Zygon 43 (2):353-370 (2008)

Authors
Joseph Kevin Cosgrove
Providence College
Abstract
Simone Weil is widely recognized today as one of the profound religious thinkers of the twentieth century. Yet while her interpretation of natural science is critical to Weil's overall understanding of religious faith, her writings on science have received little attention compared with her more overtly theological writings. The present essay, which builds on Vance Morgan's Weaving the World: Simone Weil on Science, Necessity, and Love (2005), critically examines Weil's interpretation of the history of science. Weil believed that mathematical science, for the ancient Pythagoreans a mystical expression of the love of God, had in the modern period degenerated into a kind of reification of method that confuses the means of representing nature with nature itself. Beginning with classical (Newtonian) science's representation of nature as a machine, and even more so with the subsequent assimilation of symbolic algebra as the principal language of mathematical physics, modern science according to Weil trades genuine insight into the order of the world for symbolic manipulation yielding mere predictive success and technological domination of nature. I show that Weil's expressed desire to revive a Pythagorean scientific approach, inspired by the "mysterious complicity" in nature between brute necessity and love, must be recast in view of the intrinsically symbolic character of modern mathematical science. I argue further that a genuinely mystical attitude toward nature is nascent within symbolic mathematical science itself.
Keywords mysticism  work  physics  Jacob Klein  algebra  Pythagoreanism  theory of relativity  science  symbolic mathematics  Simone Weil  technology  spacetime  Albert Einstein
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1467-9744.2008.00921.x
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 53,682
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Philosophical Writings of Descartes.Rene Descartes - 1984 - Cambridge University Press.
Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy.Isaac Newton - 2007 - In Aloysius Martinich, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), Early Modern Philosophy: Essential Readings with Commentary. Blackwell.
Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.Galileo Galilei & Stillman Drake - 1954 - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 5 (19):253-256.

View all 22 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Analytics

Added to PP index
2009-01-28

Total views
130 ( #70,876 of 2,349,390 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #510,581 of 2,349,390 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes