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


See also:



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.

The Subversive Simone Weil—A Review

Seamus Flaherty read

Sample from the introduction to the review:

“How much time do you devote each day to thinking?” That’s a strange question to ask a nurse from one’s hospital bed, but Simone Weil was no ordinary patient. On the contrary, philosopher, mystic, and, at that time, member of the Provisional French government in London, Weil was in every sense extraordinary.

Praised by André Gide as the “patron saint of all outsiders,” known to her fellow students at the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) as the “Categorical Imperative in skirts,” and dismissed by Charles de Gaulle as “a crazy woman,” Weil was certainly unusual. At once charmingly amusing and maddeningly irritating without meaning to be either, Weil was a bona fide eccentric. As T.S. Eliot pointed out, one detects no sense of humour in Weil. Candid to a fault and always in dogged pursuit of the Good, she believed that thinking is what gives us dignity and protects us from tyranny. The unusual question she put to her nurse, in other words, was to her mind perfectly reasonable.

Quillette, July 30, 2021

Pacifist, soldier, mystic, saint: The complex identity of Simone Weil

Karen Olsson

Times Literary Supplement, July 16, 2021 (reviewing Robert Zaretsky’s The Subversive Simone Weil) century French philosopher.

“About a year and a half ago, a bookseller in Princeton, New Jersey, told me that she’d lately noticed an uptick in sales of titles by Simone Weil, the twentieth-century philosopher. Donald Trump had something to do with it, I imagined: living under a regime of facile lies, more readers had been drawn to Weil’s difficult search for truth. While these book-buyers were seeking her guidance on their own, Robert Zaretsky, a professor at the University of Houston, publicly tried to steer more readers to Weil, writing a series of essays, for outlets including the New York Times and Foreign Affairs, in which he invoked some of Weil’s ideas as correctives, a means of seeing our way past the ruts and bromides of contemporary politics. . . . “

A Just and Loving Gaze

Deborah Casewell read

Excerpt: “Weil took no prisoners in any debate. Although Leon Trotsky had recently excoriated her critique of Marxism, Weil arranged for the Marxist revolutionary to stay in her parents’ apartment in December 1933 and host an illicit political gathering. This did, however, come at the expense of a night-long, intense discussion with Weil. While she always argued softly and clearly, that did not prevent the discussion from being punctuated by violent shouts.

That heart that beat across the world is perhaps why she always remained outside contemporary philosophical trends, and certainly outside of the academic and elite conversations in philosophy at the time. Weil’s philosophical commitments, while constant, often pale in comparison with her dramatic life and her political engagement. She enacted her philosophy with her commitment to causes, and finally with her body. This began with her declaration of Bolshevism at the age of 10, through to her university involvement in Marxism, trade unionism and pacificism. The first commitment declined as she found in Marxism itself plenty to criticise, though this did not prevent her from joining the republicans in the Spanish Civil War, albeit rather ineffectively. Yet, through all of this, two elements of her character remained constant: her self-denial for the sake of others, and the strength of her will. . . .”

Deborah Casewell is a Humboldt Research Fellow in philosophy at the University of Bonn and co-director of the UK-based Simone Weil Network. Her most recent book is Eberhard Jüngel and Existence: Being Before the Cross(2021).

Aeon, July 9, 2021