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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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Saturday, March 25, 2023


I have spent the past several days preparing my next lecture on The Use and Abuse of Formal Methods in  Political Philosophy. Monday, from 2 PM to 3:30 PM Eastern Time US, I shall be giving the first of several lectures on Game Theory.The lectures will be on zoom and the zoom program we are using can handle up to 100 participants. Since I expect only about 10 people to participate from the UNC philosophy department, there is room for others should they wish to attend. Only the UNC students will be able to ask questions, but all the others are welcome to attend as listeners. Tomorrow or Monday morning I will post a link. After I have finished expounding the elements of Game Theory, which may take me two 1 1/2 hour lectures, I will follow that by a formal analysis of the central argument in John Rawls's famous book, A Theory of Justice.


Anonymous said...

Maybe I missed it, but will these lectures go on-line at some point? How closely will they follow The Use and Abuse ... on

Forgive me if you've already explained all of this. A quick search didn't turn it up.

admin said...

Your blog posts are always interesting to read through. Keep it up.
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s. wallerstein said...

I'm generally busy at that time in the afternoon, so I hope that you can post the lectures in Youtube.

That way we'll all be able to listen to them, whatever our daily schedules may be.

Marc Susselman said...

I indicated in a prior post comment that I have been reading “In Defense Of Elitism,” by Joel Stein. I am about ½ way through, and came across the following passage, which I find very cogent and witty, and worth publicizing:

“A 2010 study found that 30 percent of college students had narcissistic personality traits, which is 50 percent more than in the early 1980s. The most common dream job in my son’s first-grade class wasn’t doctor or firefighter, it was YouTuber, which is an especially lame dream since it’s something they could have done right then. It’s not because I live in LA, either; it was true for my nephew’s class in New Jersey. It is not only young people: my mom’s email signature is “To thine own self be true,” which is Shakespearean for “Fuck everyone else.” Once you consider yourself a special person, it’s a small step to believe you’re special at everything. We confidently boast to our TV screens that we could have made a better decision than the coach of an NFL team or the president of the United States. This is not at all true. Since 2000, during each party’s first presidential debate, I try to calculate if I would do a better job than anyone onstage. Of the sixty-five candidates, I’ve guessed I could govern better than four of them, and only one of those four became president.

“People’s overestimation of their abilities has been compounded by the fact that technology reduced barriers to entry. On a screen, a blogger’s thoughts on Middle Eastern affairs look similar to a New York Times column written by a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. The punditry of Scott [Adams, the author of ‘Dilbert’] broadcasts from his phone looks the same as analysis from a former White House employee on CNN. In an astonishing display of hubris, a lot of people post homemade pornography. I cannot imagine how confident you have to be to assume strangers want to see me having sex. I know that no one wants to see me having sex. Not even Cassandra, based on how quickly she turns out the lights.


Marc Susselman said...

“Narcissism has been destroying truth. Liberals have been dangerously eroding the word ‘truth’ when they use it instead of ‘perspective’ or ‘side of the story’ in the phrase ‘sharing your truth.’ On college campuses, believing in science itself is questioned because it has been used by those in power to oppress others: phrenology to justify racism, nutrition to shame fat people, and psychology to institutionalize gays. In its place, professors teach truths based on personal narratives that can’t be questioned by people outside the author’s tribe because they cannot know the truth of that group’s experience. … It was originally called perspectivism by Friedrich Nietzsche and it states that due to the limits of our dumb brains, we can only see from our point of view and not from an objective position, so truth is unknowable in a practical sense. Everything is equally true and false. Every fact is a cat in Schrödinger’s box. Or as Scott writes in his book, in an aphorism Nietzsche would admire: ‘Facts don’t matter. What matters is how you feel.’

“That idea has smashed truth into enough snowflake-shaped shards for everyone to have their own. I know how easy it is to sledgehammer truth. Not because I’ve watched it nearly destroy journalism. Because I’ve met the people gleefully doing the demolition.”

Thoughts worth pondering.

s. wallerstein said...

Nietzsche never said that everything is equally true and false nor would he have admired
"Facts don't matter. What matters is how you feel".

Marc Susselman said...

s. wallerstein,

Although I have read some Nietzsche, I by no means claim to be a Nietzschean expert, and have read less of his writing than you have. That said, the following is an excerpt from the Wikipedia article on “perspectivism”:

“Perspectivism (German: Perspektivismus; also called perspectivalism) is the epistemological principle that perception of and knowledge of something are always bound to the interpretive perspectives of those observing it. While perspectivism does not regard all perspectives and interpretations as being of equal truth or value, it holds that no one has access to an absolute view of the world cut off from perspective.[1] Instead, all such viewing occurs from some point of view which in turn affects how things are perceived. Rather than attempt to determine truth by correspondence to things outside any perspective, perspectivism thus generally seeks to determine truth by comparing and evaluating perspectives among themselves.[1] Perspectivism may be regarded as an early form of epistemological pluralism,[2] though in some accounts includes treatment of value theory,[3] moral psychology,[4] and realist metaphysics.[5]

