How we think is shaped by what we read and how we read. The “how” is a vital part of the equation. Much the same holds true for writing and how we express our thoughts. In both instances, method should play its part though it must be neither mechanical nor categorical. Rather, such method should be a way of opening the mind rather than cabining it. Yet so much of the process of contemporary scholarship cuts against this grain. Why?
. . . . Truth is one of the first casualties of deracination. Of course, it was hard not to be driven mad by the assault on truth both before and during the war. Though trained as a philosopher, Weil’s preoccupation with truth was not a professional habit, but an existential imperative. She loathed fascism and communism not simply because they deny the inherent dignity of each and every human being, but also the existence of objective truth and a common reality.
This threat — both political and epistemological — was embodied by the German occupiers, of course, but also by their French collaborators based at Vichy. Inevitably, some were true believers in the reality offered by Nazi ideology — a reality that divided human beings worthy of life from those unworthy of life. Many more collaborators, though, were little more than opportunists for whom truth was as expendable as were the lives of those who depended on seeing and speaking the truth.
Forward, May 17, 2021
Trajectories of Mysticism in Theory and Literature, (n.d.) pp. 72-93
UK: Penguin, 2020
We readily recognize the concept of an inner life as a moral category. We struggle to say what an inner life is, though. This essay examines and rejects naturalistic attempts to either dismiss the idea of an inner life or make it a matter of brain states, a sort of efficient causality to behaviour. Relying on Simone Weil’s distinction between “the language of the market place and the language of the nuptial chamber,” it distinguishes, as she did, between levels of value. The inner life is a life of dealing with values that demand some kind of personal and intimate response.
Abstract: Major thinkers of the twentieth-century (Husserl, Heidegger, Wittgenstein, Whitehead) explored the conditions for the possibility of perception, language, and thought, and Merleau-Ponty in particular addressed the physi- cal body as a condition of existing and being situated in the world. Although French philosopher Simone Weil (1909–1943) has not been recognized as belonging in this stream of philosophical history, this article seeks to dem- onstrate that Weil was a pioneering phenomenologist of the body; for remarkably like Merleau-Ponty—yet more than a decade before him in the early 1930s—Simone Weil’s thinking centered on the foundational role of the body in structuring thought and ordering the world. The body is the first and primary orderer of experience for Weil: it grasps relations intuitively, pre-linguistically, and mediates action and thought. Weil’s body-thinking reconfigures the basis of thinking itself, positing that bodily movement is the factor sine qua non that enables ordered spatial-temporal perception, a perception on which the most abstract reaches of language and thought depend.
Comparative and Continental Philosophy, vol. 4, no. 2 (2012): pp. 195–218
The Review of Politics, vol. 72, pp. 79-96