The Paradox of Attention
Philosophy and theology have long harboured contradictory views on spiritual practice. While philosophy advocates the therapeutic benefits of daily meditation, the theology of grace promotes an ideal of happiness bestowed with little effort. As such, the historical juxtaposition of effort and grace grounding modern spiritual exercise can be seen as the essential tension between the secular and sacred.
In Effort and Grace, Simone Kotva explores an exciting new theory of spiritual endeavour from the tradition of French spiritualist philosophy. Spiritual exercise has largely been studied in relation to ancient philosophy and the Ignatian tradition, yet Kotva’s new engagement with its more recent forms has alerted her to an understanding of contemplative practice as rife with critical potential.
Here, she offers an interdisciplinary text tracing the narrative of spiritual exertion through the work of seminal French thinkers such as Maine de Biran, Félix Ravaisson, Henri Bergson, Alain (Émile Chartier), Simone Weil and Gilles Deleuze. Her findings allow both secular philosophers and theologians to understand how the spiritual life can participate in the contemporary philosophical conversation.
Essay in Effort and Grace: On the Spiritual Exercise of Philosophy, London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 131-172.