Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Simone Weil on philosophy as poetry

I think this will only be available for a limited time, so if you haven't seen it yet I recommend looking at this incomplete essay by Simone Weil.

Abstract:
In response to Paul Valéry's claim that “philosophy is poetry,” Simone Weil set out to examine the nature of philosophical thinking. She argues that it is above all concerned with value. In the course of her argument, she lays out the grammatical differences between thinking about value, and other epistemological endeavours. These differences mean that inconsistencies are not to be avoided in philosophy, and that philosophy is not a matter of system building. In the end, she also believes that thinking philosophically requires one to possess the value of detachment, and hence a readiness to be transformed.

9 comments:

  1. got paywalled so can't respond directly to the article but am increasingly suspicious of claims of abilities of detachment/readiness-to-be-transformed, does she give us a practice/technique to test?
    -dmf

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  2. I'm waiting for my interlibrary loan request for it to be fulfilled.

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  3. It's behind a paywall? I'm sorry, I thought it was a free preview.

    No, she doesn't provide anything that could be tested as far as I remember.

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  4. yeah, all the detached people i know are super ready to be transformed

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  5. Replies
    1. yeah they're ready to equivocate too

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  6. thanks, well sadly that's what I expected, reminds me to go back and read St.Fish on antifoundationalist theory hope.
    -dmf

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  7. From the essay: "...human nature renders philosophical reflection pretty much impossible. For since the mind is always straining towards some value, how can it stand back, detaching itself from the value towards which it is moving in order to consider and judge it, and to rank it in relation to other values? This detachment demands an effort, and every effort of the mind strives toward a value. Thus in order to make this effort of detachment, the mind has to regard this detachment as the supreme value. But in order to see detachment as the superior value, it is already necessary to be detached from all the other values. So there is a vicious circle here which makes the exercise of reflection look like a miracle. The word 'grace' expresses this miraculous character. The illusion of detachment, however, is frequent....The detachment needed for philosophical reflection consists in being detached, not only towards the values on has adopted beforehand, whether yesterday or a year ago, but towards all values without exception, including the ones that are guiding one's actions right now....That would be a miracle."

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    Replies
    1. yes, thanks. Only a God can save us as someone might have said...

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