Attention, Decreation and Social Justice: Toward a Minor Weilian Politics

In the ever-growing body of literature on Simone Weil (1909-1943), few things have stimulated as much discussion, perplexity and disagreement as the French philosopher’s concepts of attention and decreation.  Most scholars would readily agree that both concepts are at the core of Weil’s reflections on the individual’s relationship with thought and with fellow human beings, and also, that both are essential for deciphering the more prescriptive things she had to say on the political.  And yet, both concepts seem to resist clear definitions.   Part of the difficulty here, I argue, stems from the fact that both concepts are intimately tied to Weil’s complex (and shifting) views on the relationship between desire, will, passivity and activity.  In this chapter, I invoke Gilles Deleuze’s understanding of the coincidence of activity and passivity to shed new light on this puzzle and to underscore Simone Weil’s relevance for contemporary continental philosophy.   In the last part of the chapter, I also indicate briefly that Deleuze’s views on sublanguages, inarticulate sounds and stutters resonate with much of what Weil had to say about minor/inaudible voices, the stammering of the marginal and the role of the affects in the perception of social injustice and exclusion.

A Research and Publication Project