Philosophy

Simone Weil: Waiting for God (parts 1 and 2)–The God Frequency

Abi Doukhan watch

Abi Doukhan is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY), and holds the Pearl and Nathan Halegua Family Initiative in Ethics and Tolerance. She holds a Masters in philosophy from the Sorbonne and a Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Nanterre, Paris, France. Her recent publications include Emmanuel Levinas: A Philosophy of Exile (Bloomsbury, October 2012), and Biblical Portraits of Exile (Routledge, June 2016).

YouTube class lecture (May 13, 2o22)

Investigating “Man’s Relation to Reality”: Peter Winch, the Vanishing Shed and Metaphysics after Wittgenstein

Olli Lagerspetz read

Peter Winch believed that the central task of philosophy was to investigate ‘the force of the concept of reality’ in human practices. This involved creative dialogue with critical metaphysics. In ‘Ceasing to Exist’, Winch considered what it means to judge that something unheard-of has happened. Referring to Wittgenstein, Winch argued that judgments concerning reality must relate our observations to a shared ‘flow of life’. This implies criticism of the form of epistemology associated with metaphysical realism. Just as, according to Wittgenstein, a sentence has no fixed meaning in isolation — an observation does not constitute knowledge outside shared human practices.

Philosophical Investigations, 5 Jan. 2022

Ellul and Weil: Attention as Waiting: Complementary Critiques in an Age of Technique via Simone Weil and Jacques Ellul

Sarah Louise MacMillen read

Excerpt:

The writings of Simone Weil and Jacques Ellul include sociological, philosophical, and religious themes, and the two intellectuals serve as “bookends” surrounding the postmodern era.  The writers were prolific, respectively, during the time between the World Wars (Weil), and the late 20th century’s Information Age (Ellul).  They each dealt with the impact of modernity on humans, further exploring the implications of Weber’s definition of moderns as “sensualists without heart and specialists without spirit.”

Weil and Ellul had prescient insights on a contemporary trend, namely an unbridled faith in technology, or what Ellul called “technique,” looming large.  Ellul and Weil both present a case for how the method of the technological imagination undermines basic needs and obligations for human beings.  Alan Jacobs’ text discusses both Weil and Ellul in this light.  For Weil the enemy of education is “technocracy . . . ’evil [dominates] wherever the technical side of things is…sovereign.”  For Ellul, observing later in the 20th century, “education no longer has a humanist…value in itself; it has only one goal, to create technicians.”  Combining these reflections from the two authors, postmodernity and techniquelose touch with what Weil calls “attention”—waiting for God (or Platonist transcendent claims of Truth and Goodness), and also to the human other.

The thrust of technique in the contemporary American spheres of social media and education pulls away from critical and reflexive capacities, especially as core values in the liberal arts.  These two related spheres of change suggest the unreflective assertion of ideas without in-depth, historical learning, or an ethically-entrenched humanistic approach.  Higher education and wider communities of discourse reflect an age of empty speech and the worship of technological innovation and “the newest.” This moves away from the charism of St. Bernard of Chartres who reminds us that “New knowledge is always standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Source: International Jacques Ellul Society (2022) / / An early version of this article was presented at the American Weil Society colloquy in the Spring of 2017 at Villanova University.

Sarah MacMillen is an associate professor at McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts in the Sociology Department at Duquesne University.

The presence of the world in Simone Weil’s early writings

Juan Manuel Ruiz Jiménez read

In this critical study we analyze the question of the presence of the world in Simone Weil’s early writings, in order to apprehend properly her conception of time. In this sense, we try to elucidate the ontological and epistemological relations that she sets between man and the world. This perspective allows us to explore the philosophy of perception in Weil’s early years and to sketch the existential implications that emerge in the experience of present. We also look at the difficulty of thinking about immobility in human reality, based on the problematic tension that Weil establishes between the notions of continuity and eternity.

Filosopfia, vo. 23, no. 1 (Jan-Apr. 2022)

 

Anemones—A Simone Weil Project

Lisa Robertson read

It is with great pleasure that we present Lisa Robertson’s Anemones: A Simone Weil Project, the fourteenth publication within the “If I Can’t Dance” Performance in Residence programme.

Three years ago, “If I Can’t Dance” invited poet and writer Lisa Robertson to develop an experimental research project based on her long-term study of medieval troubadour poetry and the invention of the rime in the historical region of Occitania. The scope of this investigation offered “If I Can’t Dance” an intriguing proposition to revisit genealogies of performance that sit outside the canons that define this rather young discipline. Troubadour poetry was composed and sung in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries using the Occitan vernacular language, a language of migratory confluences, where Arab, Jewish, Christian, and secular popular traditions blend and jostle. Unlike the stability and authority of Latin or of the then forming French territory to the north, troubadour rime culture elaborated a poetics of intermixture—linguistic, erotic, and mystical, in the southwest region of what is now France, in relation to Andalusian, Syrian and Palestinian cultural movements and influences, as well as to plant and animal neighbours. As Robertson explained at the Edition VIII—Ritual and Display introductory weekend in October 2019, this language “learn[ed] from birds, leaves and tree frogs as well as people”, each of which moved between lands and over the borders of political territories.

What was initially going to be a publication on the invention of the rime within these vocal and cultural movements eventually took a different turn. The archival research and the collaborations Robertson had envisioned for the project had to come to a halt due to the prolonged confinements provoked by the outbreak of Covid-19. In this space of arrest, Robertson encountered the essay “What the Occitan Inspiration Consists of,” penned by philosopher, mystic and political activist Simone Weil in 1942 for the Marseilles-based anti-fascist literary journal Les Cahiers du Sud. Written from within the devastations of World War II, Weil elevates the troubadour concept of love to a practice of political resistance that rejects force in all its forms. In a new annotated translation that lies at the heart of the volume, Robertson dwells on the transhistorical potential of this notion, coming to terms with the broken lineage of troubadour culture, the legacy of Weil’s philosophical thought, and the violent context from which it emerged. In so doing, Robertson embraces the effect of both actualised and suppressed histories, testifying to friendship, readership, and the resistance of words across incommensurable distances.

Designed by Amsterdam-based Rietlanden Women’s Office, Anemones: A Simone Weil Project moves between poetry, the epistolary genre, and scholarly research. Echoing Weil’s philosophical concerns, the publication is also the site of a performance of dedication that takes the form of a series of floral actions conceived and realised by artist Benny Nemer. Carrying a letter written by Robertson, Nemer delivered an arrangement of flowers to seven people—artists, writers, poets—this book is dedicated to. The pages of the book then become the receptacle of a performativity that resists consumption and is not meant to be seen, announced, and disclosed, but rather imagined, whispered, and savoured in a moment of intimacy.

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

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