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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Wednesday, December 9, 2015

UMKEHRUNG

Life was simple for the first one hundred thousand years or so of the human race.  When babies were born, the grown-ups would explain to them how things worked -- how to chip away at a special sort of rock until it turned into a hand axe or a scraper;  which berries you could eat and which would make you sick;  which college to apply for -- that sort of thing.  This is the way it was when I was a boy.   I did not teach my father to play chess, he taught me.  I, in turn, taught my son how to play chess.  Of course, he then went on to become an International Grandmaster, but I taught him the moves!

At some point, when I wasn't looking, everything turned upside down.  An Umkehrung, the Germans call it [or so I believe --as I have observed, I do not really know any German.]  Something troubling and revolutionary happened more or less thirty years ago.   Children started explaining to their parents how things work.  I don't mean they rebelled against the dress codes, rules of polite behavior, politics, or musical tastes of their parents -- that has been standard operating procedure at least since Thrasymachus gave the finger to Socrates.  I mean quite literally that children, not yet legally permitted to drive, began explaining to their parents how things actually work.

Today I made a second visit to the Geek Squad at the local branch of Best Buy, the computer, TV, and whatnot outlet up route 15/501 in the New Hope Plaza off Mt. Moriah Road [this is North Carolina, remember, so there is a heavy Old Testament presence -- see Genesis 22:2, and Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac.]   As they say in Techspeak, this was Desperation 2.0.  I had managed to record a 12 second bit of me beginning my first lecture on Ideological Critique, but I could not seem to transfer it from the Camcorder to my computer to check the voice quality, preparatory to actually giving lectures, transferring them to my computer, and uploading them to YouTube.

A very nice young man, surely half a century my junior but probably more, fussed with the computer and camera I brought in, and in ten minutes managed the entire affair.  He then handed me a piece of paper and a pencil and dictated a series of instructions to me [right click this, double click that, look for the little icon at the lower left of my desktop screen -- that sort of thing.]  I like to think of myself as an intelligent person, but I had spent several hours reading the manual and then totally failing to carry out this simplest of all actions.

Well, I am pleased to report that the sound was fine, the picture was lovely, and I am ready to go next semester.  I am afraid I look horribly old, and my facial tics are there for all to see, but the project is a Go.

Now, if that nice young man would like to make a stone axe or decide which berries to eat, I can help him.

3 comments:

TheDudeDiogenes said...

Amusing and ponderable!

David Auerbach said...

I'm sure some 20-something techie could superimpose the face of Brad Pitt (or maybe Jeff Goldblum would be less discordant) over yours, perhaps even cleverly melding them. There are various voice-enhancing technologies as well, although I suppose you don't have to be pitch-perfect in this context.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I would be quite happy with Donald Southerland.