An economic theorists' reading of simone weil

Aviad Heifetz, Enrico Minelli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In Economics individuals are defined by their preferences over the consequences of their own actions and the actions carried out by others. In contrast, Simone Weil depicts the individual as continuously re-constituted by the contact that he establishes with reality via his action. Such an action is aimed at achieving an effect in the physical world, but what makes it human is not success per se, but rather the fact that it stems from reasoning and planning. Affliction is caused by effort carried out mechanically like that of a beast of burden, when the individual has no opportunity to exercise reason for choosing how to confront reality's ever-challenging hazards and necessity. Simone Weil also emphasizes the importance of the socially forged language in affecting the individual's horizon and his ability to act meaningfully. In particular, foresight cannot be assumed in situations of oppression and affliction, which are extremely hard to communicate exactly because they imply an alienation between reason and action. These observations of Simone Weil suggest new dimensions which standard economic modelling has hitherto avoided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)191-204
Number of pages14
JournalEconomics and Philosophy
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 2008


Dive into the research topics of 'An economic theorists' reading of simone weil'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this