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Lectures on Philosophy by Simone Weil

By Simone Weil

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But I share the distaste of Gustave Thibon for such reminiscences: like him, 'I loved her too much for that'. If 'a brother cannot speak of his sister as a writer can about a fellow writer', neither can a pupil speak in that way of a teacher she admired so much and who has had such a profound influence on her. Anne Reynaud-Guerithault's introduction 25 One must aim higher than that. Long before she became famous, I had carefully kept all my notes of her lessons. Simone Weil was too straightforward, too honest to 'cram us for exams' in lessons, and keep her real thinking for other times.

To believe that one feels one's own activity consists in feeling satisfied by this feeling: take for example those people who think themselves great artists on account of the unrealised ideas that they believe they have. Any fault amounts to being passive instead of being active. We only know our own action by its results. Sensations and time So, to feel is always to undergo something or other. The feeling by itself tells us absolutely nothing about the world or about ourselves. Sensations do not come to us at once as something definite.

Danger (herd of cows). Conclusion: we shall say that the materialist theory of the life of the emotions is completely consistent; there are no contradictions in it; it rests on the following ideas: The stuff of the feelings is made up of bodily movements (Wiliam James), and the bodily movements which make up feelings are all in fact either instincts, natural reflexes or conditioned reflexes, or a combination of all these (Descartes, Spinoza, Freud). One must add that it is due to language that we are able to move from objects to feeling or vice versa, that signs are what prevent us from surrendering ourselves to pure phantasy.

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