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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Wednesday, September 3, 2014

MYSELF IN FULL MR TOAD MODE, IN RESPONSE TO JAMES

James responded to my brief report of a book review in the NY TIMES by offering a link to an essay by the well-known philosopher Judith Butler.   After I read the Butler piece, I posted a comment in which I referred in passing  to an old essay by me critical of Hannah Arendt.  James, quite unnecessarily, confessed himself "embarrassed" at not being familiar with my views [good grief, I cannot even remember everything I have published, and I am the author!]  All of that provoked me to go back and re-read the essay I had referred to.  It is called "Notes for a Materialist Analysis of the Public and the Private Realms."  It was written for a symposium in honor of the memory of Arendt held in the early eighties at The New School for Social Research in New York City, and was subsequently published in the New School's Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal.

Now, I am going to be honest here, at the risk of embarrassing myself.  I think the essay is genuinely brilliant, and very important.  [It never got much notice, but then I am the Rodney Dangerfield of Philosophy.]  It can be found in Volume II of my Collected Published and Unpublished Papers, From Each According to His Need, available on Amazon.com.  It is not an easy essay, ranging quickly as it does over literary theory, philosophy, psychoanalytic theory, and Marxian theory.  If you are not its author [as I am], you may not find your mind cutting through it effortlessly like a hot knife through butter.  But I genuinely believe that it is worth the effort.

For those of you who [quite rightly] resent having to pay $9.99 to Amazon [even though my share of the take goes to McMaster University to fund the Robert P. Wolff Dissertation Prize], I have up-loaded it in .pdf form to box.net, accessible via the link at the top of this blog.

1 comment:

James said...

I enjoyed your essay on Arendt--thanks for making it available. Your comments on the public/private distinction stand alone as interesting and important apart from any other issue, and I might engage with those at another time somewhere else. Your criticisms of Arendt generally hit their target too. But I do believe there is more room for agreement than you may suspect.

Especially in the case of Eichmann, the question of the ontological status of both narrative and historical facts can cut both ways: despite the amount we know about the historical Eichmann, he remains elusive. And not because we lack total information about him, but because what is at stake for those in the debate about Arendt's "the banality of evil" tends to be the meaning of Eichmann as character in the story of 20th century totalitarianism. Arendt's account offends because her Eichmann doesn't live up to the extreme and morally odious nature of the factual Holocaust. So we would like to hyperbolize Eichmann, as well as other doers of evil, to fit the image of the evil mastermind with which we are familiar from fictional accounts.

Which account hits the mark with Eichmann is difficult to tell. It seems plausible to me that a rational, purposeful, morally corrupt agency and a kind of unthinking banality could cohabit in the same person of Eichmann. But maybe Stangneth's book helps decide that? All the more reason to read it I guess.

Either way, I'm glad I came upon your essay as its relevant to a lot of current Arendt discussion.