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The Dope on Weil: 1, 2

So, yeah, these Simone Weil pages were installed on the internet more than five years ago by someone who wasn't really present for the only philosophy course he ever attended. Later, when I was invited to join the American Weil Society I found out how unlikely such a page was from those folks. They sent me copies of the manuscripts for their yearly lectures. The essays were often very good. However, not only were half the reports typed in the uneven lettering of pre-electric typewriters, most of them had lines crossed-out and arrows pointing half way around the page to the replacement text. I mean, these professors were not just 15 years behind by not working on personal computers, they were 40 years behind by not typing on erasable type writing paper. We can expect a web page from them sometime in the year 2020.

Soon after I launched this site I began to get wonderful letters from fans of Simone Weil who were blue and white collar workers, students, house-wives or house-husbands. I never heard from any visiting philosophy professors, or any professors of any kind. That is until I received a book entitled, Simone Weil, On Politics, Religion and Society from an associate professor of Psychology, Christopher Frost, and a professor of English, Rebecca Bell-Metereau. The book is from Sage publications, London. It was first published in 1998 and is part of Sage's Women of Ideas series. On the cover of the book is this promise:

"This book provides a unique presentation of Simone Weil's life, work and her contributions to feminist thought. Long before postmodern or deconstructionist ideas became current, Weil was concerned with recognizing the absence of consistency and the continual presence of reversals and contradictions in life. "

I rejoice every time I see the word "feminist" and the word "Weil" on the same page. I've seen too many of those feminist lists of the greatest women thinkers that never include the only woman philosopher of the modern era that, for what it's worth, famous dead white men have hailed as one of the greatest thinkers of our age. However, "postmodern" and "deconstructionist," those are words from a lecture at which I was not present. I am therefore completely unqualified to evaluate Frost's and Bell-Metereau's Simone Weil. Nonetheless, I do want to talk about how much I liked its conclusion and for the rest quote from a generally very positive review Professor Frost sent me. The review is from the Association of Intergrative Studies Newsletter, December 1999. They despised the conclusion I loved, but understood and appreciated Frost and Bell-Metereau's "integrative methodology" referring to it as "a compelling and multi-textured consideration of many complex questions".

In that conclusion, "Decreation: Denial of Self," Frost and Bell-Metereau ask about the woman who is widely accused of having starved herself to death:

"Is there a difference between what Weil calls decreation and what most people might call self-destruction?"

They answer:

"Weil's decreation moves in the opposite direction from coping. By decreating her self, Simone Weil sought to remove the layers of cultural conditioning and shared illusions built up over a short lifetime, and she hungered for righteousness – politically, religiously and socially. She chose a life devoted to careful and accurate perception of reality, by way of attention and regardless of outcome. "

The Integrative Studies review complains about this respect Frost and Bell-Metereau show for Simone Weil's truth-seeking:

"[Simone Weil's] passionate embrace of truth … and her unbudging insistence on having the right view, call into question her compatibility with postmodern readings of truth claims."

Is that my old high school classmate I hear saying, "she's not a philosopher because she seeks the truth"? Thanks Christopher Frost and Rebecca Bell-Metereau for not fully satisfying The Integrative Studies reviewers expectations, thanks for not becoming mere actuaries of "truth claims."


© Brian Thomas, 2001

Plato's Cave

For Simone Weil's interpretation of this image see the Plato's Cave section of these Weil pages.

© Brian Thomas, 2009
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