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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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
LECTURE ONE: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d__In2PQS60
LECTURE TWO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Al7O2puvdDA

ALSO AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ONE THROUGH TEN ON IDEOLOGICAL CRITIQUE



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Saturday, August 10, 2013

IDLE THOUGHTS

1.  What is it about August?

Yesterday, the thought crossed my mind that I might write a little post explaining the real meaning of "the mark of Cain," an expression almost always misused.  But a small voice in the back of my head said, "You've done that."  So I went looking, and sure enough, almost exactly one year ago, in a post I wrote on the 12th of August, there was the explanation.  Maybe it is a religious thing that I feel I must do once a year.

2.  Performance enhancing drugs.

First it was Lance Armstrong.  Then it was Roger Clemens.  Now it is Alex Rodriguez.  There seems always to be some sports hero who is dragged low by the revelation that he took proscribed performance enhancing drugs.  I have to confess that I do not feel a rush of censorious disapproval when the news breaks.  Everybody acts as though the drugs magically turn an ordinary nobody into a superstar.  Fat chance!  Take whatever drugs you wish and then try to get your bat on a major league fastball, let along hit it out of the park.  Shoot up steroids until you look like the Incredible Hulk and you will still probably not make it through the first day of the Tour de France.  These guys are extraordinary athletes.  They are expected to adopt a regimen of diet and training and coaching for years on end unlike anything the rest of us have ever experienced.  So far as I am concerned, if the regimen includes drugs, so be it.  Their achievements are still the stuff of legends.

Let's face it.  Chariots of Fire or no Chariots of Fire, big league athletics today is not the idle amusement of fit young gentlemen sportsmen.
 

6 comments:

Magpie said...

(It's off-topic, so apologies in advance)

Prof.

I think you may enjoy this article (it's also free of charge, which for me makes it doubly enjoyable!). It's about the "doyenne of English Marxists", Joan Robinson. In essence, Geoff Harcourt's views on Robinson and a variety of subjects, particularly Marx.

Talking About Joan Robinson: Geoff Harcourt in Conversation with John King
Geoff Harcourt, John King
Review of Social Economy
Vol. 53, Iss. 1, 1995
http://www.tandfonline.com/action/showCitFormats?doi=10.1080%2F00346769500000002

From the article:

Harcourt: "And Joan, partly in retrospect, saw that the thrust of the attack of Imperfect Competition on laissez faire, and capitalism generally, was showing that it was a system of exploitation, because it discredited marginal productivity. As soon as you had imperfect competition, workers got paid less than the value of their marginal product." (page 34)

(Prof. Harcourt is a professor of HET and life-long friend of Mrs. Robinson's)

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I will take a look at it. Believe it or not, Robinson's book on imperfect competition was the very first piece of formal economics I ever read!! I was twenty, in Oxford on a traveling fellowship, not eager to go talk to my tutor, some chap named Peter Strawson [!!]. I read Robinson, than Chamberlin's book on the same subject, then Samuelson's Economics textbook. Then I bought a little motorcycle and rode it to Rome.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Magpie, I read the lengthy exchange about Robinson. Fascinating. A great deal of inside baseball, as it were. I am fascinated to learn that she was afraid of Sraffa. He is one of my real intellectual heroes, as I am sure my postings on this blog have made clear. It is a crime that Robinson did not get the Nobel Prize. On the other hand, considering the list of laureates in Economics, I am not sure one would want to be on the list.

Magpie said...

Reading that article, I was reminded of things you wrote in your book on Marx's economics.

I couldn't help smiling to Robinson's alleged philistine attitude towards LTV.

Matt said...

I'd agree on PEDs. The thing about Armstrong is that many of his top competitors had tested positive over the years. So, if he _hadn't_ used them at all, and still won as much as he did, he would have clearly been the greatest athlete of all time, by a long shot. That seemed unlikely, so it should have always seemed likely that he was using them. If he wasn't such a jerk, both about this and in general, I'd have no real problem with him.

Otto Normalverbraucher said...

You might have been a bit hasty. In reading last year's article, I see comments about how silly is the literal reading of Cain's story but not much much in terms of its "real meaning".