Inside Issue 3: New and Forthcoming
News From Italy: Books, Articles & Events
Action and Contemplation: A Commentary on Vance Morgan’s Weaving the World: Simone Weil on Science, Mathematics, and Love
Was Simone Weil an anti-Semite?
The Impending Death of Democracy?
Marie-Magdeleine Davy and the Memory of Simone Weil
A linked listing of noted Weil scholars in the United States and elsewhere.
Attending: An Ethical Art
Attending – patient contemplation focused on a particular being – is a central ethical activity that has not been recognized by any of the main moral systems in the European philosophical tradition. That tradition has imagined that the moral agent is primarily a problem solver and world changer when what might be needed most is a witness.
Moral theory has been agonized by dualism – motivation is analyzed into beliefs and desires, descriptions of facts and dissatisfactions with them, while action is represented as an effort to lessen dissatisfaction by altering the empirical world. In Attending Warren Heiti traces an alternative genealogy of ethics, drawing from the Platonism recovered by Simone Weil and developed in the work of Iris Murdoch, John McDowell, and Jan Zwicky. According to Weil, virtue is knowledge, knowledge is embodied, and the knower is nested in an ecosystem of relationships. Instead of analyzing and solving theoretical problems, Heiti aims to clarify the terrain by setting up objects of attention from more than one discipline, including not only philosophy but also literature, psychology, film, and visual art.
The traditional picture captures one important type of ethical activity: faced with a moral problem, one looks to a general rule to furnish the solution. But not all problems conform to this model. Heiti offers an alternative: to see what is needed, one attends to the particular being.
Warren Heiti is a Professor of philosophy and liberal studies at Vancouver Island University.
McGill-Queen’s University Press, July 15, 2021
Theatre as Creative Failure: Simone Weil’s Venise sauvée Revisited
Abstract: Simone Weil’s dramatic criticism and dramatic writing offer a way of reconceptualizing what it means to engage critically under fascist censorship. This essay explores her closet drama Venise sauvée as an example of her embrace of writing political resistance in a time when classical theatre criticism was absent and artistic resistance had been made futile. Simone Weil called for an awakening in the audience to acknowledge their responsibility of how they let theatre shape their way of thinking about war. I demonstrate that Weilian theatre theory does not only consider the stage an object to be analyzed, but also the very subject through whose lenses one can undertake a critical reshaping of ways to interpret the world. In this dramatic view on WW II Weil exhibits the artistic voices of resistance in occupied France as caught in its own echo chambers and thus no longer perceptible in society. The essay reads her unfinished historical tragedy Venise sauvée and its central motif of the silenced voice of resistance as an implicit warning to the contemporary théâtre resistant to become the agent of its own irrelevance. I propose that beyond this warning there lies a theory of deconstructing propaganda theatre by unleashing the creative power of theatre’s failure, namely via a distortion of the socially synchronized inner and outer stage of the audience.
Platform, Vol. 13, No. 1, On Criticism, Autumn 2019, pp. 17-30