a worm attempting cartography - such is the scale of it all... My point is to say thanks very much for this, I find it a helpful new beginning. A year-long seminar I just finished on the first critique began to pick up the sticks in a common way, with a focus on the question as to the possibility of synthetic a priori knowledge, but I think the alternative of reading one's way out of the historical context and out of the dialectic (which seems to be where you're heading so far) promises a number of advantages, especially for beginners. For I expect it will allow us to see at every turn many of the considerations that motivated Kant, and that the windfalls will come quickly; it may demand less patience. I'm grateful for the notes on the development of Kant's philosophy and on the ID, which I haven't gotten around to reading yet. I also appreciate your early emphasis on the distinction between active and passive activities of the mind*... it seems to me that a misunderstanding of the basic distinction between practical and theoretical reason spoils a number of attempts to make sense of the Faktum-Lehre. I would be grateful if you would say a few more words about the historical background of this distinction (my own knowledge of medieval philosophy is thin), and about where Kant might have come across it. In my ignorance, I tend to see Kant reacting to a number of medieval authors whom he probably never read - reading Ockham, for example, I thoguht I could hear a main, tacit voice of the dialog in the first critique, I even found specific points that receive specific responses, only to learn that Kant's knowledge of Ockham was second-hand at best, and that my observations were perhaps only evidence of the care with which a series of philosophers marked the works of their predecessors.

*btw. I haven't had a chance yet to read your work on Kant's theory of mental activity, and so I'm excited to see where just you're going with this use of "mind". I've just begun to venture in a serious way beyond the horizons of the last twenty years of Kant research, and I've found the experience very rewarding so far (particularly for Paul Dietrichson's insights into Kant's practical philosophy). I hope this series is a chance to get my feet wet before diving into your works and others from not so long ago. Thanks again - sure beats the Suddeutsche Zeitung as lunchtime reading!