Simone Weil: A Thinker for Our Trying Times

Erika Bachiochi read

Book Review Excerpt: “A good number of biographies have been penned about Weil since her death in 1943, a few quite recently. Now, wishing to cull from her work ideas most relevant to our times, intellectual historian Robert Zaretsky has written yet another: The Subversive Simone Weil: A Life in Five Ideas. The five ideas Zaretsky draws out in as many chapters are: the force of affliction; paying attention; the varieties of resistance; finding roots; and the good, the bad, and the Godly. The first three chapters are strong, as Zaretsky’s deftly situates Weil in historical, literary, and philosophical context. In the third chapter on resistance, the best of the book, we find, for instance, a riveting account of how Weil’s engagement in both the Spanish Civil War and World War II dramatically transformed her from a committed pacifist to one who would in time declare that the inaction of pacifists up and against Hitler’s violent advance betrayed “a propensity to treason. . . .”

SourceLaw & Liberty (Feb. 3, 2022)

Erika Bachiochi is a Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center and a Senior Fellow at the Abigail Adams Institute where she founded and directs the Wollstonecraft Project. Her new book, The Rights of Women: Reclaiming a Lost Vision, was published by Notre Dame Press in 2021.

Simone Weil’s exemplary anti-fascism feels urgent today

Richard Penaskovic read

Excerpt: . . . . What can we learn from her today? Plenty. First, in these pandemic times, we need to focus on helping others in a way that makes our own ego disappear as we come to the aid of neighbors less fortunate than we are. Second, Simone suggests that we are to do God’s will and can be a unique presence of God on planet Earth. Third, Simone can be relatable to women today who are experiencing physical, mental, and emotional pain, since she suffered so much pain her entire life yet continued her important work of championing the marginalized.

Times Union (March 5, 2022)

Former Albany resident Richard Penaskovic went on to become a professor of religious studies at Alabama’s Auburn University. He earned his doctorate in theology at the University of Munich in Germany.

SIMONE WEIL – La vie au risque de la vérité (SIMONE WEIL – Life at the risk of the truth)

Catherine Deneuve watch

A documentary written and directed by Catherine Deneuve. (in French)

Produced by Grand Lange and KTO / Good projection

Ideas To Save Your Life

Michael McGirr read

Ideas to Save Your Life follows Michael McGirr’s much-admired Books that Saved My Life (2018). This time, instead of sharing his love of literature, McGirr shares his love of philosophy, focusing on the works of twenty-plus eminent thinkers across history.

The book goes back to Pythagoras and comes forward to the contemporary Australian Frank Jackson; back to Mungo Woman and forward to Martha Nussbaum, by way of Simone Weil [Chapter 16] and Iris Murdoch. It is animated by two related questions: from where do we draw a sense of life’s purpose? And how can philosophy make life better? It ranges widely across subjects—from solitude to community, language to order, experience to ecstasy, the idea of good to that of a good idea.

McGirr’s approach is warm and inviting. Drawing on his many years of teaching philosophy to teenagers, he shares stories from his life and the lives of others. Ideas to Save Your Life is often funny, but it is always serious about the task of philosophy. It makes the impenetrable accessible, the indescribable palpable, and invites you to change how you see the world.

Text Publishing (2021) (ch. 16 on Weil and attention)

Reviewed by Gregory Day in The Sunday Morning Herald (Dec. 31, 2021)

Simone Weil: Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Updated: Nov. 2021)

A. Rebecca Rozelle-Stone & Benjamin P. Davis read

Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Nov. 24, 2021: updated here)

  • A. Rebecca Rozelle-Stone: Professor, Philosophy & Religion at the University of North Dakota
  • BenjaminP. Davis: Postdoctoral Fellow in Ethics at the Centre for Ethics, at the University of Toronto (Nov. 2021




Simone Weil: Writing for a General Intellectual Audience

Toril Moi watch

In this video, Professor Toril Moi explains the internal editorial process related to her London Review of Books review of Robert Zaretsky’s The Subversive Simone Weil: A Life in Five Ideas (2021). Among several other things, her lecture addressed how her review was framed and how its length had to be shortened — a point directly related to a substantive objection raised in a letter-to-the-editor by Professor Zaretsky.