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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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, July 29, 2013

SIX GENERATIONS

My granddaughter, Athena, will be five on Thursday.  Three weeks later she will start kindergarten.  Grandpa has been accorded the privilege of giving her, as a birthday present, the new backpack she will need for this momentous occasion.   When Athena's mother, Diana, told me that Athena would be starting kindergarten, I recalled a brief excerpt from a tape recording that my father made of his mother's reminiscences in 1971.  At that point, my grandmother, Ella Nislow Wolff, was either ninety-three or ninety-four, depending on whose recollections one trusts.  Her age had always been a matter of some dispute in the family, because she was a year older than her husband, Barney, and she tried, without success, to conceal this fact by lying about her age.

Here is my Grandmother's recollection, as I transcribed it from the tape, without, however, managing to capture the distinctive Vilna accent that she retained more than eighty years after coming to America:
 
Miss Moses was a school teacher that my little sister - was not in her class, but the little sister was one that caused a great discussion of having kindergarten.  She was so marvelous at her age, she was four and a half years, not quite, then [that] they started to talk about having kindergarten in America.

She died as a child, that’s why Rosabelle has her name.    So they came to the father to tell the father why should a child as intelligent as this sort be working in a shop.  She should get a chance to get somewhere, she should get schooling.  So of course there was no compulsory schooling then so they talked but my father didn’t even pay attention to this.  I went on working.  But my little sister went to school, but unfortunately she got - that terrible winter that we had with diphtheria that time in New York, she was one of those who passed away that time.
 
The father who would not hear of his little girl going to kindergarten was Athena's great great great grandfather, my grandmother's father.  There is this slender thread stretching across one hundred twenty years or more and six generations.  Some day, I hope, long after I have died, Athena, all grown up, will read the book I wrote about my grandparents and learn something of her lineage.  Perhaps, if I am very fortunate, that book will be passed on to her children, and her children's children.  My fondest dream is that, as my grandfather's life in socialist politics inspired me, perhaps my life in the Academy will inspire Athena and her children.

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