Simone Weil: Activity vs. Passivity

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Reply Sat 19 Jun, 2021 10:32 am
Just a short question, and I welcome discussion!

I am trying to get to the bottom of Weil's relationship to activity vs. passivity. For example, I have had it in my head that I want to make the critique that (though she went and empathised with those in factories or denied herself food to empathise with the poor) she wasn't really taking active steps to better their position in any definitive way.

In addition, there seems to be an aspect of passivity in her idea of attention, in the way that it is kind of effortful and yet a kind of 'negative effort' which I suppose could be read as a kind of passivity? My superviser has emphasised the importance of passivity in her writing but I'm not picking up on really what he could be referring to.

Also, though, she did have a strong focus on action eg. she criticised Descartes and formulated his idea to 'I will, therefore I do' or similar. Did she perceive that she was 'doing' in the actions she took towards others and so is it really a case of philosophical opinion ie. utilitarians would have wanted her to do 'the greatest good for the greatest number'? A related question would then be where the idea of the will comes into things. With the focus on negative effort, a kind of action and inaction, this is not really an experience of the will and yet she seems to have held onto that idea of willed action to some extent - judging from her commentary on Descartes?

If anyone has any answers or takes on whether these issues are resolvable with more reading and understanding or even if they are recognisable contradictions in her work, let me know.
 
Child of Monica
 
Reply Sun 16 Jan, 2022 09:24 am
@sophiepereira,
Though not a standard Catholic, she loved the liturgy and patrimony of the Catholic Church. She believed that Jesus was adumbrated in the Greek classics and they are not in any way passive, Yes, they have this idea of 'fate' but that goes along with their vicious views of God

“It is because the will has no power to bring about salvation that the idea of secular morality is an absurdity. What is called morality only depends on the will in what is, so to speak, its most muscular aspect. Religion on the contrary corresponds to desire, and it is desire that saves...To long for God and to renounce all the rest, that alone can save.”
― Simone Weil, Waiting for God

“The right use of the exercise of the will is a condition of salvation, necessary without a doubt, but remote, inferior, very subordinated, purely negative. Muscular effort pulls up weeds, but only the sun and water can make wheat grow. The will cannot produce any good in the soul. The efforts of the will are only in place for accomplishing specific obligations. Wherever there is no specific obligation, we must follow our natural inclination or our vocation, which to say the commandment of God. The acts proceeding from inclination are evidently not efforts of the will. And in acts of obedience to God, we remain passive. Whatever pains might accompany it, whatever deployment of activity might be apparent, they produce nothing analogous in the soul to muscular effort. There is only expectant waiting, attentiveness, silence and immobility through suffering and joy. The crucifixion of Christ is the model of all acts of obedience.”
― Simone Weil, Waiting for God
 
 

 
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