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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Friday, March 20, 2015

A NOTE ON DREAMING


The responses to my observations about anxiety dreams got me thinking about Willard Van Orman Quine, Erik Erikson, and Calypso.  What, you might ask, could the connection possibly be?  It is like this:

Erikson, somewhere [I think in Childhood and Society], observes that people have styles in dreaming.  Some people always dream in Technicolor, others dream in Black and White.  Some folks have cluttered dreams, filled with all manner of dream elements, as psychoanalysts call them;  others have very spare dreams, with only a few elements.  This does seem to be a matter of style -- those who dream in Technicolor, for example, will do so whether the feeling tone of the dream is anxiety, erotic desire, anger, or simple curiosity.

Inasmuch as I graduated from Harvard in 1953 after taking one undergraduate and two graduate logic courses with Quine, I naturally was reminded by Erikson's observation of a line in Quine's elegant little collection, From a Logical Point of View, which was published that year.  In the lead essay, "On What There Is," Quine describes himself at one point as having a "taste for desert landscapes" -- a fact, he suggests, that inclines him to spare ontologies.

Quine, all of us students knew, had rather eclectic cultural tastes, and so it was obvious where he had found the title for his book.  The source was a Calypso song made popular by the young Harry Belafonte whose refrain is "So from a logical point of view/Always marry a woman uglier than you."  I recall thinking that this was a really nifty choice of a title.

1 comment:

mesnenor said...

The song "Ugly Woman" was popularized by Roaring Lion back in the 30s. I don't know of a version by Belafonte, but he may very well have done it in his live shows. Actor Robert Mitchum did a version of the song re-titled as "From a Logical Point of View" in the late 50s.

The huge hit "If You Wanna Be Happy" which was recorded by Jimmy Soul in '63 was a rocked-up cover version of "Ugly Woman" but in that version the lyric is changed to "From my personal point of view . . ."