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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

KARL POPPER, OR EMPIRICAL DISCONFIRMATION


I make much in these blog posts of my plebian cultural tastes.  I am forever going on about how many games of FreeCell I play and the schlock novels I read.  Now this is not a mere Internet pose.  I really did watch The Young and the Restless daily for more than twenty years.  I really do read schlock novels, although I stopped reading Robert Ludlum novels after I discovered that he is dead and his novels are being written by Clive Cussler [who is now so successful that his novels are written by someone else -- sort of like Ford motor cars being made even after Henry Ford died.]  And the FreeCell win counter tells me that on this computer alone I have played more than 8,500 games.

Why do I do this?  Mostly, it is because it amuses me to represent myself as a cultural doofus when I have spent my life explicating the arcana of the philosophy of Kant, the economic theories of Marx, and the finer points of Game Theory.  But partly it is because I am painfully conscious that I am not, as I repeatedly observe, a true scholar, inasmuch as I cannot really read German, know very little math by the standards of real mathematicians, and have never actually taken a course on Economics in my life [although I did teach Introductory Micro once.]  I think I figure that if I say it first, I will forestall the inevitable scoffing by those who really are expert in the various fields I pretend to have mastered.  My intellectual life is a constant high wire act without a net.

Perhaps the most often repeated of my self-deprecations is the meme I have fashioned [if I may appropriate a useful word] of myself being dragged off to see good films by Susie despite my preference for shoot 'em ups with no redeeming social value.  Now, I really do like movies featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger or Steven Seagal or Tom Cruise [despite his regrettable embrace of Scientology], but recent experience is compelling me to reconsider  my self-description.

Last weekend, Susie dragged me off, for the third time in a row, to see a good film at the local Indie theater, and yet again, I left the theater thanking her for making me pass up the latest blockbuster at the multiplex across the street.  This time the movie was Chef, a modest little feel-good movie about a gifted cook who cuts loose from the constraints of a successful restaurant [owned by the villainous Dustin Hoffman] and finds his inner artist running a sandwich truck.  Oliver Platt does a nice turn as a restaurant critic, and Scarlett Johansson, whom I have always found a trifle weird, shows up to advantage as the chef's gorgeous, successful [at what?] ex-wife.  The movie is really about a father's bonding with his son, and the most violent scene is the chef's brutal dismembering of a pile of vegetables with his trusty chef's knife.

Now look.  Despite my life-long infatuation with Kant, I am an empiricist at heart, so when evidence piles up that one of my cherished beliefs is false, I feel a certain compulsion to reconsider.  Maybe I actually like good movies.  Who knew?

However, just today, the Arts section of the NY TIMES has a full-page ad for a new Jason Bourne book.  My heart fluttered as I anticipated, in the fullness of time, yet another Matt Damon classic.  Old habits die hard.

2 comments:

Matt said...

I am an empiricist at heart, so when evidence piles up that one of my cherished beliefs is false, I feel a certain compulsion to reconsider. Maybe I actually like good movies. Who knew?

In my experience this also applies to food.

classtruggle said...

Honesty at its finest and humility at its strongest. Thumbs up.