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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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

To contact me about organizing, email me at rpwolff750@gmail.com




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Monday, June 5, 2017

THANK YOU

Thank you all for your thoughtful and supportive responses to my anguished confessional post.  This difficult time is testing my customarily sunny disposition.  I have read a good deal about alienation and written a bit about it as well, but it does not come naturally to me.  It seems not to make sense for me to say that I cannot bring myself to give up on a nation I have spent my entire life criticizing.  I think my current mood is powerfully influenced by my age, oddly enough.  It is all very well, when one is young, to say defiantly "This is not my country!  I refuse to take responsibility for it, to be embarrassed by its stupidities, to feel shame at its inhumanity."  But at the end of one's life, it is hard indeed to contemplate the thought that one's sole life cycle has coincided with an historical moment that is cause only for dismay or disgust.

All of us, I imagine, recall the famous lines from William Wordsworth's poem about the French Revolution:

"Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive,
But to be young was very heaven."

What would as great a poet write about these days?

2 comments:

s. wallerstein said...

Your generation of leftwing university professors who taught and supported the campus radicals of the 60's has perhaps the least responsibility for U.S. imperialism of any generation in history. In your specific case you taught at Columbia, one of the first universities to occupy a campus in protest against the Viet Nam war (and other ills), a few weeks before the more famous French students in May 1968 and you supported those students. In some sense you took an active part in the launching of the more radical phase of the anti-war movement (many of the original Weatherpeople come from the Columbia strike), so you helped get a powerful anti-imperialist movement off the ground.

I'm sure that your philosophy classes got lots of those radical students thinking about social injustice and oppression.

Thus, you, more than Wordsworth, were present at the dawn. It's certainly not your fault or responsibility that after the dawn, the clouds began to appear and then night.

However, as they say, the sun also rises.

Tom Cathcart said...

As you said, Bob, shame is an emotion, not a judgement, and it's one I share. For me it doesn't have much to do with my personal responsibility. I feel shame for slavery. I feel shame for the decimation of the Native American tribes. Sometimes I feel shame for being a man or for being white. And I feel intense shame for the election of Trump. Maybe it's a bit like Socrates accepting his punishment according to the laws he agreed to live under. I've accepted the benefits of being American, so I have to bear the shame of being an American.