S. Weil’s relationship to Marxism is paradoxical because it unveils a loyalty to Marx in spite of ruptures and renunciations of the Marxist theory. S. Weil’s ties to Marxism seem discontinuous because after having adopted certain revolutionary ideas during her first years of political activism she criticizes Marx in the 30’s and ends up seemingly abandoning him in the last part of her life. This path, however, far from revealing the slow and inexorable disappearance of Marx’s concepts, rather, demonstrates the persistence and metamorphoses in S. Weil’s philosophy. We suggest then, that a criticism of the revolution followed by a kind of Christianity developed in the wake of a year spent in the factory, constitute S. Weil’s own special manner of being Marxist, even though Marxism seems to have become useless to her.
Les Etudes Philosophiques, vol. 82, no. 3, pp. 207-222
Richard Rorty once wrote that inspired teaching “is the result of an encounter with an author, character, plot, stanza, line or archaic torso which has made a difference to the [teacher’s] conception of who she is, what she is good for, what she wants to do with herself: an encounter which has rearranged her priorities and purposes.” In a teaching career more than three decades long, no author has influenced me more profoundly as a teacher and as a human being than Simone Weil. She has changed how I think about myself, my relationships, the world around me and ultimately about what transcends me. And this could not help but change how I am in the classroom. This essay is a reflection on how Simone Weil has changed my life, both in and out of the classroom.
Philosophical Investigations, vol. 43, nos. 1-2, pp. 8-18.
This essay considers Simone Weil’s experiences in factories and her social–political reflections on work, time and energy, in conjunction with arguments from theorists Melissa Gregg, Theodor Adorno and Sara Ahmed, to raise questions about supposedly humane interventions, including the cultivation of resilience, in the contemporary workplace. The transition from time-sense in factory work at the turn of the century is examined, along with the growth of corporate time management ideologies and practices in the mid–late 20th century, and finally, the associated forms of disciplining resilience/elasticity in the worker that bring together certain notions of time, space and psychological investments.
Philosophical Investigations, vol. 43, nos. 1-2, pp. 177-196.
A conversation with Alain Supiot, Verso, (August 19, 2017), from the print edition of l’Obs, David Broder, trans., (July 27 2017).
Reprinted in Catholic Attention
Simone Weil had an ambivalent attitude toward Marx. While she thought that the young Marx’s celebration of labor had “lyrical accents,” she ultimately believed that Marx had neglected his own insights, embracing a blind worship of mechanization and a theory of history and revolution that was insufficiently attentive to the material conditions of workers. Marx, in her view, was insufficiently materialist and excessively wedded to a hierarchical model of science that maintained the domination of management. Weil and Marx’s attitudes toward the dignity of labor and the necessary conditions for socialism are analyzed. The most significant cleavage between them is ultimately due to the differing manner in which they conceive of the relationship between thought and action. Through this comparison, the philosophical underpinnings of the two radically different conceptions of labor and its dignity as a human activity are explained.
The Review of Politics, vol. 74, no. 1, pp. 87-107
History News Network, Columbian College of Arts & Sciences, The George Washington University.
Simone Weil ― philosopher, trade union militant, factory worker ― developed a penetrating critique of Marxism and a powerful political philosophy which serves an alternative both to liberalism and to Marxism. In A Truer Liberty, originally published in 1989, Blum and Seidler show how Simone Weil’s philosophy sought to place political action on a firmly moral basis. The dignity of the manual worker became the standard for political institutions and movements. Weil criticized Marxism for its confidence in progress and revolution and its attendant illusory belief that history is on the side of the proletariat.
Blum and Seidler relate Weil’s work to influential trends in political philosophy today, from analytic Marxism to central traditions within liberal thought. The authors stress the importance of Weil’s work for understanding liberation theology, Catholic radicalism, and, more generally, social movements against oppression which are closely tied to religion and spirituality.
New York: Routledge Revivals, 2010
Beyond Power draws on the writings of Simone Weil (b. Paris, France, 1909, d. Ashford, UK, 1943) to construct a theory of authority that challenges conventional assumptions. Avery argues that neither science nor religion nor a political mandate can provide an adequate rationale for authority. Simone Weil’s electrifying insights, derived from her experience as a social activist, factory worker, and philosophy teacher, provide ways in which to think about the essential element of authority and take it into account more fully than usually seems possible. By focusing unflinchingly on what was sacred to herself and others in religion, politics, science, work, justice, and education, she achieved a kind of authority of her own. Avery devotes a chapter to each of these six subjects, as well as to an overview of the question of authority and a short account of Simone Weil’s life.
Beyond Power will be ideal for students and teachers of philosophy, politics, religion, and history, and the humanities. Those who admire the philosophy of Simone Weil will find a compelling overview of her work, while those interested in religious questions will find a fresh approach to thinking and talking about what makes human life meaningful. Avery offers new ways to examine the burning political, religious, and scientific issues of our time.
Lexington Books, 2008