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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Saturday, February 14, 2015

THANK YOU TO JACOB T. LEVY, MAGPIE, AND JERRY FRESIA

Thank you all for your kind comments.  They mean a very great  deal more to me than you might imagine.

Jerry, if you have seen the great old 1941 movie The Hustler, with Paul Newman, George C. Scott, and Jackie Gleason, I can tell you exactly how it feels when the writing is going well.  Newman plays Fast Eddie, a pool hustler who is taken under the wing of George C. Scott, a manager or promoter.  Eddie finally gets a game with the legendary Minnesota Fats [a real person], played by Gleason.  Fast Eddie is in good form as the game progresses.  Playing him, Newman moves around the table like a great cat, making shot after shot.  At one point, he says to Scott, "I can't miss."

That is what it is like sometimes as I write.  The words flow, the most unlikely but perfact associations come to mind, it feels as though the words are being dictated by something in me to which I have only the slenderest access.  I am more fully alive when I am writing like that than at any other time in my life.  Leaving to one side the result and speaking only of the subjective experience of the activity, it is how I imagine van Gogh felt when he was painting or how Mozart felt when he was composing.

This, I think, is why I do not really care very much what critics say about the books I have published.  My writing is not a performance, and it is not, lord knows, scholarship.  It is an expression, the externalization of an idea that begins life inside me and is actualized on the page.  Once I have captured the idea as I sought to, I am done with it.  That is one of reasons why I have moved from field to field so restlessly.  Kant?  I have had my say.  I don't really care what more recent scholarship has said.  Hume?  The same.  Anarchism?  I have embodied my idea in a short book.  I am not really interested in trying to persuade people that I was right.  Marx is a bit more complicated.  That has been a forty-year involvement, culminating now with the course I am teaching.

This blog has offered an opportunity to continue writing.  It has therefore quite literally been a gift of life to me.  There are times when I struggle with it, my hands as it were writhing like Garson Kanin's, but there are also times when I am moving around the table like Fast Eddie, and when those moments arrive, I am fulfilled.

2 comments:

Jerry Fresia said...

Splendid! Robert Henri refers to these sorts of "extraordinary moments" that make art possible; hence, the art (writing, music, painting, etc) are by-products of that feeling or moment that infuses us with that sense of intensely being alive. (Emma Goldman referred to it as those moments when we feel "larger, more powerful, more beautiful).

This is what puzzles me, however. You seem to have disdain for Hegel (of whom, I know next to nothing). However, I have read Charles Taylor's Hegel - particularly the first 100 pages - many times. I don't have the book in front of me (as I'm traveling) but I found on my computer some cryptic notes which (I think) capture what Taylor believes to have been the Hegel project and to me, these (Hegelian?) thoughts also seem to be articulating what you (someone who doesn't especially care for Hegel) have described:

"The central notion is that human activity and human life are seen as expressions. ....expression as giving vent to, a realizing in external reality of something we feel or desire.…to see life as an expression is to see it as the realization of a purpose…not blind/idea….realization of a self…….a manifestation of inner power, striving to realize and maintain its own shape against …surrounding world…
the realization of a form clarifies or makes determinate what the form is….the specific property of human life is to culminate in self-awareness through expression...."

Magpie said...

No Prof. Thank you for writing.

Actually (forgive my directness, vino rojo is not a good advisor, particularly after working, when you are hungry) I hope more veteran people like yourself would write more often.

I recently found the website of an Argentine retired sociology professor (from Boulder, Colorado). She has loads of cool stuff and, judging by her website, must be a very interesting and likeable lady. But unfortunately, she has no blog.