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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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, May 11, 2012

THE UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS OF BLOGGING

One of the odd things about being an author of a certain age is that stuff you wrote so long ago that you can scarcely recall it is fresh and new to someone just now reading it.  I often wonder what it would have been like to be J. D. Salinger or Joseph Heller, both of whom published breakout successful novels as young men -- Salinger at thirty-two, Heller at thirty-eight -- and then lived long afterward.  Salinger famously lived fifty-nine years after Catcher in the Rye was published.  Did he ever re-read the novel, just to remind himself of what he had written?

When I started blogging, I thought of what I was posting as ephemeral.  I mean, who reads old blogs?  But the Google blogging app that I use keeps all the old posts right up there, readily accessible.  Sure enough, every so often a comment pops up in the right hand column that is a reaction to an old blog post, sometimes a very old blog post.  Just yesterday, someone with the web handle "bf" made some interesting comments on a portion of my Autobiography that I posted two years ago.  I had to go back and re-read it to remind myself what I had said.

Even more disorienting, from my standpoint, are the frequent comments I get about In Defense of Anarchism, which I wrote forty-seven years ago and published forty-two years ago.  Not only has the world changed dramatically in those four decades;  so have I.  Now, I think of myself as a kindly, supportive grandfather taking one last lap around the track before hanging up my running shoes.  Then, I was a feisty young man out to challenge the world.  It is not a matter of changing my mind -- I still think the argument of that little book is completely valid.  It is more a matter of finding myself at a very different place in the life cycle.

Do you suppose that Plato, as he closed in on eighty, would be accosted from time to time by some young Greek wanting to talk to him about the Crito?  Did anyone ever quiz the aging Bishop Berkeley on the arguments in his Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, published when he was twenty-five?  [Berkeley, by the way, was born in the same year as Bach and Handel.  There were giants in the earth in those days, as the Good Book says.]

In Philosophy, it is said, we strive to view things sub specie aeternitatis, but alas we do not live that way. 

Well, enough of this brooding.  I am just waiting marking time until the novocaine wears off from my dentist visit this morning.

4 comments:

Tim said...

Your blogging brings me a great deal of happiness. Thank you.

Amato said...

Professor, if only you could be more like those folks in the original position. I'm reminded of when Rawls triumphantly proclaims: "Thus to see our place in society from the perspective of this position is to see it sub specie aeternitatis: it is to regard the human situation not only from all social but also from all temporal points of view."

Amato said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Magpie said...

I just discovered your blog recently.

But I find it quite instructive, enjoyable and at times humorous!

Not bad. Not bad at all!