. . .
“In his works, Nietzsche makes a number of statements on perspective which at times contrast each other throughout the development of his philosophy. Nietzsche's perspectivism begins by challenging the underlying notions of 'viewing from nowhere', 'viewing from everywhere', and 'viewing without interpreting' as being absurdities.[25] Instead, all viewing is attached to some perspective, and all viewers are limited in some sense to the perspectives at their command.[27] In The Genealogy of Morals he writes:
Let us be on guard against the dangerous old conceptual fiction that posited a 'pure, will-less, painless, timeless knowing subject'; let us guard against the snares of such contradictory concepts as 'pure reason', 'absolute spirituality', 'knowledge in itself': these always demand that we should think of an eye that is completely unthinkable, an eye turned in no particular direction, in which the active and interpreting forces, through which alone seeing becomes seeing something, are supposed to be lacking; these always demand of the eye an absurdity and a nonsense. There is only a perspective seeing, only a perspective knowing; and the more affects we allow to speak about one thing, the more eyes, different eyes, we can use to observe one thing, the more complete will our 'concept' of this thing, our 'objectivity' be.[28]
— Friedrich Nietzsche, The Genealogy of Morals (1887; III:12), transl. Walter Kaufmann


Marc Susselman said...

“In this, Nietzsche takes a contextualist approach which rejects any God's-eye view of the world.[29] This has been further linked to his notion of the death of God and the dangers of a resulting relativism. However, Nietzsche's perspectivism itself stands in sharp contrast to any such relativism.[3] In outlining his perspectivism, Nietzsche rejects those who claim everything to be subjective, by disassembling the notion of the subject as itself a mere invention and interpretation.[30] He further states that, since the two are mutually dependent on each other, the collapse of the God's-eye view causes also the notion of the thing-in-itself to fall apart with it. Nietzsche views this collapse to reveal, through his genealogical project, that all that has been considered non-perspectival knowledge, the entire tradition of Western metaphysics, has itself been only a perspective.[27][29] His perspectivism and genealogical project are further integrated into each other in addressing the psychological drives that underlie various philosophical programs and perspectives, as a form of critique.”

This seems to be consistent with Stein’s point that belief in perspectivism vitiates any claim that anyone can have knowledge of objective truth, because there is no such thing as objective truth. This philosophy lends itself, particularly in the area of politics and world affairs, to the kinds of distortions which Trump and his supporters have engaged in, and in which Putin and his allies are engaging in.

s. wallerstein said...


This is kind of cheap pop "philosophy" on your part and that of Stein, which I will not bother to contest.

Nietzsche has nothing to do with Trump nor with Putin.

Get serious for once.

By the way, you're radically off topic.

You're a good lawyer, no doubt, but otherwise you are a clown.

Marc Susselman said...

A clown?? From the person who has criticized me for allegedly engaging in superfluous insults?

aaall said...

"On college campuses, believing in science itself is questioned because it has been used by those in power to oppress others: phrenology to justify racism, nutrition to shame fat people, and psychology to institutionalize gays."

"Since 2000, during each party’s first presidential debate, I try to calculate if I would do a better job than anyone onstage. Of the sixty-five candidates, I’ve guessed I could govern better than four of them, and only one of those four became president."

If the rest of the book is like the above, I'm not sure it's worth the time. Better then sixty-one would be hubris but four? Just what does he consider "governing" to be?

Phrenology dates from the days of phlogiston and Newton did some alchemy. Who and on what campuses?

Prof. Wolff, thanks for the heads up.

LFC said...

I have no idea who Joel Stein is, but only an idiot would write that a blogger's thoughts "look similar" on a screen to those of a NY Times columnist. Anyone immediately knows when he or she is reading an "established" outlet on a screen and when not.

Marc, it's not hard to get your own blog, and that way you cd stop cluttering up this space w this stuff.

Marc Susselman said...


What other "stuff" are you referring to? Like my detailed analysis of what constitutes protected free speech by public employees>?

Or like your "stuff" about comparing Dangerous Liaisons to Valmont?

David Palmeter said...

I think the comments have gone off-topic.

Marc Susselman said...

s. wallerstein,

I suggest you read this: “The The post-truth era of Trump is just what Nietzsche predicted” at

I suppose the author, a lecturer in Philosophy at the University of London, is also a “clown.”

Marc Susselman said...

And this:

“Nietzsche, Putin and the spirit of Russia,” at

And this:

“Putin’s War Has Approval From Nietzsche, Hegel and Krishna,” at

And this:

“Nietzsche, Putin & the Decline of the West.” at

I suppose they’re all “clowns” also.

Marc Susselman said...

s. walleestein,

What, no glib response to the links I posted above?

Well, who is the "clown" now?

aaall said...

Forget the long dead white man. This is all one needs to ponder:

s.w., I was recently reading about the Pacific War - seems to have been quite a thing. Is it currently noted in Chile?

Anonymous said...

The trouble with village idiots is that they become aggrieved if they're ignored but they're doubly aggrieved when people don't agree with them when they offer their opinions on everything under the sun.

Achim Kriechel (A.K.) said...

I really hope that someone will record the Zoom conference and publish it on YouTube. Provided that all agree to be seen and heard there.

s. wallerstein said...


The Pacific War: for sure, one of the most important Chilean national holidays, May 21, celebrates the naval battle of Iquique and the so-called heroic gesture of Arturo Prat, a naval commander who sacrificed his life for "la patria".

I would also note that Chile and Bolivia do not have diplomatic relations because Bolivia demands "una salida al mar", that is, "an outlet to the sea", a port on the Pacific coast under Bolivian sovereignty to compensate for the sea coast that Chile conquered from Bolivia during the war. Bolivia goods can go through Chilean ports at present, but the ports are Chilean.