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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Saturday, September 3, 2011

THE PHILOSOPHY OF HUME -- A PROBLEM

As I anticipated, I have arrived at a problem that I am not sure how to solve. The next several posts of this tutorial are intended to explain and expound the central doctrines of Book I, Parts III [causation] and IV [our belief in the continued and independent existence of objects.] Half a century and more, I published an essay in which I discussed these matters, and all this time later, I do not think I can do it any better than I did there. The essay, "Hume's Theory of Mental Activity," is posted on box.net, where, at this point, it has been previewed or downloaded seventy-eight times. I really do not want to try to re-write what I wrote successfully [or so I believe] in 1960, so the natural solution is to insert lengthy excerpts from the essay in this tutorial. But that will be terminally boring to those faithful readers who have in fact followed my exhortations and looked at the 1960 essay.

Meanwhile, Susie and I are preparing to go to Paris on Tuesday, so I am engaged with last-minute preparations. What to do?

I think I will take a break at this point, meditate on my options, and return to the tutorial once I have arrived in Paris. In the interim, I may post a comment or two on the passing scene, but think of this as a Labor Day suspension of classes.

6 comments:

Marinus said...

I think it's safe to say that many readers of this blog haven't read that paper. That is to say, I haven't read it (largely because my Wolff quota is still being taken up by 'Kant's Theory of Mental Activity). A selection of what you take to be the choice bits can be very helpful, even to people who have read it - in the intervening years I'm sure you have built up a considered opinion about which parts of the paper are the important ones. This should help against the worry you raise about reading Hume, where it's easy to breeze past the most important moves unless you already know what to look for.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I am persuaded. Maybe I will continue tomorrow, but if not, I will certainly be hard at it from Paris, where there is nothing much to do. :)

Actually, my biggest challenge is to get a France TeleCom technician to come to the apartment and sort out the internet access for my renters. France TeleCom makes Time Warner Cable look like Apple!

Michael said...

Nothing much to do in Paris...sounds like a rough way to live :)

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Not a bit of it. I have to go to the open air market and shop for dinner. I have to sit in the cafe. I have to visit Notre Dame at the end of the street. And there is a new restaurant I just heard about that I have to check out. It is very strenuous.

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

I agree with Marinus. Even if you give only an overview of your paper, the distillation itself is valuable. It helps to know what aspects of Hume you want to highlight. For instance, you remind us of the positive basis beneath Hume's commonly noted skepticism: his thorough emphasis upon the epistemic primacy of the particular, and equivalent emphasis on the physical as the valid object of experience.

I love the way you thumbnail these philosophers. At risk of a painful pun: you always hit the thumbnail on the head.