Untimely Meditations on the Need for Roots: Imagining a Culture of Human Need in Nietzsche and Simone Weil




Abell, Jake

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This thesis identifies and examines similar conceptions of culture and education in Nietzsche’s essay, “Schopenhauer as Educator” and Simone Weil’s book, The Need for Roots. The two writers share the premise that culture, rightly understood and practiced, is oriented towards acquiring human metaphysical needs. I explore how both writers distinguish between such culture, understood as authentic, and various forms of “sham” culture. The thesis distinguishes between Weil and Nietzsche’s respective understandings of such cultural debasement, suggesting that each writer shares an understanding of culture as rooted in and in pursuit of goodness, beauty, truth, and justice. A comparison with Plato’s Republic suggests that Weil’s account of culture differs most greatly from Nietzsche’s account in its broad inclusion of political activity, suggesting that the unity of justice with beauty, truth, and goodness brings the political sphere into a meaningful account of culture alongside the fine arts, sciences, and education.