In this essay, Weil undertakes a meditation on the idea of “reading”, which she thinks can shed new light on a diverse range of conceptual and experiential “mysteries”, especially with respect to our existential responses to the world. A central concern is how we ascribe meaning and respond to phenomena. She argues that, for the most part, our reading of the world and the things in it are immediate, not subject to “interpretation”, at least as this is regularly conceived. Further, Weil says, our readings of the world are invariably tied to particular kinds of valuation, of ethical assessment and orientation, which appear to us as both obvious and immediate. This immediacy of reading, however, does not entail that our readings cannot be changed or challenged—only that such a change or challenge requires a particular kind of labor.
Comment: This is a unique and original analysis of the experience and phenomena of perception and its relation to ethical evaluation. It constitutes a distinct contribution to the philosophical literature, in part, because the ideas developed by Weil in the essay were original to her and not in response to any other thinker. The essay also showcases a somewhat idiosyncratic style of philosophical methodology that was unique to Weil - a blend of continental style, treating philosophy as poetic prose, and analytic method, laying out an argument in sequential premises which lead the reader towards a conclusion. As such, it might constitute an interesting contribution to a course that examines alternative philosophical methodologies, or underexplored women of 20th century western philosophy. It could also be used as an alternative text in intermediate courses on the philosophy of perception and sensation.