Saints, Scandals, and the Politics of Love: Simone Weil, Ingrid Bergman, Roberto Rossellini


Now the problem is this. Have we found a positive foundation, instead of self-sacrifice, for the hermeneutics of the self? I cannot say this, no. We have tried, at least from the humanistic period of the Renaissance till now. And we can’t find it.

– Michel Foucault, speaking in Berkeley, 1980 (qtd. in Irwin 169)

The reputation of political thinkers is a tricky thing. Sometimes your strongest supporters are your worst nightmare. At other moments, your best friends can see you more clearly than is strictly comfortable. The French militant, philosopher, and mystic Simone Weil (1909-1943) is a good example. In the years 1932 to 1933, she was connected to the dissident, Trotsky-leaning Communist Boris Souvarine and his Cercle communiste démocratique. She taught philosophy to well-bred young women, organized the unemployed, led strikes and shouted from the barricades, while writing disciplined, methodical analyses of the limits of Marxism and the rational necessity of revolution

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