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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Thursday, May 17, 2012

IDLETHOUGHTS WHILE WAITING FOR AN EYE DOCTOR APPOINTMENT

There really is no limit to the wonderment of the web.  As I was walking home from my morning coffee, muffin, and NY TIMES crossword puzzle [more than usually challenging for a Thursday], I recalled having read somewhere that every state in the Union has a Springfield.  When I sat down at my computer, I went to Google and started typing in "does every state have a" at which point the word "Springfield" popped up, along with several sites claiming that in fact only thirty-five do.  I have no idea whether that is the correct answer.  What astonishes me is that it took only five seconds or less to get a raft of answers.  It is simply impossible to explain to young people what a revolution this is.  I think I can begin to sympathize with monks who, having spent a lifetime painstakingly copying Aristotle or Tertullian, got wind of someone named Gutenberg.

This is probably only of interest to a few of you, but the Euro is sinking fast against the dollar.  Several weeks ago it was in the low to middle 130's [i.e., one Euro costing $1.34 or $1.35.]  This morning it has fallen to $1.26, quite obviously a response to the Greek economic crisis.  I have mixed feelings about this personally.  On the one hand, the value of my apartment in Paris is declining [a year or more ago the Euro was at $1.50 and I was in the full fever of what economists call "the wealth effect."]  On the other hand, I have no intention of selling my apartment, and things like a restaurant meal or a trip to the market will, in dollar terms, be cheaper for me.  This is what might be called a worm's eye view of international finance.

If I ever become insanely rich, I plan to endow some scholarships for talented early music performers, the program to be overseen by Paul O'Dette.  For those who do not know, O'Dette is the world's greatest lutenist, a god in the Early Music world.  I have heard him perform in person several times, and it was a revelation, especially when he played the Archlute.  I think I have commented before on the fact that, against all odds, the standard of early music performance in Western Massachusetts is significantly higher than that in Paris.

Leaving to one side trolls and ad-purveyors, the comments to this blog continue to delight.  My joke about the stops on the New York City subway system not only drew an equally amusing trick puzzle from the distinguished philosopher Gerald Dworkin but also, just today, a link offered by M to a fascinating little article about the mathematical structure of subway systems around the world.  For someone like me who is by temperament and ideology a collectivist or communitarian anarchist, this evidence of the power of cooperative exchange is exhilarating.

I continue to believe that President Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage is having a transformative effect on the public discourse in this country.  My son, law professor Tobias Barrington Wolff, did a one hour interview on NPR a day or two ago in which he spoke of the importance of the president's "bully pulpit" [a term coined by President Theodore Roosevelt, of course.]  Which puts me in mind of the great movie of the play Arsenic and Old Lace, but that is another matter entirely.  [If it is not already quite obvious, I suffer from an advanced case of what could be called Shandyism, after Tristram Shandy -- i.e. an irrepressible tendency to digress.]

Well, it is time for my eye exam.  This is a follow-up.  At the initial exam, as the eye doctor kept flipping the lenses back and forth and asking me, "Is it better with One or Two?" I gave such inconsistent answers that he told me to go home, rest my eyes, and come back.  I mean, can you fail an eye exam?

8 comments:

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

Re: The mathematics of subway stops

Check this out:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-18072627

Maybe 79 is the "right" answer after all?

Jerry Fresia said...

Your strength (at least one big one), was and always will be, humor.

Jerry Fresia said...

Your strength (at least one big one), was and always will be, humor.

P. J. Grath said...

I'm pretty sure there is a Springfield, Massachusetts (though I'm not doing an online search to verify the statement), but I always thought those eye exams were full of trick questions. Are you a MOBILE BLOGGER? Are you THAT MODERN?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

There is certainly a Springfield, MA, as well as a Springfield, Illinois, along with many others. I am certainly not a mobile blogger. I have the world's oldets and simplest cell phone.

Superfluous Man said...

Springfield South Carolina is the home of the annual contest and street festival known as the Springfield Frog Jump. Not the Mark Twain one but something along those lines.

http://springfieldsc.com/frogjump.html

Homer Simpson might also have something to say about another purportedly faux Springfield, where the infamous "Rupert" radioactive nuclear plant is said to be located. Although I am quite sure that Rupert's radioactivity extends far beyond the imaginary environs of Springfield.

the pied cow blog said...

I largely disagree with your assertion that "President Obama's endorsement of same-sex marriage is having a transformative effect on the public discourse in this country."

While there is no doubt that gender preference is now among the legitimate subjects of pontification by the punditocracy, one's gender preference has infinitesimally little bearing on the only substantive issue in politics, i.e., how power in society is distributed among the population.

We can talk about gender preference until the cows come home, but it won't matter a hill of beans to the captains of the military-industrial complex.

Lovena said...

What do you mean by a communitarian anarchist? Please reply: lovena@tortillawheel.com