Nodding In On The Great Conversation: Juvenilia and Published and Unpublished Essays on David Hume, Immanuel Kant, and Higher Education

Robert Paul Wolff, edited by Michael Hemmingsen

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Area: Philosophy


Part I: Juvenilia
Letter to the Harvard Crimson, and the Aftermath
Letter to Astounding Science Fiction
First Publications
Professor Ryle’s Discussion of Agitations
A Reply to Mr. Corbett

Part II: The Philosophy of David Hume and Immanuel Kant
Why Indeed?
Hume’s Theory of Mental Activity
Kant’s Debt to Hume via Beattie
Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion
Remarks on the Relation of the Critique of Pure Reason to Kant’s Ethical Theory
Ontological and Epistemological Problems in the Foundations of Kant’s Rechtslehre
The Completion of Kant’s Moral Theory in the Tenets of the Rechtslehre
Review of Kant’s Transcendental Deduction: An Analysis of Main Themes in His Critical Philosophy by Robert Howell
Review of Laws of Freedom: A Study of Kant’s Method of Applying the Categorical Imperative in the “Metaphysik der Sitten” by Mary J. Gregor

Part III: Higher Education
The Pimple on Adonis’ Nose
Review of The Closing of the American Mind by Allan Bloom
What Good is a Liberal Education?
The Purpose of a Liberal Education
Ideology and Oppression at Amherst College
Correspondence Between Robert Paul Wolff and Frederick A. Olafson
Some Heretical Thoughts on the Rat Race for the Top Jobs
Philosophy in South Africa Today
Review of Chains of Thought: Philosophical essays in South African Education by Wally Morrow
Tertiary Education in the New South Africa: A Lover’s Complaint

For more than half a century, Philosopher Robert Paul Wolff has been thinking and writing about the great figures of eighteenth century philosophy and about the ideals and realities of American higher education. In this first volume of his collected published and unpublished papers, a number of those writings are collected and made available. 

The volume opens with Wolff's very earliest published writings, including a letter to the Harvard Crimson that sparked a ten year controversy between two scholars with the same name and diametrically opposed political opinions, and an impassioned defence of Aristotle by the nineteen year old scholar in the pages of Astounding Science Fiction.

The volume continues with some of Wolff's well-known writings on David Hume and Immanuel Kant, including a little known essay in which he identifies, in one of Kant's late works, the argument for the Categorical Imperative that is missing from the well-known Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. This portion of the volume opens with Wolff's uproarious account, never before seen, of a conference devoted to Kant's philosophy of law. For twenty-five years the account has languished in a file marked "unpublishable essay."

The volume concludes with many of Wolff's writings on aspects of Higher Education, including the now classic review of Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind, said by some to be the best book review ever written.