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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

IT IS ALWAYS SO MUCH NICER TO SPEND TIME WITH KANT" -- HANNAH ARENDT

Despite my long involvement with politics, my eleemosynary efforts through University Scholarships for South African Students, my administrative term of office as Graduate Program Director of the W. EM. B. DuBois Department of Afro-American Studies, I am at heart a man of the book.  I am never happier than when reading the Critique of Pure Reason,  A Treatise of Human Nature, The Gorgias, or the Philosophical Fragments.  This morning, deeply distressed by the election results and exasperated with my fellow Americans, I turned away from affairs of the public arena and began my long-planned re-reading of Volume One of Capital.  As I began the series of Prefaces and Afterwards written by Marx himself or Engels to the first, second, third, and fourth German editions, the English edition, and the French edition, my mood lightened and I found that I could again take deep, satisfying breaths.  Escapism?  Absolutely.  An ascent into the ideological superstructure?  No doubt.  But how pleasant to spend time with Marx rather than with Ted Cruz, or Thom Tillis, or Mitch McConnell -- or, for that matter, with Chris Matthews, or even with the estimable Rachel Maddow.

When I have worked hard on a book and have eventually written an essay or a book about it, I tend to forget all the passages that do not play a central role in my interpretation.  Re-reading Capital, my copy of which is filled with underlinings and marginal comments in red ink, I have repeatedly come upon paragraphs that had totally slipped my mind.  It was a delight to revisit them, although rather troubling to realize that even a semester-long course is too little time to mention them all.

Perhaps I should propose that the department make this a year-long seminar.

5 comments:

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

What is the first passage that does play a central role?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

The first sentence of chapter one, as it happens.

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

I can see the ontological with the highlighting of appearance or presentation, and the political economy in the focus on wealth and commodities, but should I also be seeing some sign of irony?

newfie931 said...

It's great to hear you (a professional philosopher) say that you tend to forget the passages that don't play a role in your interpretation in your essay/book.

I'm a mathematician, but I take a philosophy class each semester in the liberal arts college where I'm a faculty member. Three years of coursework, and the only stuff I remember (somewhat) well is what went in my term paper.

I also find that reading philosophy serves as a great escape. In the class I'm taking this semester, we finished reading Plato's Phaedrus and are now reading Philosophical Fragments (the theme is epistemology and the divine).

Robert Paul Wolff said...

The Philosophical Fragments is one of my all-time favorite books. Enjoy!