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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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



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Thursday, February 4, 2016

KEEPING IT CLEAN

Wallace Stevens reports that my brief foray into obscenity triggered a filter in his internet provider that blocked my blog.  We cannot have that, so I have deleted the post and all the comments with the bad language.  Now I will go and wash my mouth out with soap.

8 comments:

Vincent said...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjYz80E94VA

Robert Paul Wolff said...

I love it!

mesnenor said...

I grieve for my poor innocent comment. Slaughtered at the altar of puritanism . . .

Juhani Yli-Vakkuri said...

Prof. Wolff,

This filter doesn't seem to undertand the difference between use and mention. I assume, however, that, as a student of Quine, you do.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Indeed I do, Dr. Yli-Vakkuri, but even when I was studying with Quine sixty-seven years ago, he warned us that not everyone grasps the distinction as firmly as they might. :)

I see that you have collaborated with others on several writing projects. How does that work? I have never understood how one could do that. I fear it would be like trying to write a poem with someone else.

Juhani Yli-Vakkuri said...

Yes, we've discussed this before. Early on (in grad school) I published a few single-authored papers in journals. Nowadays I coauthor almost everything. I find coauthoring much easier than single-authoring, and I think it results in better work. Two or more authors are more likely to catch mistakes in a paper or book than one author. How does it work? Not that differently from single-authoring. Even when I’m nominally the sole author of a paper, the paper has invariably benefited from suggestions and objections by other philosophers. The main difference is that, instead of thanking those people in the acknowledgements, I include them as authors. Of course the people designated as authors will have contributed more than the people who get thanked in the acknowledgements, but that’s a difference of degree, not kind. (Also, I may ask a coauthor to write a bit of a paper or a book. But that kind of thing is also not unheard of in single-authored philosophy: it sometimes happens that a philosopher x notices a problem in another philosopher y’s paper, and the problem pertains to x’s area of expertise about which y is clueless, and x says, ‘Look, just say this: ...’ and in effect dictates a footnote that ends up in a published paper with an added ‘Thanks to x for this observation’.)

It’s interesting that you think coauthoring philosophy should be somehow as difficult as coauthoring poetry. Maybe you have a somewhat different conception of (good) philosophy than I do. When I do philosophy, I’m just interested in discovering interesting truths about whatever the topic is. I don’t much care about how the truths get expressed in writing, as long as they get expressed clearly. (In fact, sometimes they don’t get expressed in writing. One of the papers I’m coauthoring right now – which deals with the interaction of vagueness and alethic modality – has several diagrams.) It may be hard for several authors to agree on what a poem should say, but it’s not that hard to agree on what’s true, at least if you selected appropriate questions to work on. If it’s too hard, then you’ve probably chosen a bad question. (This follows form a more general principle: you should only try to do things you’re able to do.)

By the way, your teacher Quine had at least two coauthors.

Warren Goldfarb said...

Quine had three co-authors: Nelson Goodman for two papers, Joe Ullian for an elementary book (The Web of Belief) and Hao Wang for a short mathematical paper. He never co-authored with Burt Dreben, despite the nearly constant acknowledgements to Dreben starting in the late 1950s.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Boy, down memory lane. I studied with Goodman as a Freshman, Joe Ullian was a good friend and we got our doctorates the same year, and Hao Wang was my teacher and also, for a while, my undergraduate adviser. And of course I took three courses and seminars with Quine and he was for three years my colleague [so to speak.]