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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

    Written

    Passage & Presence (Passage et présence de Simone Weil, état des lieux)

    Jean-Marc Ghitti read

    Jean-Marc Ghitti has long been interested in the philosopher Simone Weil. He already dedicated a book to her in 2009, on the occasion of the centenary of his birth. Since then, the scholarly Ponot has continued his research while giving lectures. It took him three more years of work to complete Simone Weil’s book Passage and Presence.
    The author did not want to make a simple biography of the philosopher who left her name as a heritage to the old high school for young girls in Le Puy. Nor did he want to do a university study.

    “I wanted to present the thought of Simone Weil from the places where she passed”.

    Tracing the intellectual and spiritual path of the woman of letters, by traversing the places which marked her life, was not an easy task. This course covers nearly 340 pages. It begins in Puy-en-Velay, where Simone Weil, a very young professor of philosophy, arrives in September 1931 (for a school year), and ends in London in 1943. A woman’s life, who died at the age of 34 years, from tuberculosis and starvation.
    Jean-Marc Ghitti divides his work into 14 chapters. Le Puy, Auxerre, Roanne, Saint-Étienne, Bourges, Spain, Italy, Marseille, Ardèche, London, but also the sea or the factory are all places through which the philosopher has passed and where she didn’t leave her mark. “Like the water that opens and closes after the passage of a boat,” illustrates the author Ponot. With her, each place is a mental moment. “
    Simone Weil’s professional career, like Jean-Marc Ghitti’s book, begins in Le Puy. A place where she will put her thoughts into practice. This is the start of his engagement. She is an educated young Parisian woman who comes into contact with working-class realities that hurt her.

    She meets social life at its most difficult. This experience in Le Puy was marked by scandal.

    The young teacher, assigned to her first post in the high school for young girls in Place Michelet (since relocated), will meet “needy unemployed people who do public utility work to earn a few cents. Their work consists in breaking up rubble ”. Committed to union life, Simone Weil, who regularly takes the train to Saint-Étienne to educate minors, will defend the unemployed in Place Michelet. She accompanies them to the municipal council. Which will fuel a local scandal.
    “The life of Simone Weil is an intellectual success based on a succession of failures,” summarizes the author of the book sold in all bookstores in France since October 17. She failed most of the things she did. Her professional career is lackluster, her involvement in the Spanish Civil War was ineffective, and neglect of her own body quickly led to the loss of her life. “
    But her thought made her a great 20th-century philosophical figure.

    KIME; 1st edition (September 17, 2021)

    Jean-Marc Ghitti is an associate professor and doctor of philosophy. He has authored various philosophical and literary works. In 2007, in the city where he taught, he created an association, Présence Philosophique au Puy, to bring the spirit of Simone Weil to life.

    Written

    Simone Weil for the Twenty-First Century

    Eric O. Springsted read

    This in-depth study examines the social, religious, and philosophical thought of Simone Weil.

    Simone Weil for the Twenty-First Century presents a comprehensive analysis of Weil’s interdisciplinary thought, focusing especially on the depth of its challenge to contemporary philosophical and religious studies. In a world where little is seen to have real meaning, Eric O. Springsted presents a critique of the unfocused nature of postmodern philosophy and argues that Weil’s thought is more significant than ever in showing how the world in which we live is, in fact, a world of mysteries. Springsted brings into focus the challenges of Weil’s original (and sometimes surprising) starting points, such as an Augustinian priority of goodness and love over being and intellect, and the importance of the Crucifixion. Springsted demonstrates how the mystical and spiritual aspects of Weil’s writings influence her social thought. For Weil, social and political questions cannot be separated from the supernatural. For her, rather, the world has a sacramental quality, such that life in the world is always a matter of life in God―and life in God, necessarily a way of life in the world.

    Simone Weil for the Twenty-First Century is not simply a guide or introduction to Simone Weil. Rather, it is above all an argument for the importance of Weil’s thought in the contemporary world, showing how she helps us to understand the nature of our belonging to God (sometimes in very strange and unexpected ways), the importance of attention and love as the root of both the love of God and neighbor, the importance of being rooted in culture (and culture’s service to the soul in rooting it in the universe), and the need for human beings to understand themselves as communal beings, not as isolated thinkers or willers. It will be essential reading for scholars of Weil, and will also be of interest to philosophers and theologians.

    Eric O. Springsted is the co-founder of the American Weil Society and served as its president for thirty-three years. After a career as a teacher, scholar, and pastor, he is retired and lives in Santa Fe, NM. He is the author and editor of a dozen previous books, including Simone Weil: Late Philosophical Writings (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015).

    University of Notre Dame Press, 2021