My Stuff

Coming Soon:

Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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, August 31, 2016


OK, folks.  Here is the link to the first Kant lecture.  I would be very interested in any commnents or suggestions.


s. wallerstein said...

A fascinating introduction.

I love general background and biographical information, and since I fear that your lectures on the Critique itself are going to be way over my head, I welcome and prefer all historical and cultural accounts of Kant and the philosophical world he lived in.

I actually did buy the Critique and tried to read it, but at some point I hit a stone wall and gave up. Maybe your lectures will stimulate me to continue, but I suspect that it's too abstract and not centered enough in reality as I experience for me to continue. For example, if properly goaded, I could most likely make my way through Marx's Capital because Marx explains and clarifies reality as I experience it.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Don't give up yet! The sexy stuff is coming up. :)

s. wallerstein said...

Thank you for your encouragement.

I will listen to all your lectures with great interest, although I have my doubts if I'll get any farther in the reading of the Critique itself.

Jordan said...

I'm enjoying this lecture, and looking forward to the rest!

Your little aside about Beattie led me to look him up. I had heard of his essay on truth, and always heard Beattie made fun of (surely justifiably) for his feeble "critique" of Hume. But it turns out he was also something of an accomplished poet, and that the essay on truth also contains an early critique of the racism that (as I'm sure you know) peppers some of Hume's writings. So he wasn't all bad!

Robert Paul Wolff said...

That is quite true. In fact, he was far more enlightened than either Hume or Kant, so perhaps I should cut him some slack.

LFC said...

Watched the first 25 minutes or so.

At one point you said that there is very little relation between 19th-cent. (post-Kant) philosophy and 17th and 18th cent. Are you going to return to that theme at some point and elaborate on it?

Re Leibniz: around the point at which I stopped you said that his view of the interaction (or lack thereof) between monads was peculiar. Isn't the idea of monads, as you described it, itself sort of peculiar?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

To put it mildly! The whole theory of the monadology is rather odd. But very elegant, mathematically.

wallyverr said...

I thought the first lecture went very well. Your voice was easily understandable, and I think it is useful (if you can remember) to repeat questions, which may not be picked up so well by the microphone.

I have some sympathy with C I Lewis focussing on the second edition of CPR. Do philosophers realise how odd it is, by the current standards of English literature editing, to interleave the texts of the two different editions? For a readable essay on changing attitudes on editing Shakespeare, see Rosenbaum's New Yorker essay from a decade or so ago,

In a nutshell, the gold-standard Arden edition of Hamlet in the 1982 second edition drew on the various surviving 17th century versions to construct a single text, whereas the Arden 3rd edition of 2005 provides three separate texts (over two physical volumes, with lots of commentary).

I'm not saying that philosophers' editorial practice is necessarily wrong, but it might be sensible to explicitly defend it, given changing fashions in other text-oriented fields of the humanities.

Otherwise, why not publish Hume's original Treatise with the two Enquiries on Human Understanding and on Morals, and the less-discussed Dissertation on Passions, interleaved into the three parts?

Ted Talbot said...

In one of the passages from Leibniz's correspondence with Clarke you quote in your book, L. states "there is no motion, when there is no change that can be observed," i.e. (in your words): ...any difference, in order to be a difference, must make a difference in the observable world." (p. 6) Newton, on the other hand, insisted on the physical (or is it metaphysical?) difference between inertial motion and absolute rest (rest relative to absolute space), despite this difference not being observable (only rotation and acceleration are, through their observable effects).So "true" motion need not make an observable difference, while relative motion does. (In the late 19th century, Ernst Mach will attempt an empiricist purge of Newtonian physics.) So the divide between the empiricists'and rationalists' camps is not quite as rigid as your talk may have suggested, at least as far as their types of arguments is conerned.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

That sounds right, but recall what I said when I began -- that I was presenting Kant's view of the dispute, not the view that later scholarship has crafted.

Lourdes Marie said...

Professor, thank you for the clear lesson! I am a student in Paris and our first semester was very Kant-focused (as someone who had switched from IR to political philosophy, I was in for a crash course). I'm trying to go back and refine what I know, so this was definitely great to find.

Question one: why don't you like Hegel? Can I find that in your blog? haha. Now for the serious questions:

I'm not sure how relevant this is to the debates between Leibnez and Newton, but what is the role of the individual in Leibniz's view, since there's no "substance"? Is speaking about an individual/subject too soon for this debate? I'm reading Louis Dumont's book on individualism and was reminded of the individual in the world/out of the world divide... But I digress.

I'm watching this at 130 in the morning, so please forgive me if the questions are ridiculous.

assertion of the causal maxim-- I look forward to hearing more about that! Will there be an analysis of Hume's skepticism also? Or should I prepare that in advance?

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Lourdes Marie, I shall be in Paris from October 19-29th Would you like to have coffee at my little cafe in Place Maubert to talk about Kant? I shall not be talking much about Hume -- no time.

TheDudeDiogenes said...

The wonders of the internet - Lourdes Marie happening upon this intellectual sustenance just when needed is the kind of serendipity that absolutely tickles my fancy! That the good Professor lives part-time and has offered to meet is simply gravy. Delicious!

Unknown said...

Professor, it would be my pleasure! Thank you so much for the invite. I'll brush up on my readings. Let me know the time and place.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

send me an email message at

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