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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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




Total Pageviews

Friday, November 24, 2017

STRAWS IN THE WIND

Mike Flynn's lawyers have informed the White House lawyers that they will no longer be sharing information.  Those who know about such things say this probably means Flynn is now cooperating with the Mueller investigation.   If Flynn has been flipped, possibly to protect his son from indictment, that is very bad news for Trump.  One may only hope.

Thursday, November 23, 2017

SIMPLE PLEASURES

To clear my mind, somewhat in the way that fancy restaurants serve a bit of sorbet between courses to clear the palette, I just watched this short video of Noam Chomsky speaking, as he has so often before, about foundational matters in the theory of language.  It is such a pleasure to be in the presence of an utterly clear mind.

STUMPED

OK, I give up.  I scanned the Wolff/Wolff exchange as a .pdf file and converted it to WORD, but my typescript was so hard for the computer to read that there were a million errors.  So I scanned page 1 as a picture and inserted it into my blog, but it was too small.  So I copied that image and inserted it as an image into WORD, and bingo, page 1 came up beautifully.  So I scanned the entire exchange as a picture but could not get more than one page to transfer successfully.  This is bloody ridiculous.  What a way to spend Thanksgiving morning.

Meanwhile, more and more revelations of sexual harassment, sexual abuse, and all round creepy behavior continue to emerge.  Because women are a majority of the electorate, this has the potential to transform American life and politics.

As for Joe Barton, I couldn't care less that he sent lewd selfies to a woman he was having an affair with.

While this and much more unfolds, Robert Mueller is quietly chewing his way through the layers surrounding the President like a stealth PacMan.  I don't ask for much for Christmas; just an indictment of Jared Kushner.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

HOLY GEEKWORLD, BATMAN

Good grief.  I think I just did it.  I scanned a page onto my computer successfully with my ancient printer.  I tried to buy Adobe and discovered I alrady have it.  I then converted the .pdf file with a click to WORD!!!  As le bourgeois gentilhomee says in Moliere's play of the same name, I have been speaking prose all my life and did not know it.  

A TECH QUESTION

So far as I can tell, I am running Windows 10 on my computer.  Does anyone wish to weigh in on what is the best OCR package I can get for converting scanned typescript essays?  If they are going to end up as .pdf files, then I will need a good conversion program as well, so an OCR program that is capable of generating WORD files directly would be nifty, if such exists.

Monday, November 20, 2017

A WORD OF EXPLANATION

I linked to the story yesterday and I have written about the general subject at length, but because this is far and away the most immediately important matter before the public, and the world, I will write about it again.  I refer to the report that “The top nuclear commander in the U.S. [Gen. John Hyten] said Saturday that he would reject an “illegal” nuclear attack order from President Donald Trump, and would instead steer the commander in chief to other “options.””

Let me once again explain what is at issue here.  During the decades-long nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union, American military planners were fearful that a nuclear first strike would knock out communications, and perhaps also kill the President and Vice President and others in the chain of command, thus making it impossible to launch a nuclear counterstrike.  They knew that their early warning systems would give them no more than fifteen minutes in which to detect a launch of Soviet intercontinental ballistic missiles and then send a launch order to nuclear submarine commanders or hardened silo officers before the arrival of the Soviet missiles.  In order to make deterrence credible, they had to devise a system capable of reacting with that speed.  The solution was a command system for nuclear missiles that bypassed the chain of command and went directly from the President to those actually in control of, and capable of launching, US ICBMs.  Since there was no way of anticipating where the President might be when that fifteen minute window opened, it was decided to assign senior officers, carrying a communications device and launch codes, to accompany the President literally everywhere.  This device came to be called “the nuclear football” because of its shape.

The cold war is long over, and countries like North Korea who possess nuclear weapons and might be moved to launch their ICBMs at the United States [never mind how unlikely this is] are not capable of the sort of first strike that would threaten the command structure of the American military.  But the nuclear football still exists, and with it, at least in theory, the bypassing of the chain of command that it presupposes.

Enter Donald Trump, who is widely believed, by those who have seen him up close and know him best, to be capable in a fit of pique of ordering a first strike, let us say at North Korea.  Assuming that this assessment of Trump’s mental state is accurate – as I believe it is – we thus face a simply devastatingly disastrous prospect.  General Hyten, who understands all of this intimately and lives with it daily, is saying that he would interpret as illegitimate a Trump command to launch a nuclear strike in the absence of the sort of information for which the current system was originally designed.


This is the very best news I have heard since Trump was elected.

THE RIGORS OF PANHANDLING

As I have mentioned, I am embarked on an effort to recapture and organize a lifetime of writing.  As I started working through a file drawer of unpublished papers, I came across a copy [misfiled] of a fund-raising letter that I mailed out on January 25, 1991 for my newly created charitable organization, University Scholarships for South African Students [USSAS].  My principal gimmick for getting USSAS started was to buy the mailing lists of a number of American academic organizations – The American Philosophical Association, the Organization of American Historians, the English and American Literature branch of the Modern Language Association, and so forth.  Then I rounded up big names in those fields to co-sign a letter I drafted [Jack Rawls declined], and sent out appeals to all the members.  By the time I was done, I had sent out 85,000 letters.  Considering the distinction of the letter signers, I had high hopes, but folks with experience in the fund-raising business warned me to expect no more than a one or two percent response, a caution that proved quite accurate.


The letter I stumbled on yesterday went to all the members of the American Economics Association.  Let me tell you who signed it:  Kenneth Arrow, Alice Rivlin, Paul Samuelson, Amartya Sen, Herbert Simon, and Joseph Stiglitiz.  Five Nobel Prize winners!  And only about 2% of the economists who got the letter mailed in some money.  Don’t be fooled by the likes of Sheldon Adelson, the Mercers, and the Koch brothers.  Raising money is hard.