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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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, October 28, 2014

MYSTERY SOLVED

I had a marvelous e-mail message explaining Ms. N's inquiry, from Thom Hawkins, who sounds like something of a renaissance character after my own heart.  If you google him, you can watch him explaining the fourth dimension in five minutes.  Here is his e-mail [with his permission]:

Sir,
 
I assure you that the Caius inquiry was neither a hoax nor a Thurburian jest. I am the man behind the curtain who paid Ms. N, at a personal cost of three dollars, to investigate the identity of "Caius" in Kant's syllogism. A task at which she ultimately failed, but for which I awarded her high marks (well, a thumb pointed upward) for the effort. I occasionally pay surrogate researchers to dig into questions while I sleep, not only as a time management efficiency, but because they might think to look somewhere I did not. This was certainly the case here, because just as I would sooner consult a map than stop to ask for directions, I'd sooner drive two hours to consult a distant library's holdings than I would send an email to someone who might know something on the subject. Clearly, she found the more direct route.
 
Because you've since shown interest regarding this request, I will share its origin--a quote from Tolstoy's The Death of Ivan Ilych: ?The example of a syllogism that he had studied in Kiesewetter's logic: Caius is a man, men are mortal, therefore Caius is mortal, had throughout his whole life seemed to him right only in relation to Caius, but not to him at all.?
 
Ilych essentially dwells on the second premise, that man is mortal, because of its relevance to his own situation as a dying man. I thought that perhaps I was missing another perspective--a historical dimension--on this passage because I did not know the identity of Caius. Thus the connection from Tolstoy's quote to Johann Gottfried Christian Kiesewetter's Grundriss einer allgemeinen Logik nach Kantischen Grundsa?tzen and from there to Kant's The Critique of Pure Reason, where I found no more clues regarding Caius than in Ilych.
 
I appreciate your candid and humorous response, although I admit I'm disappointed that Caius might be nothing more than a name. Thank you also for the invitation via Ms. N to read "On a Supposed Right to Lie from Altruistic Motives." It strikes me that Kant would make a fine narrator for a play based on the prisoner's dilemma, or perhaps the staging could be augmented with dueling commentary by Kant and Constant as "the German philosopher" and "the French philosopher."
 
Sincerely,
Thom H.

2 comments:

Aldo Antonelli said...

Obviously, Kant read Tolstoy

formerly a wage slave said...

I wonder if Thom H. knows Russian. If he doesn't, learning it would bring him round to new understanding of Tolstoi--- much more than would searches on the Internet, either done by himself or a surrogate.