Political Philosophy

From Innate Morality Towards a New Political Ethos: Simone Weil with Carol Gilligan and Judith Butler

Aviad Heifetz read

In 1943, Simone Weil proposed to supersede the declaration of human rights with a declaration of obligations towards every human being’s balancing pairs of body and soul’s needs, for engaging and inspiring more effectively against autocratic and populist currents in times of crisis. We claim that Weil’s proposal, which remains pertinent today, may have been sidestepped because her notion of needs lacked a fundamental dimension of relationality, prominent in the ‘philosophical anthropology’ underlying the (different) visions for a new political ethos of both Judith Butler and Carol Gilligan. From the radical starting point of innate morality common to all three thinkers, we, therefore, indicate how an enriched notion of interlaced needs, encompassing both balance and relationality, may restore the viability of a declaration of human obligations as a robust source of inspiration. In this combination of balance and relationality, Butler’s notion of aggressive nonviolence is key.

Ethics, Politics & Society. A Journal in Moral and Political Philosophy, no. 4 (2021), pp. 175-188.

Panel Discussion: Theo-Politics, Tragedy and Memory

Nicolai Petro, Susannah Black, Paul Grenier, Matthew Dal Santo, Michael Martin, and Vasily Shchipkov watch

Simone Weil Center for Political Philosophy