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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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



Total Pageviews

Friday, May 22, 2015

SMALL PLEASURES

My bag is packed, I have had a haircut, a taxi is arranged, and there is really nothing more to be done save wait until tomorrow, so I spent some time exploring my IPhone, with special attention to the apps I never use.  I discovered that I have zero birds listed on my life list on my Birds of the World app.  GoogleMaps assured me that I am still in Chapel Hill.  For the tenth time, I checked the weather in Paris.  And then I tapped the iBooks icon.  It turns out that I have A Treatise of Human Nature on my phone [I am old enough to find this astonishing.]  I called up the text and began reading the Introduction.  I feeling of warmth and comfort came over me as I read again the words I first read sixty-four years ago.  How measured, how sane, how charmingly familiar they were.  I am a Kant scholar of some sort and a Marxist, or so I insist, but David Hume is my favorite philosopher.  I do not think I would actually have much enjoyed an evening with Kant or Marx, for all their greatness, but I would give anything to have had the pleasure of an evening with the man whom the French called le bon David.  In my mind he is linked with Jane Austen, who lived perhaps a generation later.  Of both it would always have been the case that they were the smartest person in any room, and yet both were in their way unassuming and modest, allowing others to underestimate them.  Perhaps on the long plane ride I shall pass the time by dipping here and there into Books One, Two, and Three of the Treatise.

9 comments:

David Auerbach said...

It is very rare for someone to have extreme merit along so many dimensions of the human personality. Russell, whose intellectual work I estimate higher than is currently fashionable, had some rather well-known personal flaws. Gödel, as toweringingly smart and insightful as he was, had his well-known flaws. And Frege, oy! And Newton and so on. And, while no one is a saint, Hume does sort of stand above. And he wrote so damn well. What do we know about Bach?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Well, he fathered twenty-two children, so I think we can say he was a family man. What little I know suggests that he was a good stolid burgher who just happened to be the greatgest composer who ever lived. Mozart was a nutcase, of course, and Beethoven was weird, and I believe Garibaldo caught his wife in bed with another man and killed them both. His musikc shows some signs of that.

Jerry Fresia said...

Speaking of Bach, chamber music, and such, a discussion of same graces a left political news site today:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/05/22/chiaroscuro-comes-to-america/

Magpie said...

"Well, he fathered twenty-two children, so I think we can say he was a family man."

Poor Mrs. Bach... (assuming all those children were with Mrs. Bach)

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I checked Wikipedia. Bach had two wives, and twenty children, not twenty-two, only ten of whom survived to adulthood [!!]. His second wife was Anna Magdelena, who is imortalize in some of his compositions. But all in all, a good family man as well as a transcendent composer.

classtruggle said...

'Like Hume, Marx was fond of referring not only to Lucretius but also to the later satirist (and Epicurean) Lucian (c. 120–c. 180) and his Dialogues of the Gods, in which, according to Marx, the gods died a second death due to comedy. And just as Hume had turned to Lucretius and Lucian on his deathbed, Marx’s response to death, as recounted by Engels, was to quote Epicurus: “Death is not a misfortune for him who dies, but for him who survives.”'

http://monthlyreview.org/2008/10/01/marxs-critique-of-heaven-and-critique-of-earth/

Magpie said...

Prof. Wolff and fellow readers,

A very enjoyable read:

"Das Kapital at the Arsenale: how Okwui Enwezor invited Marx to the Biennale" by Charlotte Higgins
Friday 8 May 2015
http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/may/07/das-kapital-at-venice-biennale-okwui-enwezor-karl-marx

The author is a genius of subtle irony.

Jerry Fresia said...

Thanks Magpie; interesting about the Biennale but the best thing I think artists could do would be to organize a boycott.

levinebar said...

I'm just 600 pages into Jonathan Israel's "Democratic Enlightenment" (it took him 440 pp to get to the American Revolution). Almost gave it up when I found he had no bibliography entry for "Hume, David"*. But he's now getting into the influence of Spinoza on Rousseau, so I plow on.


*although he discussed Hume's work