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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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