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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Sunday, September 4, 2016

BUSY, BUSY

Now that my lecture notes for the second Kant lecture are complete, I have turned my thoughts to the third lecture, which will deal with the Transcendental Aesthetic.  The concept of intuition is of course central to that passage, and although it was a familiar philosophical term in Kant's day [intuitio], it does not today have anything like the same meaning.  Kant for the most part talks about sensible intuition, but I need to explain as well the even more obscure notion of intellectual intuition, which Kant, Spinoza, and many other philosophers of that period attribute to God.  How to explain the notion of intuition that is active rather than passive, intellectual rather than sensible, creative rather than receptive?

It occurred to me that one lovely way is by allusion to one of Handel's most exquisite arias, "Where'er I walk" from the opera Semele.  Jupiter has taken the mortal Semele as a lover, and when she aspires to see him in his true form [which would kill her, as indeed it does eventually] he seeks to divert her with earthly pleasures.  You can hear the aria sung beautifully here.  The words are:

Where'er you walk
Cool gales shall fan the glade
Trees where you sit
shall crowd into a shade
Trees where you sit
shall crowd into a shade
  Where'er you tread
the blushing flowers shall rise
and all things flourish
and all things flourish
Where'er you turn your eyes
Where'er you walk
Cool gales shall fan the glade
Trees where you sit
shall crowd into a shade
Trees where you sit
shall crowd into a shade.

The point is that because he is a God, indeed the most powerful of the Gods, his words are not a promise of cool gales and blushing flowers, they are the creation of these delights. For Jupiter, to form the image of something is to bring it into existence.  His intuition is intellectual.  

My only problem is that I have no way of playing it for my class.  How I wish I had a beautiful tenor voice!

4 comments:

Michael Llenos said...

Dr. Wolff,

You wrote:

"but I need to explain as well the even more obscure notion of intellectual intuition, which Kant, Spinoza, and many other philosophers of that period attribute to God.  How to explain the notion of intuition that is active rather than passive, intellectual rather than sensible, creative rather than receptive?"

I believe describing intellectual intuition would be like describing the difference between a man's finite intellect and God's infinite mind. I mean how could a First Cause of all things think before it caused time to exist? Perhaps Kant would say that we could describe an infinite mind in the realm of appearances but not how it truly is in reality. The real definition and understanding of intellectual intuition would always escape us then.

Andrew Lionel Blais said...

How about bringing your laptop to class, loading your page and then clicking "here"?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Andrew, I have solved the problem. I downloaded the aria from YouTube and I can play it even though I do not have internet access in the lecture [because I am not a member of the faculty and do not have an account.] So I shall indeed play [a part] of the aria!

O A said...

You needn't go to that much trouble. A link in the comments of youtube should suffice =]