At the age of ten, Simone Weil suspected that the Versailles Treaty expressed the will to humiliate the defeated enemy. Some time later in a letter to the novelist Georges Bernanos, she marked this perception as the kindling of her political consciousness. According to professor Athanasios Moulakis, this 'element of hurt pride in Weil's fundamental experience, humiliation redeemed by humility, plays a prominent part in her thinking.' In Simone Weil and the Politics of Self-Denial
, he examines Weil's political thought as an integral part of a lived philosophy, linking it to her epistemology, cosmology, and personal experience. Weil's principal merit, Moulakis maintains, 'lies in the rediscovery of the essentially dramatic rather than procedural quality of human existence.' He charts the shifts in her reform philosophy, from 'liberation' to 'taking root,' basing his study on her L'enracinement
(The Need for Roots). Weil's work abounds with such shifts and paradoxes. She sought earnestly for the place where truth and justice meet, locating it in the most elemental of human activities. Dissecting her political philosophy on the self, one discovers a strict asceticism: 'the trained relentlessness in viewing the realities of life, and the ability to face such realities and to measure up to them inwardly.' 266 pp.
An Eighth Day View:
"Simone Weil and the Politics of Self-Denial" delivers what no other book on Weil has--a comprehensive study of her political thought. In this examination of the development of her thought, Athanasios Moulakis offers a philosophical understanding of politics that reaches beyond current affairs and ideological advocacy.
Simone Weil--philosopher, activist, mystic--unites a profound reflection on the human condition with a consistent and courageous existential and intellectual honesty manifest in the moving testimony of her life and her death. Moulakis examines Weil's political thought as an integral part of a lived philosophy, in which analysis and doctrine are inseparable from the articulation of an intensely personal, ultimately religious experience.
Because it is impossible to distinguish Weil's life from her thought, her writings cannot be understood properly without linking them to her life and character. By situating Weil's political thought within the context of the intellectual climate of her time, Moulakis connects it also to her epistemology, her cosmology, and her personal experience.
"Simone Weil and the Politics of Self-Denial" presents the unfolding of Weil's philosophical life against the backdrop of the political and social conditions of the last days of the Third French Republic, the Spanish Civil War, and the rise and clash of totalitarian ideologies. The ideological climate of the age--of which Weil herself was not quite free--was indeed the major "obstacle" in the struggle against which she fashioned her critical, intellectual, and moral tools.
Weil has been categorized a number of ways: as a saint and a near convert to Roman Catholicism, as a social critic, or as an analytic philosopher. Moulakis examines "all" aspects of Weil's thought in the indissoluble unity in which she lived them. This thorough investigation pursues the particular intellectual affiliations and the social and political experiential stimuli of Weil's work while simultaneously teasing out the timeless themes that her own timely analysis was intended to reveal.