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Looking with a just and loving gaze: the concept of attention in the writings of Simone Weil and Iris Murdoch

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The central and unifying concept of this project is attention, which as defined by Simone Weil and Iris Murdoch, is a quotidian ethical practice. Both theorists are influenced by Platonic thought, a shared sense of the human condition and a common view of an active relationship between theory and practice. Their writings reflect their unique historical and biographical situations, including Weil’s mysticism and Murdoch’s work as a practicing novelist. The second part of the project is an active, personal investigation of the practice of attention to both other people and the natural world. Through the lens of my daily bicycle commute, I explore several themes including intrinsic or non-instrumental value, environmental ethics, and the cultivation of a qualitative ethical vocabulary through the practice of attention. I conclude with a brief analysis of Weil and Murdoch’s theory of attention as an ethical and contemporary re-imagining of Platonic thought.
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