Rush Rhees

On the Differences Between Rush Rhees and Simone Weil

H.O. Mounce read

Rhees seems unaware that Simone Weil differed from him both in her conception of philosophy and of its relation to religion. She differed also in her view of the relation between religion and science. On her view, the aim of science is to find the laws which will allow us to apply deductive reasoning to nature. The necessities revealed had for her a religious significance. But this can be understood only given her view of the relation between God and the world. On her view, the creation of the world did not involve an extension of God’s power. It involved a withdrawal of his power, so that there could be an existence independent of himself. God does not interfere in the details of the world but sustains it through a network of necessities. For this reason, these necessities can serve as a sign of God.

Philosophical Investigations, vol. 43, nos. 1-2, pp. 71-75.

Discussions of Simone Weil

Rush Rhees read

The work of Simone Weil has not garnered the attention it deserves in the Anglo-American tradition. In this book, Rhees, the noted thinker trained by Wittgenstein, provides the most sustained critique to date of Weil’s views on science and religion. In this decidedly Wittgensteinian spin on the philosophy of religion, Rhees’ observations on the major themes in Weil’s work–social philosophy, science, ethics, and religion–are presented. The book shows how Rhees wrestled with difficulties he found in the work of Weil, someone he held in the highest regard.

“In the field of Weil studies, this book is a ‘gold mine.'” — Richard H. Bell, author of Simone Weil: The Way of Justice as Compassion

“Weil was a highly original thinker and Discussions of Simone Weil helps bring out that originality. Rhees also makes a contribution to the philosophy of religion, for here we get to see how a genuine Wittgensteinian approach might work in tackling religious questions.” — Eric O. Springsted, coauthor of Spirit, Nature, and Community: Issues in the Thought of Simone Weil

Rush Rhees (1905-1989) taught at the University of Wales, Swansea, for twenty-six years and became Honorary Professor after his retirement. He is the author of Without Answers; Discussions of Wittgenstein; On Religion and Philosophy; Wittgenstein and the Possibility of Discourse; and Moral Questions. D. Z. Phillips is Rush Rhees Research Professor at the University of Wales, Swansea, and Danforth Professor of the Philosophy of Religion at Claremont Graduate University, California. Mario von der Ruhr is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Wales, Swansea.

D.Z Phillips assisted by Mario von der Ruhr, ed., New York: State University of New York Press, 2000