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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Monday, December 5, 2016

INVINCIBLY IGNORANT

It is said that when the wife of the great logician and philosopher Alfred North Whitehead went to her priest, concerned by her husband's lack of faith, the priest comforted her with a category the Church keeps ready for such cases, saying, "It is all right, Mrs. Whitehead, your husband is invincibly ignorant."

My practise for some years has been to prepare my lunch [no-fat cottage cheese, no-fat yogurt, some sugar, and grapes] and sit on my bed, watching MSNBC as I eat.  Since the election, I have found watching the television news intolerable, so today I switched around with the remote until I came on a Joseph Fiennes 2016 movie, Risen, about a Roman centurion tasked with locating the body of a crucified preacher to quell potentially dangerous rumors that he is the risen Messiah.

After I had finished my lunch, it occurred to me that it had been a very long time since I had read the accounts in the New Testament of the days after the Crucifixion, so I took out my King James Bible and re-read the last chapters of each of the four Gospels.

As I read the familiar stories, my eyes involuntarily filled with tears.  I was deeply -- and, considering that I am an atheist, somewhat mysteriously -- moved.

The late Sidney Morgenbesser, in great pain during his last weeks, is reported to have asked, "Why is God tormenting me this way?  Do you suppose it is because I do not believe in Him?"

Sidney was on to something.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

That sounds like a remake of the movie The Final Inquiry. Oddly enough, Harvey Keitel was in the original, but there was also a remake a number of years ago that had both Max Von Sydow and Dolph Lundgren.

Chris said...

Future blog post? You've defended your anarchism, marxism, voting habits, views of kant, and much more on this blog. But for the past almost decade I've been reading the blog, I can't even recall you defending your atheism.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

It would be an interesting challenge, but it would not be so much a defense as an explanation. It might be interesting.

Chris said...

Personally, I'd love to hear it.

Jim Westrich said...

I have recommended Jose Saramago (the Portugese writer and Nobel Laureate) before but I am going to do it again because I here a similarity in Saramago's voice and yours quite a bit. Saramago's "The Gospel According to Jesus Christ" is something I think you would really enjoy. It is a fairly serious retelling of the Gospels using fairly accurate historical detail (as others have done)fused with Saramago's logical but chatty style and his own recasting of the central plot devices and struggles between Jesus, God, and the Devil. Jesus makes different decisions and thus the book was condemned by the Catholic Church and manyin Portugal but the book contains one of the most moving accounts of the birth of Jesus.

He also retells a good deal of the Old Testament in Cain but that is more comic and shorter. Some of the same themes are there (I won't spoil it).

Jim Westrich said...

Ahh! "Hear" not "here" in line two.

Hatch said...

Although I don't have your level of education, I agree with you about religion, politics, and economics. As Chris said, I would love to hear it.

s. wallerstein said...

It seems very sane to be moved by something which has moved so many other people and which probably were written with the express purpose of moving (and converting) readers and those who listened to it being read.

The Marseillaise moves me, the Internationale moves me, Rule Britannia moves me, God Bless America moves me: they were all composed to move people and they work. As I get older, I give up pretending not to have normal emotional responses to all the stuff that I used to pretend not to be moved by and even convinced myself I was not moved by: from stupid (and sexist) romantic love songs to patriotic anthems to the Bible, but that does not mean that I'm going to be moved by them to march off to war or convert to some childish religious dogma or to fall in love with a stranger across an enchanted room.

David Auerbach said...

http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/10/09/horseshoe-luck/

Jerry Fresia said...

Echoing Chris, I'd love to hear it too.

I read once that Marx, in times of stress - particularly when his painful boils were getting the best of him,
would read Laplace Transforms in French! Another very bright philosopher, in times of great political disappointment,
turns to the exacting NYT's crossword puzzles. I, of lower caliber, watch Hitchens on YouTube, inveigh against theism. I love how he just devours his God fearing opponents.

I have also wondered how you, an atheist, seemed not only to be moved by the bible, but even mesmerized. Pray tell.