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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Saturday, January 28, 2017

AN INTERESTING THOUGHT

Kamran Heiss [is that a real person or is it a nom de web?] suggests that I might offer "a lecture series on philosophy in the age of Trump. Exploring philosophical approaches to authoritarianism, fascism, totalitarianism, racism. Drawing on resources like the Frankfurt School, Marcuse, Hannah Arendt, Horkheimer, Marx etc."  I am, as it happens, woefully underprepared for such an effort, but the suggestion did make me reflect that we are now in an historical moment that cries out for the particular combination of talents and interests of the Frankfurt School.  Their genius, of course, was the bringing together of the large scale systematic analysis of Marx with the depth psychology of Freud, in such works as The Authoritarian Personality and Eros and Civilization.  

Each day, I find myself shuttling back and forth between my efforts to get a handle on the structural unfoldings that have given us a far-right proto-fascist regime in Washington and my struggle to anatomize the infantile psychological behavior of Trump.

I don't really know whether we need more than the most superficial understanding of what we face today to decide what we ought to do, but however this moment in history turns out, it is likely to produce an extraordinary spate of books [assuming they are permitted to be published.]

4 comments:

s. wallerstein said...

You knew Marcuse, I assume, since you coauthored a book with him.

Maybe you could blog a bit about Marcuse and his relevance today.

Ed Barreras said...

The Frankfurt School is said to have been especially influential for the 60s counter-culture. If this is true, it may be because of mere temporal proximity (i.e., the Frankfurt School was then considered cutting-edge). Or it may be because their particular type of analysis was, for whatever reasons, well-suited to those turbulent times. I fear we may be entering another such era of turbulence.

A day or two before the Women's Marches I predicted they would be much larger than anticipated (on this blog -- you can check). I foresaw this because, from my perch here on the internet, I was able to gauge just how much white-hot rage there is among my extended group of friends and acquaintances (and acquaintances' acquaintances). Those who'd previously been apolitical were itching to get into the streets, and those who'd been political were in a fury. Now that minority-president T***p is methodically imposing his agenda via dictatorial fiat, I can see that fire steadily rising below the pot.

s. wallerstein said...

In the 60's Marcuse provided an intellectual and philosophical rationale for what many students felt on a gut level. "Everybody" read One-Dimensional Man. People also read Erich Fromm. However, I had never heard of the Frankfurt School back then or of Adorno or Benjamin.

If you didn't live through the 60's, my recollection is that what moved most student protestors was a sense of having been duped. Most of us were middle-class and we had grown up in the 50's with the illusion that the U.S. represented the good guys, that the American president never lied (yes, we believed that), that we were the free world, that America was just and the land of the free. The War in Viet Nam and the civil rights movement opened our eyes to the fact that such was not the case. The fear of being drafted also concentrated our minds maravellously.

The anger of realizing that we had been lied to and brainwashed since we were small kids fueled our protests. I will never again hate and scorn another leader like I did Lyndon Johnson (hey, hey, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?), certainly not Trump, since by now I see lying and imperialistic governments with a certain rational distance.

Anyway, we can thank Herbert Marcuse, who saw things with the lucidity and rational distance of a trained philosophical mind and as an outsider, a German-Jewish refugee, with explaining to us what we grasped in a confused, early Bob Dylan-type way.

Ed Barreras said...

S wallerstein, Thank you for that recollection. I hope we all make it through these dark times.