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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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, October 17, 2011

REQUIESCAT IN PACE

Last night, an old and very dear friend, Robert Ackermann, passed away after a brief bout with cancer. Readers of my Autobiography will know how important he was to me during my long and difficult tenure in the Philosophy Department of the University of Massachusetts. Bob leaves his lovely wife, Inge, to whom he had been married for many, many years, and three children -- Robert, Carl, and Ilse.

Bob was a force of nature, a brilliant, multi--talented man whose scholarly work spanned Ancient Philosophy, Logic, the Philosophy of Science, Nietzsche, and much else. There was a period of many years in my life when I spoke to Bob every single day, even when he was away for a semester in Scandinavia. I learned from him constantly, and shamelessly plagiarized his ideas when I wrote a Philosophy textbook. In the doctoral program that we created and ran for a while at UMass as an alternative to the standard program, Bob was the central figure. Students gravitated to him, worked with him, learned from him, and wrote their doctoral dissertations under his direction.

Bob was also a professional jazz pianist who performed frequently in such venues as could be found in Western Massachusetts. I think it must have been a surprise for patrons of a lounge or bar to discover that the big man hunched over the keys playing standards and little known tunes was also a distinguished philosopher.

Bob was a cheerful, ebullient man with a mordant, ironic sense of humor. It is not an exaggeration to say that his presence in the Philosophy Department kept me sane during some very dark times. He will be sorely missed by a great many people, and was loved by many, including myself.

Requiescat in pace, Bob.

9 comments:

Marinus said...

I'm sorry to hear of your loss.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Thank you Marinus. I am not by nature a person who makes friends easily, and Bob was for many years central to my life.

NotHobbes said...

So sorry to hear of your loss.

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

It has been an honor to have had his signature on my dissertation. I admired the way that he resisted smallness of mind in those who were deluded by a completely false sense of depth and importance. Long live Bob!

Thadddeus said...

My memories of Bob are as vivid as he was. I'm sorry for your loss, and I'll always remember his humor humanity, honesty and generosity.

Don Schneier said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Don Schneier said...

Bob--Phil Cox and I got together today and reminisced about Bob, and about the heady days of the Alternate Track. We agreed regretting missing an opportunity to let Bob know how much we appreciated his support and guidance over the years. So, while I can, thank you for the same from you.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Don, good to hear from you. There is a lot I regret about these past few years and Bob. I am very grateful that I got to say some of what I felt at his retirement party.

Those were good years.

Allen Hazen said...

Just saw this (I don't read your blog as regularly as I would probably enjoy!). I never met Ackermann, but i respected him. I think his little (long out of print?) book on Many Valued logic would still, if it were available, be the first thing to recommend to a student who wanted to know what many-valued logic was.