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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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 23, 2017

A LAZY AFTERNOON

I just spent several hours watching this lecture by Noam Chomsky on Linguistics at the science branch of the University of Paris, which is just next to the Institut de Monde Arabe near my Paris Apartment in the 5th Arrondissement.  The session was two hours long, recorded four years ago, and Noam spoke for about an hour and twenty minutes.  He was, as you might expect, quiet, reserved, precise, and intelligent.  It is always a delight to spend time with a clear, powerful mind.  I already was familiar with much that he was saying because I recently read a book he co-authored [which is now packed away, so I cannot pull it off my shelves and tell you the title.]  I remember him almost sixty years ago when he came to Harvard as a Junior Fellow and I was a young Instructor.  Like all of us, he has aged, but his mind has not changed.  I know we all look to him for political commentary these days, but this is the work for which he will be remembered centuries from now.  It was a welcome relief from the chaos and disaster of our public world.

2 comments:

Chris said...

In 2003 Charlie Rose asked Chomsky "if this was your last day on earth, would you like what is mentioned about you to focus on your political works or linguistic contributions".

Chomsky, shrugging and laughing said "to tell you the truth I honestly don't care".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6IBbViUzVU

Ed Barreras said...

Linguistics is a fascinating field, not least because of the partisan rancor that every so often erupts into public view. Inevitably this involves some linguist writing a book or article claiming that Chomskyan genearative grammar has been decisively refuted and that no one really takes it seriously anymore, and then the acolytes of Chomsky responding that the author of said book or article is a charlatan and a hack who isn't worthy of the letters behind his or her name. Given this state of affairs, I have doubts that Chomsky will be remembered, as he would like to be, as the founder of a new science and not as a philosopher of language in the rationalist tradition of Descartes. But what do I know?

A few years ago a film was released in which interviews with Chomsky on his linguistic theories were played over animated visualizations of those theories done by the interviewer/filmmaker. The film was called "Is the Man Who is Tall Happy?" I highly recommend it. The animation really breathes vitality into Chomsky's ideas. And there are some personal insights as well. At one point the interviewer expresses frustration with Chomsky's famed imperiousness, which can veer toward dismissive intolerance.