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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

CROSS-EYED

Well, one eye is now 20-20 and the other is 20-400.  Even reading schlock fiction is difficult.  It surprised me that having my eyes out of whack diminished my ability to follow even a mildly complicated plot.  Bear with me.  In two weeks, my cataract surgery will be completed and I shall be reborn, with 20-20 distance vision and appropriate reading glasses.

While I bide my time, perhaps I can offer my own explanation for Romney's mysterious and self-defeating refusal to release his tax returns.  Speculation has been uncontrolled, needless to say, with elaborate hypotheses being floated as to what is in those returns [zero tax rate in some year due to carry-over paper losses?  Participation in the government's get-out-of-jail-free card for Swiss bank account abusers?   Donations to the Mormon Church so large as to force discussion of Romney's  central role in that secretive and cultish religion?]

Herewith my own thoughts, quite unsubstantiated by anything resembling evidence, of course, but not for that reason inferior to the competing explanations.  I think Romney and his wife [and his sons, for all I know] are so completely possessed of a sense of impervious entitlement that they are just offended by the request that he release his tax returns.  Romney is like one of those grandees of the ancien regime whom Tocqueville described so vividly in Democracy in America.  Ann Romney's wonderfully revealing remark, "We have given you people all you need to know" captures perfectly the Romneys' tone-deaf sense of noblesse [without the oblige, I am afraid.]

It is of course still possible that he may conclude that he must bend to the whims of the riff-raff and show a bit of leg, as they used to say, releasing a bit of a return here, another bit there.  But I would bet a fiver that he never just dumps the whole mess on the press and takes his lumps.  Oddly enough, even George W., who was, as Ann Richards famously said, born with a silver spoon in his mouth, did not exhibit that degree of cluelessness about what is required to become president.

Continuing my fact-free speculation, I would guess that the source of this impervious sense of entitlement is as much Romney's elevated role in the Mormon Church as it is his great wealth.  I gather from what I have read that questioning those in authority is not exactly encouraged among Mormons.  If ever one needed that fine old expression, infra dig, Romney's attitude evokes it.

Now we must pretend to care about synchronized swimming and the modern pentathlon for several weeks.  I am practicing my "USA USA" chant.

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