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Simone Weil: A Very Short Introduction

Rebecca Rozelle-Stone read

Oxford University Press, 2022 (forthcoming)

 

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    Attending: An Ethical Art

    Warren Heiti, editor read

    Attending – patient contemplation focused on a particular being – is a central ethical activity that has not been recognized by any of the main moral systems in the European philosophical tradition. That tradition has imagined that the moral agent is primarily a problem solver and world changer when what might be needed most is a witness.

    Moral theory has been agonized by dualism – motivation is analyzed into beliefs and desires, descriptions of facts and dissatisfactions with them, while action is represented as an effort to lessen dissatisfaction by altering the empirical world. In Attending Warren Heiti traces an alternative genealogy of ethics, drawing from the Platonism recovered by Simone Weil and developed in the work of Iris Murdoch, John McDowell, and Jan Zwicky. According to Weil, virtue is knowledge, knowledge is embodied, and the knower is nested in an ecosystem of relationships. Instead of analyzing and solving theoretical problems, Heiti aims to clarify the terrain by setting up objects of attention from more than one discipline, including not only philosophy but also literature, psychology, film, and visual art.

    The traditional picture captures one important type of ethical activity: faced with a moral problem, one looks to a general rule to furnish the solution. But not all problems conform to this model. Heiti offers an alternative: to see what is needed, one attends to the particular being.

    Warren Heiti is a Professor of philosophy and liberal studies at Vancouver Island University.

    McGill-Queen’s University Press, July 15, 2021

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    The Subversive Simone Weil: A Life in Five Ideas

    Robert Zaretsky read

    Known as the “patron saint of all outsiders,” Simone Weil (1909–43) was one of the twentieth century’s most remarkable thinkers, a philosopher who truly lived by her political and ethical ideals. In a short life framed by the two world wars, Weil taught philosophy to lycée students and organized union workers, fought alongside anarchists during the Spanish Civil War and labored alongside workers on assembly lines, joined the Free French movement in London and died in despair because she was not sent to France to help the Resistance.

    Though Weil published little during her life, after her death, thanks largely to the efforts of Albert Camus, hundreds of pages of her manuscripts were published to critical and popular acclaim. While many seekers have been attracted to Weil’s religious thought, Robert Zaretsky gives us a different Weil, exploring her insights into politics and ethics, and showing us a new side of Weil that balances her contradictions—the rigorous rationalist who also had her own brand of Catholic mysticism; the revolutionary with a soft spot for anarchism yet who believed in the hierarchy of labor; and the humanitarian who emphasized human needs and obligations over human rights. Reflecting on the relationship between thought and action in Weil’s life, The Subversive Simone Weil honors the complexity of Weil’s thought and speaks to why it matters and continues to fascinate readers today.

    Robert Zaretsky is the author of Boswell’s Enlightenment; A Life Worth Living: Albert Camus and the Quest for Meaning; and Catherine & Diderot: The Empress, the Philosopher, and the Fate of the Enlightenment, among other books. A frequent contributor to the New York Times, the Washington Post, Foreign Affairs, the Times Literary Supplement, the Los Angeles Review of Books, and the Chronicle of Higher Education, he lives in Houston with his wife, children, and assorted pets.

    Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2021

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    When Fiction & Philosophy Meet: A Conversation with Flannery O’Connor and Simone Weil

    E. Jane Doering & Ruthann Knechel Johansen read

    An innovative book, WHEN FICTION AND PHILOSOPHY MEET explores the intersection between the philosophy of Simone Weil from Paris, France, and the fiction of Flannery O’Connor from the Southern state of Georgia, USA. In an era of war, of unprecedented human displacements, and of ethnic, racial, and religious fears the ideas of these two intellectuals bear on our present condition. Both women keenly desired to perceive the realities of good and evil inherent in human existence and to bring this truth to the consciousness of their contemporaries. Embracing their belief that truth is eternal but must be transposed and translated, generation after generation, in language appropriate to each age, the authors acquaint O’Connor readers with concepts in Weil’s religious philosophy as seen in O’Connor’s stories. Doering and Johansen simultaneously illustrate how Weil’s philosophy, when embodied in fiction, reveals the lived realities of the human condition across time and space.

    Simone Weil and Flannery O’Connor were audacious thinkers with inquiring minds who held clear and firm religious convictions. Each applied her understandings of enduring spiritual truths to the challenges of nihilism and social oppression as seen in the spreading totalitarianism and the distressing legacy of slavery throughout human history. Both Weil and O’Connor crossed disciplinary boundaries and influenced their respective fields with innovative ideas and artistic expressions.

    Taking their cues from these writers, Doering and Johansen bring these two remarkable women into a four-voiced dialogue–Simone Weil and Flannery O’Connor with Doering and Johansen–by engaging each writer in the forms of her own genre and inviting readers to enter a dialogue of courage with Weil and O’Connor in the postmodern and post-Christian world.

    Macon, GA: Mercer University Press, 2021

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    Simone Weil Bibliography

    Saundra Lipton read

    Although Simone Weil died very young at age 34, her essays and notebooks have been the topic of a significant volume of scholarship from a wide variety of disciplines including Religion, Philosophy, Literature, Nursing, Political Science, History, Psychology, Education, and Business.  However, the last comprehensive bibliography of critical works on Simone Weil compiled by J.P. Little, dates back to 1973 with a supplement in 1979 and a small update in 1995.  The diversity and range of this ongoing scholarship make an updated comprehensive bibliography critically important for those writing on Weil and her work.

    Saundra Lipton, University of Calgary, and Debra Jensen, Mount Royal University have been active collaborators (till Debra’s untimely death July 15, 2012) in the compilation of a comprehensive bibliography of scholarly works on Simone Weil.  The goal of this project is to provide a valuable service to scholars and students in many fields by facilitating access to Weilian resources across disciplinary, geographic, and linguistic divides.  Publications worldwide have been surveyed. Over 5500 works have been discovered.  This online version of the bibliography currently lists more than 5000 book, essays, journal articles, and theses.

    I dedicate my continuing efforts on this project to the memory of my dear friend and colleague Debra Jensen.

    University of Calgary online library of resources