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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Monday, February 4, 2019

YOU SAID, SO I SAY


My posts in the past day or two have prompted comments on a wide variety of topics, so here is an omnium gatherum of responses.

To Andrew C:  We are feeding our birds sunflower hearts.  I too was astonished to see a robin at the feeder, but there it was, and followed by a number of others.  Here in North Carolina I saw something completely new to me:  a huge flock of robins gathering on the golf course outside our window [don’t ask] and then as a group flying away.  I had no idea robins did that.  Susie and I are not birders – we do not have life lists, for example.  But we have actually been on three birding expeditions:  a trip to the Asa Wright house in Trinidad, a cruise off Baja California, and a birding safari to East Africa.  At our house in Western Mass, we had a bird feeder, and I counted maybe 25 species of birds over the years, including even a flock of wild turkeys that showed up several times, and a magnificent cock pheasant that paraded around on our back patio. 

To Marcel Proust:  I planned a third book on Marx but never wrote it, even though I did research into such arcane topics as the history of the development of index numbers.  Several of my unpublished writings deal with what would have been the subject of that book, including “The Future of Socialism,” “The Indexing Problem,” “A Unified Reading of Marx,” and “The Thought of Karl Marx,” all archived at box.net, accessible via the link on the top of this page of my blog.

To S. Wallerstein:  If I were a bigger man, I would not mind that Vegara beat me to it, but alas I am not a bigger man.  I am reminded of the experience of my old friend and sometime mentor in things Economic, Sam Bowles.  Marx claimed that there is a tendency for the rate of profit to fall because as production becomes more capital intensive, there is less exploitable labor, which, he thought, was the ultimate source of profit.  Sam proved a very lovely theorem showing that in a standard Sraffian model, a capital-intensive innovation in production that gave its discoverer a temporary super-profit would, when it had been adopted by all his competitors, result in an unambiguous rise, not fall, in the rate of profit.  When he announced this to his graduate class, prior to publishing, a student said, “Sam, Okishio proved that years ago.”  Sam was reduced to publishing a paper in the Cambridge Journal of Economics with the title “A New Proof of Okishio’s Theorem.”   Not at all the same thing!

2 comments:

s. wallerstein said...

It's not that you're not a bigger man.

You're someone who might be called "almost famous" (that was the title of a movie about a rock band about 20 years ago). Most people like me are definitively not famous and are never going to be famous and we realize that fairly early in life. Others are clearly famous and street are named after them: Martin Luther King, Salvador Allende, etc. Others are famous among all cultured people: Ludwig Wittgenstein, Jean Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, James Joyce, Leonard Bernstein, etc.

Now you're almost a famous philosopher. You're close enough to being famous that at times you function like a famous person: everybody who reads knows that Camus, not Sartre, wrote The Plague and Camus justly wanted credit for that.

Not famous people like me long ago gave up on hoping that we'd be credited and applauded for whatever good and original ideas we come up with from time to time. No one cares, we realize.

Almost famous people still hope that they'll be credited and applauded for their good and original ideas. So it's not that you're not a big enough man: it's your situation as an almost famous person that makes it harder for you to accept that someone had the idea before you.

F Lengyel said...
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