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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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, April 15, 2013

MACROS AND PC'S AN UNPUBLISHED PAPER

As I was pawing through my piles of unpublished materials, trying to decide which to include in Volume Three of my Collected Papers, I came across a lovely little paper I wrote nineteen years ago, in response to something that happened in a seminar I was teaching at UMass.  It is, if I may toot my own horn, a fitting addendum to George Orwell's great essay, "Politics and the English Language."  I have had it scanned into a PDF file, and it is now archived at box.net, accessible from the link at the top of this blog, under the title "Macros and PC's".  Let me know what you think of it.

4 comments:

Bjorn said...

Great essay, I very much enjoyed reading it.

MarcusAquinas said...

Very nicely reasoned and expressed. A joy to read.

Bruce Aune said...

Great essay, Bob--very nicely done!

T Gent said...

Lovely essay! Had you already told the story more briefly, because the phrase sounded familiar, and not just because it is a macro. In any case, it was really 'stimulating and thought-provoking' (would that count as a macro?)
But I also thought, I wouldn't say that the phrase 'racism, sexism, classism and homophobia' is not okay. It's a perfectly useful phrase, in that it summarises a lot (a LOT) of facts in a short time. This obviously simplifies them, but I guess it all depends on the intention of the speaker and on whether they are thinking about the implications of their words or merely spitting them out. So in that sense whether someone is using a macro is unverifiable.
Unless you are saying that some phrases are, objectively, macros, and have really lost meaning, and one should find some other way of saying what was originally meant by them. But I think I might be able to say a phrase like that and be trying to sum up a state of affairs in order to make a (simplified but not necessarily useless) point.

I thought the best part of the essay, though, is where you say that a 'critical', 'revolutionary' vocabulary has been appropriated for purely aesthetical purposes. It certainly makes you think about the 'impression' that an essay about, say, Nietzsche's use of metaphor can make on you, as though you were doing something in the widest sense political, simply because it uses a certain kind of language.

One last thing, what the hell did that German student mean? You did well to use it as a stimulus for discussion, but what's wrong with her?