The Self and the Selfless: Hannah Arendt and Simone Weil on Individual Action in Dark Times
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2020 has been a year of turmoil and all projections suggest that 2021 will bring more of the same. Beyond the pandemic we continue to face the harsh realities of climate change, the rise of authoritarianism, and the unending affliction of racism and structural oppression. We continue to witness starvation, drought, disease, unjust imprisonment, war, and genocide across the globe. There is no shortage of suffering nor of the machinations of evil that belonged to the era of Arendt and Weil. Though such suffering stretches across communities, societies, and nations, it nonetheless places demands on human beings as individuals. We are called to act, but the question is: what can I do as an individual? Who am I to act? What does it even mean to act? What is the source, nature, and limit of individual action? These questions, explored by Weil and Arendt, remain startlingly relevant today.
In conversation with Lissa McCullough and Elvira Roncalli, the goal of this conference is to bring together the work of Hannah Arendt and Simone Weil under the guidance of the question of individual action.