The CU Denver Philosophy Department hosted guest speaker, Scott B. Ritner, of CU Boulder as he talked on "Simone Weil Against Greatness"
Abstract: This talk will outlined the French philosopher, activist, and mystic, Simone Weil’s (1909-1943) anti-colonial and anti-fascist critique of greatness through a critical analysis of her political thought. Weil argues that the greatness of conquest and colonization is an ersatz (false and ungodly) greatness. Weil argues that the ersatz worship of this greatness is part of the path to fascism. Drawing from this, I argue that Weil’s critique provides an opening for the abolition of greatness as a political narrative. To make this second move, I expand Weil’s critique to the historically situated concept of greatness and her theory of the heuristic state to challenge reactionary ideals of history in the contemporary US. I contextualize this argument through reference to controversies surrounding the statute removals in the United States and elsewhere in 2020 and 2021 and the on-going public debates about so-called Critical Race Theory in primary education.
Bio: Scott B. Ritner teaches Political Theory and Political Science at CU Boulder, and current President of the American Weil Society. He is the author of several book chapters on Simone Weil’s political thought. He is currently working on a manuscript entitled Revolutionary Pessimism: Simone Weil on Politics as well as several forthcoming articles and chapter contributions on Weil’s thought. He earned his PhD in Politics from the New School for Social Research.