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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

BACK TO THE CLASSROOM

My Marx course takes a sharp turn tomorrow, from the free-wheeling excitement of the Manifesto to the details of the dismal science.  For the next five hours [two classes], I shall be talking about the modern mathematical interpretation of classical Political Economy, from the Physiocrats, through Adam Smith, to David Ricardo.  The students are to read the first three chapters of my book Understanding Marx, in which I expound and interpret that mathematical reinterpretation using nothing more than high school algebra.   I have prepared a series of charts and tables and equations which I shall attempt to project onto a big TV screen in the classroom, using a USB cable and control already there.  Since it has been almost a quarter of a century since I did serious teaching, all of this technology is totally new to me, but I shall rely on my students to guide me.

Three weeks from now, the course will take another abrupt turn as we finally open Capital to the first page and tackle the famous, and famously mysterious, first chapter.  With that chapter, to which I plan to devote two entire two and a half hour classes, I ask them to read my little book, Moneybags Must Be So Lucky.

I have no idea what the students are making of this very strange course, but I am enjoying teaching it more than I have enjoyed any teaching experience in at least forty years, and maybe as much as fifty-four years [when I first taught the Critique of Pure Reason.]

Wish me luck!

7 comments:

Bruno Leipold said...

Could you post those charts and tables? Would be very interested in seeing them.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

There really isn't much there. Several are tables and equations from my book, and the others are just names of important Political Economists [Quesnay, Turgot, Smith, Ricardo]. The charts are just a way for me to have stuff up in front of the class when I want to refer to it. -- Also, pretty far from your interest in Marx and Republicanism [if the Internet is to be believed.] Thanks for asking, though.

Bruno Leipold said...

Ok I might take a look at the relevant sections in your book. Its not directly relevant to my research (!) but I've been going over Capital again recently and become quite interested in mathematical representations of the ideas.

LFC said...

I've done only a little teaching myself, but I think I'd find it close to impossible to teach a a pure lecture course (not even leaving a period for questions at the end of the class) -- though certainly I've experienced, as a student, lecture courses run along those lines. Anyway it strikes me that 2.5 hours is a very long lecture, no matter how compelling the lecturer, and I'd imagine the ability to remain attentive and absorb starts to diminish at some point for most people. I'd recommend taking a break halfway through the 2.5 hours, if you're not already doing that.

Jon Tostoe said...

I must say that as a student in the class, the charts are very helpful for wrapping my head around these ideas, moreover the time it takes to grasp these concepts becomes shorter with the depictions in the tables.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Jon, thank you so much for the comment. You have convinced me to keep using them. If they even help one person, they are worth it, and I suspect you speak for others as well.

Uday said...

I am quite enjoying these posts on your reflections in teaching Marx and classical political economy, I look forward to getting to the primary sources themselves soon.

This is a wonderful talk by the current Greek Finance Minister on his own intellectual biography, but also on the strengths and errors of Marx. Might be helpful to your students! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A3uNIgDmqwI&feature=youtu.be