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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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

NOW AVAILABLE ON YOUTUBE: LECTURES ON THE THOUGHT OF KARL MARX. To view the lectures, go to YouTube and search for Robert Paul Wolff Marx."




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Wednesday, May 16, 2018

WHAT I AM DOING TODAY


This afternoon, I shall give the fifth of six lectures on Plato’s dialogues, this one on the Gorgias.  Out of curiosity, I looked back over my extensive files of the courses I have taught during my long career, and found that I first taught the Gorgias in the Fall of 1955 as a twenty-one year old Teaching Fellow in Harvard’s Philosophy 1.  There were four Teaching Fellows in the course taught by the grand old man of the department, Raphael Demos.  Each of us covered two sections.  In my file for the course was a copy of the mimeographed sheet listing the questions each of us posed to his sections on the mid-term hour examination.  Mister Raymond, Mr. Schiller, and Mr. Chacon asked serious, probing questions, suitable for so elevated a subject.  Then there was me.  Here is my first question:

There once was a rhetorical man
Who said, “Flatter the public I can.”
He boned up on knick-knackery,
All four forms of quackery,
And for Ruler of Athens he ran.

Outline Plato’s theory of true and false arts, and explain how a false politician would use the “knacks” to gain power in a state.

Ah, those were the days.

2 comments:

Charles Pigden said...

I regularly teach this Dialogue as part of my 'Why Be Moral?' course. Obviously this one of Plato's greatest dialogues, though as ever 'Socrates' wins the debate by the kind of sophistical trickery he condemns in his interlocutors. However there is a burning question to which nobody knows the answer. What exactly does the beautician do for his clients to fake the the appearance of what the trainer does for *his* clients? Fake tans is a possibility but another is body shading to give the beautician's clients illusory muscle definition.

I took this to our classics department several years ago but their answers were pretty speculative.

s. wallerstein said...

What other books do you read in the Why Be Moral course?