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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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

THE EVOLUTIONARY ECOLOGY OF STORES

It is a truth universally acknowledged in the game preserves of East Africa that one needs roughly 100 prey animals [Impala, African buffalo, zebra, etc.] to one predator [lion, leopard, cheetah, etc.] for a stable sustainable balance.  [This is why the story of Noah's Ark is implausible.  What did the lions eat after they polished off both Impala?  And how did the Impala survive to the present day?]

I thought of this the other day when I was trying to find a music store in the Triangle Area [Chapel Hill, Durham, Raleigh] that carries chamber music scores and parts.  I have found a violinist -- my first small victory on the way to assembling a string quartet -- and we shall be trying out some Mozart duets for violin and viola, K 497, on Sunday.  Now, the Triangle is an area pretty well stocked with academics, medical personnel, research scientists, and even a symphony orchestra, and yet it has been very difficult for me to pull together a string quartet.  What is more, there is literally no shop in the region that carries a good selection of sheet music.  I did hear of a fabulous store in Charlotte [a three and a half hour drive to the West] but when I looked for it online, I found it had just closed after many years.

Apparently, it takes a very large number of amateur and professional classical musicians to sustain  such a store.  You can see why.  Once you have purchased, let us say, a set of parts of the early and middle Beethoven quartets, you have them, and for as long as you are alive, you are not going to need another set.

The same problem afflicts restaurants, even though unlike string quartet music, people will eat more than one meal in  their lives..  Almost any area will have a large number of cheap, fast food and take-out restaurants, but you need a sizable business community on expense accounts and a large number of couples who like a really good meal to sustain even one first-rate gourmet restaurant.

In the end, I had to get Shar Music in Ann Arbor to overnight me the Mozart duets so that I could take one copy over to Liz Prescott, the violinist, and start practicing the viola part.  It all made me appreciate Stammell Strings in Amherst, MA a good deal more.

8 comments:

Michael Llenos said...

Dr. Wolff,

Read Isaiah 11:6-7. Lions could have been vegetarians back then, as some may in the future, like on the rapture ship. How about all of the dead sea life sprawled out on the face of the earth after the flood? Lions could have eaten that.

How about zookeepers from space? In the Timaeus, the Egyptian scribe told Solon that Athens existed 9,000 years before their time. 5th century BC minus 9,000 years is 9,500 B.C., which is around Noah's time. The Atlanteans could have been a Red Cross to the world.

In Julius Caesar's African War, paragraph 24, his veteran troops washed seaweed with fresh water and fed it to their horses. Noah could have fed seaweed, that grew during the flood, to the Impala. Plus, Noah and his family could have taken care of all the animals, like an animal refuge, until those animals were numerous enough to leave Noah's vineyards for the rest of the world.

Like I said previously, I can't wait to find out if this new Russell Crowe movie is a hit or not.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I stand corrected. Clearly there are many ways in which vegetarian lions with their grinding molars could have survived on rinsed seaweed until the impala had had time to reproduce. Why didn't I think of that?

Michael Llenos said...

Dr. Wolff,

Well I wasn't saying these actions were probable but that they were possible. Meaning, there may be many other possibilities for the lions and impala to survive. Maybe Noah had something to do with that. Or maybe not. I wasn't there, so I don't know the complete facts.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Indeed, indeed. In that sense of "possible," anything not logically contradictory is possible. One could, of course, try to estimate probabilities, in which case I would imagine that the story of Noah and the Ark ranks in probability about with the probability that I am the Hidden Imam expected by the Shi'a -- clearly logically possible, but not very likely.

Michael Llenos said...

Dr. Wolff,

The Noah story is just 4 chapters in the Bible. That means there is a lot of information left out. The object of the writer was to summarize the story for a target audience, not to go into detail of what the lions and impala ate after the flood.

There was a Rabbi on television who said that Methuselah had the saddest life in Genesis, since he had no accomplishments worthy of note, and he lived the longest.

I thought to myself, why does this have to be the case? Why couldn't he have accomplishments in his life worthy of note, but the writer of Genesis was tired that night or had something against him etc.? The Rabbi assumed that Methuselah was sad based on probability. But it is quite possible the Rabbi was wrong to begin with.

Tsung-Yun said...

Interestingly, Hegel's metaphysics, logic, and philosophy of history are all at their core a denial of the principle of non-contradiction. In the Hegelian dialectic, the Idea becomes its other and returns to itself in rational self-consciousness.

Given your longstanding engagement with various strands of Marxism, I am wondering what your relationship is with Hegel. It is his work - and the broader tradition of German and Kantian idealism - that inspired Kierkegaard and, later, Freud's psychoanalysis.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

As readers of this blog know, I dislike what I have read of Hegel and do not find him at all interesting. I am well aware of his influence on 19th century thought, but I simply cannot abide reading him.

Tsung-Yun said...

That's understandable.