Davis demonstrates how Simone Weil’s Marxism challenges current neoliberal understandings of the self and of human rights. Explaining her related critiques of colonialism and of political parties, this book presents Weil as a twentieth-century political philosopher who anticipated contemporary political theory.
Simone Weil’s short life (1909–1943) is best understood as deeply invested in and engaged with the world around her, one she knew she would leave behind sooner rather than later if she continued to take risks on the side of the oppressed. In this important and timely book, Benjamin P. Davis presents Simone Weil first and foremost as a political philosopher. To do so, he places Weil’s political writings in conversation with feminist philosophy, decolonial philosophy, aesthetic theory, human rights discourse, and Marxism. Against the backdrop of Weil’s commitments, Davis reads Weil explicitly into debates in contemporary Critical Theory. Davis argues that in the battles of today, we urgently need to reconnect with Simone Weil’s ethical and political imagination, which offers a critique of oppression as part of a deeper attention to the world.
Benjamin P. Davis is a postdoctoral fellow in African American Studies at Saint Louis University. Davis’s scholarship is in the areas of human rights, Decolonial Theory, and Caribbean Philosophy. He has articles published or forthcoming in The CLR James Journal, The Journal of the Caribbean Philosophical Association, Transmodernity: Journal of Peripheral Cultural Production of the Luso-Hispanic World, and Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development.
Introduction: Simone Weil as a Political Philosopher
Chapter 1: Critique of Revolution
Chapter 2: Critique of Colonialism
Chapter 3: Critique of the (Neoliberal) Self
Chapter 4: Critique of Human Rights
Chapter 5: Construction of Belonging in an Uprooted World
Conclusion: From Theory to Practice
About the Author
In this moving account of Simone Weil’s political thought, Benjamin Davis merges world history and personal testimony, theory and living, brain and heart. He shows that one’s scholarship and one’s life cannot be separated easily.
This book made me understand Simone Weil in a thrilling new way. With clear exposition and forceful argumentation, engaging with Weil texts that are familiar and those that are often overlooked, Benjamin Davis succeeds in inserting Weil into the canon of outstanding twentieth-century political philosophers.
In his beautifully written and assiduously detailed book, Davis considers Simone Weil's politics of community, of self, and of thought. Approaching Weil as a sophisticated political philosopher, Davis illuminates an entirely new dimension of Simone Weil's engagement with the turbulence of her time. He does so with all the grace and attention one could desire, and provides an irrefutable argument as to why we should all be reading Simone Weil with Davis as our guide.