Simone Weil's Iliad: The Power of Words
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Simone Weil's work has always been appreciated for its evocative beauty, but not always for its potential contributions to political thought. In this essay, we engage in a reappraisal of her political thought, and of her relevance to contemporary politics, by way of her discussion of the power of words. Weil shares much with contemporary approaches that view the world as a text to be interpreted. But for Weil, the power of interpretation carries with it an illusion, exemplified in Weil's example of Achilles watching over his war-work, in which the world can be seen, measured, and shaped according to one's will. For Weil, the illusion of control that accompanies this perspective is undermined by our encounter with a world of physical causes and sensations that impact us, quite without us being able to control them.