Articles read more
Written

Simone Weil’s Method: Essaying Reality through Inquiry and Action

Benjamin P. Davis read

Abstract

I read a selection of Simone Weil’s political philosophy in the way that she reads Marx – as forming “not a doctrine but a method of understanding and action.” My claim is that Weil’s method is likewise twofold: she attempts to understand the world through inquiry, then she tests her understanding through action. First, I read “Reflections Concerning the Causes of Liberty and Social Oppression” (1934). In that essay, inquiry, exemplified by Weil’s calling into question the term “revolution,” is her way of understanding reality around her, including forces of oppression and possibilities for liberation. Second, I read her “Factory Journal” (1934–1935), which records how she tested her theories from “Reflections” by placing herself in French factories. My conclusion states the fruits of Weil’s method for philosophy today: an interrogation of present political keywords (resistance, resilience) and a practice of philosophy as a way of life.

Comparative and Continental Philosophy, vol. 13 (Nov. 23, 2021)

Written

Transcendent Rebellion: The Influence of Simone Weil on Albert Camus’ Esthetics

Philip D. Bunn read

ABSTRACT: The relationship between the thought of Albert Camus and Simone Weil has been partially explored by scholars since their deaths. However, current scholarship does not fully explain the influence Weil’s life and work had on Camus’ esthetics, a full treatment of which is necessary to truly understand the significance of Camus’ adoption of the idea of the rebel as artist. Camus’ thought progresses significantly from his early esthetics of the will in his Essay on Music, affirming art as fundamentally an egoistic act, to a later esthetics of transcendence, affirming the selflessness of artistic rebellion.

This paper argues that Camus’ development both mirrors Weil’s own philosophical development and corresponds to Camus’ exposure to and assimilation of Weil’s thought on decreation, beauty, and the transcendent. By establishing that Camus’ development in his esthetic and political theories corresponds to his exposure to and praise of Weil, I argue that Weil’s influence on Camus explains his later turn away from Nietzsche and to the affirmation of human nature, beauty in the world, and selfless rebellion and creation.

Perspectives on Political Science (Nov. 2021)

Philip Bunn is a Ph.D. candidate in Political Science at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research brings both ancient and modern political thought to bear on contemporary issues, with a focus on normative questions relating to technology.

Written

Sheila Watson as a Reader of Simone Weil: Decreation, Affliction, and Metaxu in the The Double Hook

Kait Pinder read

This article examines Sheila Watson’s interest in the notoriously difficult thought of the French philosopher and mystic Simone Weil. Watson read Weil’s work in English and French throughout the 1950s, especially during the time she spent in Paris in 1955 and 1956. While critics have examined Watson’s Paris journals for her discussion of modernists such as Samuel Beckett and Wyndham Lewis, little attention has been paid to her synthesis of, and response to, Weil’s thought in the same pages. Contextualizing Watson’s revisions to The Double Hook in her sustained reading of Weil, this article argues that Weil’s thought informs Watson’s aesthetic and ethical project in the novel.

The article analyses Watson’s understanding of three central concepts in Weil’s philosophy – decreation, affliction, and metaxu – and offers a Weilian reading of The Double Hook. By resituating Watson as a reader of Weil, the article also highlights the Canadian author’s belonging within a wider circle of women writers in the mid-century who, like Weil and Watson, also demanded unsentimental responses to violence and suffering.

University of Toronto Quarterly, vol. 90, no. 4 (Fall 2021, pp. 669-690.