A Declaration of Duties toward Humankind
A Critical Companion to Simone Weil's The Need for Roots
342 pp $30.00
This book is a readers' companion to Simone Weil's The Need for Roots. It includes comprehensive and illuminating essays from recognized Weil scholars from the United States, Canada, England, France, and Germany, addressing the most pressing historical and contemporary aspects of Weil's thought and striking proposals. These include her substituting obligations for rights as the moral basis of society, her critique of our uprootedness and her proposals for rootedness, her critique of our dangerous understanding of greatness, the importance of work for society, and her critique of modern science.
This companion reader relies on the latest and most reliable work on the history of the Weil manuscript as provided by French scholars. It is unique in its thorough examination of the book's issues, which center around a spiritual renewal, first of France, but more broadly of western democracies. It includes a comprehensive introduction to the issues important to understanding The Need for Roots. Also included in the appendices are a new translation of Weil's preliminary study of obligations that was meant as an introduction to her work (but always published separately) as well as a translation of an address by Free French leader Andre Philippe—an address that helped set the moral issues that Weil would come to address.
The book is both a scholarly contribution to understanding Weil's book and a striking set of conversations about many of the most pressing contemporary issues surrounding the possibilities of a spiritual and moral renewal of Western norms. The ultimate point of this companion is to stress the importance of Weil's The Need for Roots. In a time of clashing ideologies, politics of identity, and a desire, somehow in all that, to find a path to community and a way of respecting all human beings, The Need for Roots is now, more than ever, a timely book and one that needs careful examination and reflection.
This collection of essays is outstanding. They demonstrate, in scholarly and insightful detail, how relevant today are the lessons that Simone Weil tried to convey in her Need for Roots. She wrote her book in the context of the ambivalent and fragmentary world that emerged during the Second World War. This collection shows how relevant her ideas are in our equally ambivalent and fragmented world. I cannot recommend this book too highly. It is a candle to light us in our darkening age."
— David McLellan, Professor Emeritus of Political Theory, Fellow of Goldsmiths’ College, University of London, author of Simone Weil: Utopian Pessimist