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.
 
 

 
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