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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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, February 24, 2021

MY POSSIBLE COLUMBIA COURSE

Several of you have asked whether I could record and post my lectures in my proposed Columbia course if in fact it actually comes to pass. I am flattered by the request but I am afraid I think it would be a bad mistake. Let me explain why. A classroom is or ought to be a protected space where students can explore ideas, ask questions, make comments, and in general open themselves up in ways that they might not wish to have recorded for all time and preserved in the cloud. If I were to record and post my classroom lectures, the students would cease to be students and would become an audience. Some years ago I watched a few lectures delivered at Harvard to an adoring mob of students by Michael Sandel and I think I commented on this blog that it seemed to me to be a very sophisticated form of stand-up comedy, not a classroom at all.

 

I feel badly about this because I have enjoyed enormously recording lectures on ideological critique, the thought of Karl Marx, the thought of Sigmund Freud, and Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.  The Kant lectures especially have found an international audience and have brought me many interesting questions and comments from viewers around the world.

 

If I do get to teach the course, perhaps when it is over I can record some lectures on Marcuse to complement my Marx and Freud lectures.

12 comments:

s. wallerstein said...

Sure, a few lectures on Marcuse would be welcome as would be a couple of blog posts on him if that is easier for you.

L. F. Cooper said...

The main lectures in Sandel's "Justice" course, which I watched some videos of a long time ago, are basically a performance. I think that's ok *provided* that people understand that's what it is. Students signing up for the course in pre-Covid days knew the main lectures were held in Sanders Theater, that hundreds of students were enrolled, and also that there were discussion sections. It's a completely different thing than a course on Marx, Freud, and Marcuse that will probably have 30 students at most, I'm guessing. It shouldn't be recorded for the reasons Prof Wolff states (and other reasons). As I said in my previous comment, we've been through this issue on this blog before. When Prof Wolff announced that he wd be teaching w Todd Gitlin, we had this same discussion here.

Anonymous said...

Have you read Ernest Gellner's The Psychoanalytic Movement? I am curious as to how accurate you think it is.

Anonymous said...

I post as Anonymous because I can't remember passwords. I am tom_llewellyn@yahoo.com.

Robert Paul Wolff said...

Tom Llewellyn, I have not read it. If you have, I would be interested in your take on it.

L.F. Cooper said...

I haven't read much secondary literature on Freud. I have read Paul Roazen's Freud: Political and Social Thought, but no longer have a copy b.c the pb fell apart. It's a very careful and, as I recall, not overly critical take. Roazen went on to write a bunch of other books, incl. Freud and his Followers. Jeffrey Abramson also wrote a book on Freud's social/political thought but I haven't read it.

For those interested in Marx/Freud/Marcuse who may want a secondary take before (or after) plowing through the originals, it's possible that a very selective dip into Frank Manuel and Fritzie Manuel, Utopian Thought in the Western World (Belknap/Harvard U. Press, 1979) would be worthwhile, esp. chapter 34 (the last chapter) on "Freudo-Marxism".

Last suggestion (for now), Fred Weinstein and Gerald Platt, The Wish to Be Free (U Cal Press, 1969, pb 1973), blurbed by Talcott Parsons on the back cover as "among the very best attempts to integrate psychoanalytic theory with sociology and history."

L.F. Cooper said...

P.s. To forestall possible outraged comments, I know Marx hated the utopian socialists and that Freud was in many respects an anti-utopian. One can rest assured that the Manuels also knew that; their book is a long, sweeping survey (to which some reviewer probably applied the word "magisterial"), and they put a lot of diverse stuff in it.

Anonymous said...

Gellner's book is subtitled The Cunning of Unreason, a very insightful summing up of Freud in four words. The book is highly critical of Freud, not for its philosophy of human nature (close to Nietzsche and probably right), but for his claims to cure (semi-cure?)neurotic people. Gellner cites much evidence challenging psychoanalysis as a cure and as scientific. He has great insights on Plato, Hume, and Nietzsche as a background to Freud. Gellner was a philosophy professor before becoming a social anthropologist at Cambridge.

L.F. Cooper said...

Tom Llewellyn wrote that he posts as Anonymous b.c he can't remember passwords.

A password isn't necessary to post non-anonymously. Choose "name/URL" option, type whatever name you prefer, check the "I'm not a robot" box. Sometimes the system will make you do the "pick out the bikes, vehicles, street lights etc." thing, but after a while it will recognize you and you generally won't have to do that.

tom llewellyn said...

Thank you!

L.F. Cooper said...

sure, no problem

Anonymous said...

You could always fuzz out faces from the videos.