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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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




Total Pageviews

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

LUCKY SEVEN

I am in Paris, and here is Lecture Seven in my series on Kant's Critique of Pure Reason.  Enjoy!

7 comments:

Steven Pittz said...

I would not expect you to take time away from vacation in Paris to answer, but I thought I would repost a comment I made on the youtube clip of the 6th lecture and hope for a response. I have not viewed the 7th lecture, and perhaps you will get to this later, but in case you don't, here it is:

Why is Wolff so sure that the notion of individuals as the law-givers of nature undermines his ethical theory? All of the renderings of the Categorical Imperative (which Kant says are all equivalent) seem to me to be capable of being read as applying to an individual by him/herself (with the possible exception of the Kingdom of Ends rendering, but still, every individual is an "end in themselves")
Therefore, the rule for every moral act would be discoverable by every person individually, without the need for concerning oneself with the existence of others. Duty would call, so to speak, regardless of whether others truly existed. We may assume they exist if we wish, but we don't need to know they do.
I have to think Wolff has thought of this...what am I missing here?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

The first part of Lecture 7 even is devoted to this question. After you have watched it, let me know whether I have answered your question.

Michael Llenos said...

Dr. Wolff,
Is it me or is there an orange tint in your last lecture? It looks like you're giving your lecture in a class room on the planet of Mars. Or maybe I just have orange jaundice? You can't fool us, Dr. Wolff! Your escape to Paris (after lecture 9), if Trump wins, is really just subterfuge for a determined relocation to the red planet! Have a safe trip. Try not to run into Arnold or Cohagen....

Michael Llenos said...

Dr. Wolff,
I think you made a comment in one of the past two lectures that Kant's priority in morality was between individual conscious beings and not between concious beings and rocks or trees or nature. That made me wonder how people like Emerson and Thoreau could espouse a philosophy based on Kant's ideas and yet be totally supportive of environmentalism? I believe you said Kantian ethical values embraced people over nature.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

There is an odd tinge in the background. I have no idea why! As for Kant and Emerson, Kant's moral theory strikes me as completely incompatible with anything but instrumental environmentalism. You are quite correct.

Steven Pittz said...

Dr. Wolff,
After viewing the first 22 minutes of lecture 7, I am still confused about why the problem is insoluble (see first comment above). If we take Kant to be a solipsist, can we not reconcile his ethical theory and epistemology? I.e., an individual doesn't have obligations to "others", he/she has an obligation to obey the moral law that he/she discovered. Also, we don't need to RECOGNIZE others as ends and lawgivers, we just need to TREAT them as ends. We don't have to know they exist, we only have to obey the moral law ourselves and treat whatever "others" there are in the apparent world as if they are doing the same.

Of course this answer may be unsatisfactory insofar as we could come up with a strong argument against solipsism, but I leave that aside for now.

p.s. While it is probably true that some viewers are "dropping" out as more lectures go by, I suspect there is a large portion, like myself, that are just too busy to watch them as they come up. Many of us may get to them eventually, that's the beauty of youtube! And thank you very much for the lectures. I feel like I'm back in grad school again.
Steve

Daniel Langlois said...

'If we take Kant to be a solipsist, ..'

This is a query about whether or not there are flaws in Kant's theory that demonstrate that he does not necessarily escape the charge of solipsism. The idea, I think, is that if noumena are taken away from Kant's theory, or are doubted, then everything I understand, including all objects, places and other people, become mere characters within my active mind. So, the question is asked, what are the convincing arguments against noumenal solipsism? It seems that Kant has ruled out the only ways that theoretical or instrumental reasoning could supply authoritative reasons to act!

Kant's answer, I think, is that actually, the natural world up close seems to be distressingly messy and full of holes. Kant denies theoretical reason all insight into the supersensible (against various stripes of rationalism).

The question here was to be about 'other things', and what their existence meant. But first, 'my existence' means..what? Well, my existence means 'reason is put at odds with itself because it is constrained.' The metaphysical facts about the ultimate nature of things in themselves must remain a mystery to us. Kant thinks that the general human capacity for resolving, through reflection, the question of what one is to do, has to involve letting pure practical reason guide some of our beliefs.