My Stuff

https://umass-my.sharepoint.com/:f:/g/personal/rwolff_umass_edu/EkxJV79tnlBDol82i7bXs7gBAUHadkylrmLgWbXv2nYq_A?e=UcbbW0

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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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





Total Pageviews

Sunday, May 22, 2022

TRANSLATIONS

Thank you, Stephen Darling, for the accurate translation. Taking all in all, I think we can say that he finds me lame, silly, trifling, otiose, insignificant, uninteresting, trivial, simply not worth paying attention to.  Which calls to mind Pooh-Bah’s remark in The Mikado when he is handed a small bag of coins as a bribe: “another insult, and by the feel of it, a light one.”

 

I was never big in France. Now, Croatia, that is another matter…  Or as the head of the little traveling acting troupe says of himself, in the wonderful old movie To Be or Not to Be, I am “world-famous in Poland”

Friday, May 20, 2022

TRANSLATION

Marc asked for a translation. Here is my feeble effort:


Dear Sir, I have just come from examining a bit your work: it is pretty silly; we do not need silly American thinkers (we already have enough problems with our own thinkers, influenced by the Americans); you can read or reread Tocqueville (and Marx) and leave this country, please, best regards Jean-Pierre Joffrin 


As I say, somewhat less charming in English. Oh well, he gets his wish. We have sold our apartment and our visit in early June may well be our last. In any event, I seem to have made almost no impression on French philosophers so he need not worry.

TROLLS ARE MORE CHARMING IN FRENCH

 I woke up this morning to find the following email message in my inbox:


Cher Monsieur, je viens juste d'examiner un peu votre travail : c'est (assez) nul ; nous n'avons pas besoin de penseurs américains nuls (nous avons déjà assez de problèmes avec nos penseurs, influencés par les américains) ; vous pouvez lire ou relire Tocqueville (et Marx) et quitter ce pays, merci, bien cordialement, Jean-Pierre Joffrin

Susie and I leave for our last trip to Paris two weeks from today. Not everyone in that lovely city is eagerly awaiting our return!
...

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

AN INTERESTING IDEA

I was idly watching a cable news panel discussion about the Buffalo grocery store massacre when one of the panel members said something that I had either forgotten or else never knew, namely that the California ban on carrying weapons openly was passed while Reagan was governor in response to the appearance of a group of Black Panthers openly and legally carrying weapons at the state capitol.  It got me to thinking…

SOOTHING THOUGHTS ON A SUNNY DAY

Yesterday was primary day here in North Carolina and at about 11 o’clock in the morning Susie and I set out to vote. We left Carolina Meadows by the south exit, turned left on Whippoorwill Lane, then right on Farrington, right again on Lystra Road, until we reached the North Chatham Elementary School.  It was a brilliant sunny day already in the 80s, and when we pulled into a handicap parking place, a cheerful, helpful man offered to let us vote from our cars. As his assistant went off to get the ballots, we chatted. He said it had been pretty busy – already perhaps 175 people – and he expected three or four hundred before the day was done.  He told me he is a retired forester who worked in Duke Forest for 35 years. It was as peaceful a scene has one could possibly imagine. There were no picketers standing just outside the limit line, no self-appointed poll judges there to harass Black voters.

 

Chatham County is one of 100 counties in North Carolina and I imagine there may be as many as 50,000 or 100,000 polling places nationwide.  The experience briefly gave me hope that representative democracy, such as it is, may survive here in the United States.

 

There were only four races on the ballot – three local races for Chatham County officials, about which I had no opinion, and a highly contested race for a Democratic nominee for the Senate seat being vacated by Republican Richard Burr.  Susie and I voted for Cheri Beasley, formerly the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court. The last report I saw, she had 85% of the vote so perhaps it was not absolutely necessary that we got out to vote, but I am glad we did.

Monday, May 16, 2022

REFUSING TO GO GENTLE INTO THAT GOOD NIGHT

I have been absent from this site for almost a week, not because the affairs of the world have ceased to weigh upon me but because I have been obsessed by personal matters so trivial and lacking in larger significance that they seemed not worthy of mention. Still and all, a blog is a web log, hence in the first instance a record of personal thoughts and concerns, so perhaps I should just allude to what has been concerning me. 


There is no exalted way to put this. The people who run Carolina Meadows thought we had bedbugs, which would have required an enormously time-consuming, invasive, and disruptive procedure involving, among other things, raising the temperature in the apartment to 140° for four or five hours! Saturday morning a representative of the extermination company arrived and after inspecting the underside of our bed, announce that we had carpet beetles, not bedbugs! This does not quite rise to the level of a question about Vladimir Putin’s health or the future of American democracy, not to speak of a desperate national shortage of baby formula, but for several days it was all I could think about.

 

Meanwhile, I have been spending the time preparing in my head for the course I shall be teaching in the fall semester at UNC Chapel Hill. I love to teach and I have delivered the opening lecture of that course four or five times in my mind while lying awake in the middle of the night.  As I have mentioned, this is a new course that I have never taught before. In the fall, while I am teaching, I shall be proposing to the philosophy department that the following fall I teach a graduate course on the use and abuse of formal methods in political philosophy. This is a course I taught for the first time 45 years ago. It occurred to me that if the department agrees to this proposal, I will be a few days from my 90th birthday when that second course wraps up. 

 

For some reason, that realization has suddenly worked a marked change in how I think about myself.  I have been almost constantly concerned for the past six months with the limitations on my mobility and physical capacities caused by my Parkinson’s disease and this has cast a pall over everything I can do. But, I reflected, I am almost 90 years old. I am teaching, blogging, caring for my wife, making guest appearances in courses around the country – not bad for someone almost 90!