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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Friday, October 13, 2017

BRIEF EXPLICATION

In my Credo, the Lone Rider and the Barn-Raising Community are intended somewhat as what Max Weber calls Ideal Types.  They are meant to capture in simple images two fundamentally different ways of viewing the world.  Obviously, it would take hundreds of pages to spell them out.

Here is an exercise I have sometimes wanted to build a course around.  Take a simple tool -- let us say a hatchet.  Now start tracing back every single thing that some previous persons did in order to make that hatchet possible.  Imagine tracing back the discovery of iron ore, the processes of smelting and forging, the elaborate and ever expanding network of practical and theoretical knowledge presupposed by the production of that hatchet.  Include the language used by the people involved to communicate with one another, to pass on the knowledge.  Think of the tools used to produce the hatchet, and the tools used to produce those tools, and so on and on.  No one ever does anything all by him or herself [never mind the social construction of reality involved in defining the gender roles invoked by the phrase "his or herself."]

5 comments:

Jacob T. Levy said...

A fine old Smithian/ market liberal/ libertarian point about the wonders of the division of labor!

;-)

Jacob T. Levy said...

(After all, it was Rousseau, not Smith, who had fantasies of isolated self-sufficiency and autarky.)

Mike Doyle said...

That reminds me of the essay by Leonard Read "I the pencil"

http://www.disciplenations.org/media/I-Pencil_Read1.pdf

Robert Paul Wolff said...

or Daniel DeFoe

s. wallerstein said...

A Marxist-Leninist friend once explained the whole capitalist-imperialist system to me
by talking about my cup of coffee: where the coffee comes from, who owns the coffee plantations, the wages the workers there are paid, how the coffee beans are processed in
the U.S. (at least back then), how coffee is marketed and advertised in the U.S., how the waiter in the café where we were sitting earns his living (through tips) and his standard of living, how and why middle class white students like us had the leisure time to sit around in a café sipping coffee and analyzing the world.