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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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, April 24, 2015

LEAVES OF GOLD


For as long as I can remember [which is to say, as far back as September, 1950, when I began my undergraduate career], The COOP -- the Harvard Cooperative Society -- has dominated Harvard Square.  I never actually spent much money at the COOP even when I was in residence in Cambridge, Mass, but each year I pay the three dollars [it used to be one] for a little black date book -- my COOP book -- in which I keep track of classes, dinners, doctors' appointments and the like.  Each page covers seven days, and when I turn the page for a new Sunday, I carefully fold down the upper right corner, so that the book always opens to the current week.

Because the COOP is a college store, the COOP book starts with late August, which is roughly the beginning of the academic year, and ends somewhat more than twelve months later so that one has a little overlap.  I never throw old COOP books away, and I have a total of forty-three including the one that is now in operation. 

This is something of a family tradition.  Among the thousands of papers I inherited when my father died, including letters between my grandparents, letters between my parents, and every letter my sister and I ever wrote home, were several dozen of these little date books in my father's or mother's hand [not COOP books, of course.]  They were invaluable when I wrote books about my grandparents and my parents, just as my COOP books were a resource for me as I composed my Autobiography. 

Taking several books at random from the box in which I keep them, I find that on Tuesday, January 17, 1978 there was a Northampton Cub Scout pack meeting at which the boys would race their little homemade cars down a long track.  I was the Cub Master, and hence the Master of Ceremonies.  On Friday, May 24, 1997, I was in Durban, South Africa, where I had gone for my semi-annual visit to the students my little scholarship organization was funding.  From 1-2 p.m. in the Music Building there were auditions, and it was then that I first hear the booming bass-baritone voice of a young man from a Black township, Thamsanqa Zungu.  Thami sang "The Trumpet Shall Sound" from  the Messiah, and I almost fell off my chair when I heard him.  Although he lacked the academic credentials [a "matric," as it is called in South Africa] to enroll at the University of Durban-Westville, I was able to fund his studies as a special student until he won a scholarship at Juilliard.  He is now on the faculty of a South African university.

Turning the little pages of each book, one by one, I am reminded of how long I have lived, and how many people I have known.  Sam Bowles, Milton Cantor, Ann Ferguson, Bob Ackerman, my sons, my first wife, Susie -- there they all are, their lives intersecting with mine.

If you are young and are not completely in thrall to electronic devices, I recommend that you keep your daily planners.  I guarantee that a time will come when you are glad you did.

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