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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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, December 17, 2014

BACK TO TWO FINGERS


Well, physical therapy didn't help;  Naproxin didn't help;  an arm strap didn't help;  Rolfing didn't help.  So I am just going to go back to typing with both forefingers and play through the pain, as they say in football.  Four weeks from now, I will get a cortisone injection under ultrasound.  If that doesn't work, I may try aroma therapy [not really -- that was a feeble attempt at humor.]  Time to return to the blog.

Let me thank all of you who posted thoughtful reactions to my meditation on privilege and luck.  I found the comments insightful and very interesting.  A few responses.

To Michael, it is certainly true that systematic anti-Semitic prejudice has almost evaporated in much of American life during my adulthood.  Growing up in a nominally Jewish family, I experienced very little of it directly or overtly, at least so far  as I knew [lord knows, there were enough other reasons to find me objectionable, so any rejections I suffered may have been over-determined, as they say in Althusserian circles.]  My casual impression is that anti-Semitism persisted a good deal longer in the business world and the world of public affairs [it played an important role, I believe, in Roosevelt's failure to do much of anything to save Jews from the Holocaust.]

I have already responded to Derek and Magpie, both of whom contributed very thoughtful comments.  It is quite obviously the case that all of us who live in a wealthy first-world country benefit enormously from this fact, and if we were born here, we can claim no credit at all for our good fortune.  The hundreds of millions of men, women, and children who live in desperate poverty in this world are all, I would think, less fortunate than the least fortunate of us here in America, or than in Europe and large parts of Asia and Latin America.  There are really only two ways to respond to this fact.  The first is literally to obey Christ's injunction to "go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me."[[Matthew 19:21]  The other is to accept the privileged life that chance has given one, and find ways consonant with that privilege to make the lives of others better.  This used to be called noblesse oblige, and in America, it is frowned upon as implying a claim of superiority.  But facts are facts, and if you never have to worry about whether you have enough to eat, wearing pre-torn designer jeans and affecting a common touch does not alter the realities.

1 comment:

Magpie said...

Prof.

The way I see things, your first alternative ("go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me." [Matthew 19:21]) could yield the following results:

(1) It would quite probably relief your distress (which is how this conversation started). Whether that is temporary or not, I can't guess.
(2) The balance of the positive and negative effects on the recipient(s) would quite likely be positive. Again, I won't risk a guess on whether this effect would be temporary or lasting (or on the magnitude of it).
(3) As an agnostic (I'm not an atheist and even the term agnostic doesn't really describe me accurately, but it'll do for now) I am willing to concede: there is a positive probability this may even gain you an entry ticket to Heaven (at the other hand, if one believes the Good Book, it may gain you the enmity of many on earth).

Note that I am not precluding positive effects. All in all, I'm inclined to believe that's quite likely a good choice.

At the other hand, I'm equally inclined to believe it won't bring socialism any closer to reality: not even the Lord, as quoted by Matthew, promised that.

Ultimately, it's your call. A matter of personal priorities.