Epoché, no. 37 (February 2021).
Homer, the great poet of the Iliad and the Odyssey, is revered as a cultural icon of antiquity and a figure of lasting influence. But his identity is shrouded in questions about who he was, when he lived, and whether he was an actual person, a myth, or merely a shared idea. Rather than attempting to solve the mystery of this character, James I. Porter explores the sources of Homer’s mystique and their impact since the first recorded mentions of Homer in ancient Greece.
Homer: The Very Idea considers Homer not as a man, but as a cultural invention nearly as distinctive and important as the poems attributed to him, following the cultural history of an idea and of the obsession that is reborn every time Homer is imagined. Offering novel readings of texts and objects, the book follows the very idea of Homer from his earliest mentions to his most recent imaginings in literature, criticism, philosophy, visual art, and classical archaeology.
University of Chicago Press, October 25, 2021
The Point, web only, (August 7, 2020).
St. John’s University, CRS Global Campus Committee
Weil’s essay on Homer’s Iliad contains a philosophical analysis of la force that divides it into two phenomena with one metaphysical ground. Her analysis is a corrective to misunderstandings of force as something that can be possessed. The first half of my elaboration of Weil’s analysis is devoted to the phenomena she identifies in relation to la force, which I call might. In the second half, I elaborate the varieties of misunderstanding of la force. First, might is an illusion sustained by the shared belief of those in submission to might. Second, forces, i.e. the material forces on which weaponry depends, cannot be possessed. Third, what lies behind material forces is necessity, a third meaning of la force, which functions as a superordinate or ultimate force to which everyone and everything is subject. Understanding the last of these is the corrective that Weil means to present.
Philosophical Investigations, vol. 43, nos. 1-2, pp. 8-18.
In “On the Abolition of All Political Parties,” Simone Weil poses the hypothetical predicament of a person who is intent on solving highly complex mathematical problems but is flogged every time the answer he arrives at is an even number. The person will oscillate between his genuine desire for the truth and the painful cries of his body. “[I]nevitably,” Weil writes, “he will make many mistakes—even if he happens to be very intelligent, very brave and deeply attached to the truth.” She then asks: “What should he do?” Weil’s answer may surprise many readers, even though she claims it is “simple.” If possible, “he must run away” from those who wield the whip. It would have been best, she avers, had he avoided these associations in the first place. Elsewhere in her writings, Weil openly endorses the argument for the lesser evil, justifying active, potentially violent, resistance instead of a pacifist ethic of refusal. This essay analyses the tension between Weil’s ethic of “running away” and her acceptance of the lesser evil.
Philosophical Investigations, vol. 43, nos. 1-2, pp. 165-166.
in Sophie Bourgault & Julie Daigle, eds., Simone Weil, Beyond Ideology?, New York: Palgrave Macmillan pp. 125-142