Simon Fraser University, MA
This thesis explores the role of attention in morality as presented by Iris Murdoch. The aim is to offer a clear and detailed understanding of Murdoch’s concept of attention, its metaphysical presuppositions and its implications for morality, and, if Murdoch’s view as developed here is found to be plausible, to suggest how attention can be considered to play an important role in morality. The moral concept of attention presented in this work involves particular epistemic attitudes and faculties that are meant to enable the subject to apprehend moral reality and thus achieve correct moral understanding and moral responses.
The thesis is divided into three parts. The first part (Chapters 1 and 2), clarifies Murdoch’s metaphysical picture on which the idea of attention is grounded. The metaphysics involves a dual commitment to value as both existing in reality and as a transcendental condition. While the two ideas appear incompatible, I suggest a framework against which Murdoch’s claim that an evaluat ive consciousness apprehends a value external to itself might be understood. The second part introduces Murdoch’s moral psychology, and explores how the faculties, attitudes and character traits related to attention are involved in moral understanding (Chapters 3 and 4). The two parts come together in Chapter 5, which focuses on how the exercise of attention can be understood as enabling moral perception. The last part (Chapters 6 and 7) continues the moral psychological exploration of attention, by focusing on the self, viewed both as interference and as indispensable means in attaining moral understanding.
The analysis of Murdoch’s thought is conducted through close readings of her work, discussions of the secondary literature, as well as by clarifying and developing key points through readings of Simone Weil, from whom Murdoch derives the idea of attention.
Ph.D. dissertation, University of East Anglia School of Politics, Philosophy, Language and Communication Studies Department of Philosophy, September 2015
— Iris Murdoch, “‘Waiting on God’: A Radio Talk on Simone Weil,” Iris Murdoch Review, (2017), pp. 9-16, preface by Justin Broackes, (BBC broadcast, Oct.18, 1951, 7.40 p.m. on the Third Programme)
— Simone Weil, Venice Saved, ed. & trans. by Silvia Panizza & Phillip Wilson, Bloomsbury Academic, 2019
PhD, University of California, Santa Barbara
Louisiana State University, PhD
McMaster University, MA
University of Arizona, PhD
“This thesis is a study of the influence of the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads on the religious and philosophical thought of Simone Weil. It will examine the major tenets of Weil’s thought in an attempt to determine where Weil was influenced by the teaching of these texts and where she rejected them. Chapter One will be a brief introduction to Weil’s relationship to the Gita and the Upanishads. Chapter Two will look at Weil’s cosmology paying particular attention to her concepts of decreation, necessity gravity, and grace. It will then look at the Indian notions of dharma, karma, and the Samkhya teachings found in the Gita in an attempt to determine where she was influenced by these concepts and where she rejected them. Chapter Three will look at Weil’s views on knowledge paying particular attention to her notions of reading, levels of reading, and levels of knowledge. It will then look at the teachings on knowledge in the Gita and the Upanishads in an attempt to determine their influence on Weil’s thought. Chapter Four will examine Weil’s soteriology, including her views on ‘actionless action’, detachment and affliction. It will then turn to these concepts in the Upanisads and Glta again looking for ways in which they influenced Weil. Chapter Five will draw together the preceding chapters, in an attempt to assess the overall influence of the Bhagavad-Gita and the Upanishads on Weil’s thought. It will conclude with suggestions for further study of Weil’s work.”
Unpublished Masters Thesis (University of Calgary), 1989
ht: University of Calgary Online Library (Simone Weil)
This dissertation examines multiple aspects of Simone Weil’s political thought. Its specific aim is to render an account of political thought and life that incorporates Weil’s criteria of justice and love. For Weil, any account of justice, traditionally held, at least in ancient political thought, as the cardinal political virtue, must recognize two things: human misery and love. Without adequate recognition of these two things, justice falls short of being true, which, according to Weil, is nothing other than a “radiant manifestation of reality” (NR 253). Paradigmatic within Weil’s thought and work is the sense that “human life is a composition on many planes” (NB, vol. 1, 28). This dissertation remains faithful to her dictum by examining the multiple aspects and planes factored into her more explicitly political thought. Further, what becomes foundational in every chapter are the very criteria she sets for the realization of justice. Accordingly, the dissertation begins with a discussion of Weil’s thought on the question of human labor and moves to an account of her reading of suffering and affliction. What follows the account of suffering and affliction is an analysis of her theory of justice. After examining her theory of justice, I give a more in-depth reading of her explicitly political thought. The dissertation’s final chapter juxtaposes Weil’s political thought and postmodern political thought. Finally, the dissertation concludes with some criticism of certain aspects of Weil’s political thought. Though I suggest certain criticisms of her work in the conclusion of this dissertation, what I also suggest is that much within her political thought must be retained. Among that which should be retained is her dialectical reading of the political and the supernatural, her account of affliction, her insistence upon the connection between love and human misery in any formulation of justice, and the emphasis she places upon the incarnation of thought in the world.
Ph.D., Political Science, Fordham University, 1988
Institute for Christian Studies (Toronto, Ontario) MA
M.A., Department of Philosophy, University of Louisville (1982)