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Now Available: Volumes I, II, III, and IV of the Collected Published and Unpublished Papers.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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Friday, May 5, 2017

A LACK OF IMAGINATION

The little back and forth about the title of Willem deVries’ book Hegel’s Theory of Mental Activity got me thinking about the titles of my books, and I realized that no fewer than seven of my books have titles that are borrowed from other books, including one whose title is borrow from a book by me!

The first was the little book Barrington Moore, Jr., Herbert Marcuse, and I did in 1965, A Critique of Pure Tolerance [a joke title proposed by Herbert.]   This was followed by The Poverty of Liberalism in 1968.  This is actually a grandson title.  The original was Proudhon’s La Philosophie de la Misère, to which Marx responded with La Misère de la Philosophie [i.e. The Poverty of Philosophy] on which I then piggybacked.  The next year, I published The Ideal of the University, a steal from John Cardinal Newman/s classic work The Idea of the University [or homage as we say in the writing game].  The year after that I brought out In Defense of Anarchism, the title taken from a wonderful Mark Twain essay, “In Defense of Harriet Shelley.”  Then, in 1973, I edited a forgettable collection of essays by various authors called 1984 Revisited.  In ’85, having no better idea, I called my book on Marx’s economic theories Understanding Marx, an echo of my ’77 book Understanding Rawls.  Finally, in 2005, I published Autobiography of an Ex-White Man, a deliberate steal from and reference to the famous James Weldon Johnson novel Autobiography of an Ex-Coloured Man.


As I was writing all this, I was blithely unaware of my habit of stealing titles.  I am sure it has some deep meaning, but I cannot for the life of me imagine what that is.

1 comment:

Jerry Fresia said...

I'm sure you've heard the quote about "good artists copy, great artists steal" which is attributed to Picasso but it seems
many people have said similar things.

TS Eliot is reported to have said, "The immature poet imitates and the mature poet plagiarizes." Goethe to Eckermann, before Eliot, said: “If you see a great master, you will always find that he used what was good in his predecessors, and that it was this which made him great.”

According to this discussion (http://quoteinvestigator.com/2013/03/06/artists-steal/) all of the above is apocraphal. Anyway,
you seem to be in good company.