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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

BACK TO WORK

I have started reading Rawls' last book, Justice As Fairness: A Restatement, in preparation for the Reading Group I shall be leading for some doctoral students in the UNC Chapel Hill Philosophy Department this semester.  I am only 40 pages into the book, but I find it simply eerie -- one of the strangest books of philosophy I have ever read.  It is filled with passive constructions and ritual phrases -- at one point, I started underlining the word "reasonable" and its cognates in order to see how many times Rawls uses them on a single page.  All of the excitement and drama of the original version has evaporated.  Every time Rawls approaches a point at which he might appear to be arguing for some substantive claim that might provoke an argument, he tiptoes away into euphemisms. 

My son, Professor Tobias Barrington Wolff of the UPenn Law School, put it to me perfectly this way in an e-mail:

"It almost sounds like he's writing in the voice of Her Majesty the Queen of England. More to the point, he treats his own past work as a natural phenomenon that has great significance merely by existing and needs to be understood and interrogated and interpreted -- the project of the "Restatement" -- instead of a piece of work like any other that rises or falls on its merits. He came to believe in his own deification."

1 comment:

Matt said...

For what it's worth, it's not really a "proper" book, but based on his (undergrad, I believe) lectures that covered Theory (part of the same course that made up the material for his Lectures on the History of Political Philosophy, if I'm remembering correctly) and edited by one of his former students, after Rawls had had at least one stroke. I think it's really a quite useful summary, and especially useful for seeing which parts of the earlier theory fit with that in Political Liberalism, but to treat it as if it were a book consciously written in just this form, to be published in this way, is to be unfair to it and mis-read it, I'd say.