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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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, May 3, 2016

MORE THAN YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT MARX

You may recall that on April 21st and 22nd, I spoke at Brown and MIT about my long engagement with the thought of Karl Marx.  The Brown talk was recorded, and Brown has now put it up on YouTube.  You may access it here,  The first thirty-five or forty minutes is me talking, after which there is an hour and twenty minutes of discussion.  It was an interesting event, graced by the presence of the distinguished Kant scholar Paul Guyer.  The MIT event was not recorded, unfortunately.  My last talk at MIT was in the late fall of 1963.  I hope I do not have to wait quite so long for the next one.

11 comments:

Chris said...

Been listening to the QA. It's quite interesting. There's a certain level of constant global ignorance about what Marx said (which could be corrected by a very fast reading of Capital), which it's clear you're fighting an uphill battle against. Hope to see more of these videos!

Robert Paul Wolff said...

sigh. How right you are. that and the desire to convert it all into analytic ethical theory!

Ian J. Seda Irizarry said...

Professor thank you so much for this. This is truly a jewel!
Please do consider what has already been proposed before: a video series of lectures on Marx, and maybe even on Marxisms- you have delighted us before with your comments on Analytical and Althusserian Marxism and it would be great if you could go in depth.
Again, simply fantastic
Cheers!

Chris said...

"analytic ethical theory" is the ideological bane of philosophy! ;)

s. wallerstein said...

Professor Wolff,

Thank you very much. I agree with Ian J. Seda Irizarry above that you should do a full video series on Marx or even maybe more than one, because Marx and the Marxists have given us such a rich tradition with so many fascinating facets, which you have studied and mastered.

Tom Cathcart said...

Bob, as a Marx ignoramus, I was unable to follow the distinction between labor value and labor power value. Help?

Austin Haigler said...

Hello all,

I've been reading this blog for about 4-5 months now. Professor Wolff, it may please you to know that Michael Pendlebury over at NC State, one of my close mentors, has been turning some of us on to your work (or at least one of us, namely myself). Since early this semester I've been reading everything posted, along with comments, and I want to echo some of the statements made. I am half way through the lectures on ideological critique (which fit well with Jason Stanley's latest book, How Propaganda Works, that I read in Allen Buchanan's course last fall at Duke, that I suggest all check out), and I just watched the Brown talk today.

I am only slightly familiar with Marx and I don't have a chance to take a course on it (outside of one section of an undergraduate political theory course from a few years back), so I would be 100% in favor of your doing a lecture series on some of your Marx work. The Brown talk was extremely engaging and would love to hear/see more.

Thanks!

Austin C Haigler

Matt said...

Tom - If you can get a hold of it (and care enough - no worries if not) the volume from the New Palgrave Dictionary of Economics on Marxian Economics has a concise and useful account of the ideas. (An interesting claim made there is that it was largely Engels' version of "labor power" that was taken up by Marxists, but that he makes a hash of the idea, while the original idea does show a shortcoming with Ricardo's account, even if not nearly as important as sometimes thought by true-believers.) (Many of the New Palgrave volumes are useful and available for very little money on Amazon.)

Chris said...

Tom,
The distinction Marx is making is important for demonstrating the theory of exploitation. I'll try to explain it simply.

In general, we are under the ideological illusion that people are paid for their work, i.e., LABOR. For instance, I was paid $45 a day to make sandwiches at Firehouse Subs. A fair days wage for a fair days work. I worked hard, making food, and was compensated for my work, i.e., my labor.

But that's not what's going on. I'm being paid to reproduce my LABOR POWER. Labor power is the ability we all have to exercise our physical and mental muscles in order to work. At some point we need to replenish our labor power capacity to go to work again. So I need X calories, Y nourishment, Q transportation, Z shelter, to REPRODUCE my LABOR POWER, i.e., my capacity to work.

So although when I worked at firehouse my LABOR produced $3500 a day, I was paid for my LABOR POWER. So I was exploited by $3455. This is clear when you separate labor power from actual labor. It's not clear when you accept the ideological claim referenced above.

Happy to answer any other questions.
Also I didn't realize you were the author of these really funny books I always seen at my barnes and noble! Congrats and keep up the good work!

Does this help?
Best,
Chris

Chris said...

By the way Tom, do you know if there's any substantive differences between your trolley book and the one by David Edmonds? I read Edmonds over a year ago. I'm keen to read yours, since the trolley problem is a great heuristic device.

Tom Cathcart said...

Thank you, Matt and Chris, for help with my question. Chris, the Edmonds book came out the same day as mine. Weird. They were reviewed together in the papers. It was a mixed bag in terms of luck. On the one hand, we split the sales. On the other, we upped the chances of getting reviewed, and both the Sunday Times and the Wall Street Journal reviewed them. He knew a lot of stuff I didn't know about the relationships between Philippa Foot and the other women Oxford philosophers, G.E.M. Anscombe and Iris Murdoch, and his book is genereally more sophisticated philosophically. Mine is more pop-phil, a fictional illustration of the problem, set in a courtroom, where the jury is asked to decide the guilt or innocence of the woman who threw the switch. Ironically, without knowing that his book was coming out, I got some of my best stuff from an article he had published in England. To answer your question, there's really no reason for you to read mine, other than maybe to have some fun. (Incidentally, Bob kindly wrote a blurb for the jacket.)