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Simone Weil (1909 – 1943)


French social and religious philosopher, as well as a Catholic mystic.
Simone Weil
Simone Weil's intellectual and existential search encompassed several of the major religious and sapiential traditions. Since her religiosity was imbued by Greek thought, Gnosticism, Chinese wisdom, Christian mysticism, and Indian philosophy, it is not surprising that scholars have been especially attentive to her perceptive elaborations on the universal truths informing these — at first sight — hardly compatible spiritual world views.
Weil quotes
God's love for us is not the reason for which we should love him. God's love for us is the reason for us to love ourselves. [p.270]
Weil
[By 1939] Simone Weil had developed a social and political awareness which it took the war and the German occupation to awaken in many French intellectuals and beyond which many of them, including Sartre, have never progressed.




Weil Simone quotes
The notion of rights is linked with the notion of sharing out, of exchange, of measured quantity. It has a commercial flavor, essentially evocative of legal claims and arguments. Rights are always asserted in a tone of contention; and when this tone is adopted, it must rely upon force in the background, or else it will be laughed at.
Weil Simone
By saying Simone Weil's life was both comic and terrible I am not trying to reduce it, but mean to be paying her the highest tribute I can, short of calling her a saint, which I don't believe she was. Possibly I have a higher opinion of the comic and terrible than you do. To my way of thinking it includes her great courage and to call her anything less would be to see here as merely ordinary. Of course, I can only say, as you point out, this is what I see, not, this is what she is — which only God knows.
Simone Weil quotes
Weil’s critique of modern science consists of two parts, the first directed at classical (Newtonian) science, the latter at contemporary science, especially twentieth-century relativity and quantum mechanics. In each, Weil detects a species of thoughtlessness or failure of that prayerful attention that marks all genuine study and intellectual accomplishment.
Simone Weil
If a young girl is being forced into a brothel she will not talk about her rights. In such a situation the word would sound ludicrously inadequate. [p.63]
Weil Simone quotes
An imaginary perfection is automatically at the same level as I who imagine it — neither higher nor lower. [p.240]
Weil
The human soul has need of disciplined participation in a common task of public value, and it has need of personal initiative within this participation.
The human soul has need of security and also of risk. The fear of violence or of hunger or of any other extreme evil is a sickness of the soul. The boredom produced by a complete absence of risk is also a sickness of the soul.
Weil Simone
The thought of being under absolute compulsion, the plaything of another, is unendurable for a human being. Hence, if every way of escape from the constraint is taken from him, there is nothing left for him to do but to persuade himself that he does the things he is forced to do willingly, that is to say, to substitute devotion for obedience. ... It is by this twist that slavery debases the soul: this devotion is in fact based on a lie, since the reasons for it cannot bear investigation. ... Moreover, the master is deceived too by the fallacy of devotion.
Simone Weil
Capitalism has brought about the emancipation of collective humanity with respect to nature. But this collective humanity has itself taken on with respect to the individual the oppressive function formerly exercised by nature.




Simone Weil quotes
There is a certain kind of morality which is even more alien to good and evil than amorality is.
Simone Weil
Men ... ask nothing better, it would seem, than to leave their destiny, their life, and all their thoughts in the hands of a few men with a gift for the exclusive manipulation of this or that technique.
Weil quotes
p. 68
Weil Simone
Wrongly or rightly you think that I have a right to the name of Christian. I assure you that when in speaking of my childhood and youth I use the words vocation, obedience, spirit of poverty, purity, acceptance, love of one's neighbor, and other expressions of the same kind, I am giving them the exact signification they have for me now. Yet I was brought up by my parents and my brother in a complete agnosticism, and I never made the slightest effort to depart from it; I never had the slightest desire to do so, quite rightly, I think. In spite of that, ever since my birth, so to speak, not one of my faults, not one of my imperfections really had the excuse of ignorance. I shall have to answer for everything on that day when the Lamb shall come in anger.
You can take my word for it too that Greece, Egypt, ancient India, and ancient China, the beauty of the world, the pure and authentic reflections of this beauty in art and science, what I have seen of the inner recesses of human hearts where religious belief is unknown, all these things have done as much as the visibly Christian ones to deliver me into Christ's hands as his captive. I think I might even say more. The love of these things that are outside visible Christianity keeps me outside the Church... But it also seems to me that when one speaks to you of unbelievers who are in affliction and accept their affliction as a part of the order of the world, it does not impress you in the same way as if it were a question of Christians and of submission to the will of God. Yet it is the same thing.
Weil Simone quotes
Besides, it is written that the tree shall be known by its fruits. The Church has borne too many evil fruits for there not to have been some mistake at the beginning. Europe has been spiritually uprooted, cut off from that antiquity in which all the elements of our civilization have their origin; and she has gone about uprooting the other continents from the sixteenth century onwards. Missionary zeal has not Christianized Africa, Asia and Oceania, but has brought these territories under the cold, cruel and destructive domination of the white race, which has trodden down everything. It would be strange, indeed, that the word of Christ should have produced such results if it had been properly understood. (Section 9)
Simone Weil
By committing a crime, a man places himself, of his own accord, outside the chain of eternal obligations which bind every human being to every other one. Punishment alone can weld him back again; fully so, if accompanied by consent on his part; otherwise only partially so. Just as the only way of showing respect for somebody suffering from hunger is to give him something to eat, so the only way of showing respect for somebody who has placed himself outside the law is to reinstate him inside the law by subjecting him to the punishment ordained by law.
The need for punishment is not satisfied where, as is generally the case, the penal code is merely a method of exercising pressure through fear. [p.103]
Simone Weil quotes
If we love God while thinking that he does not exist, he will manifest his existence. [p.260]
Simone Weil
We should have with each person the relationship of one conception of the universe to another conception of the universe, and not to a part of the universe.
Weil Simone
He who does not realize to what extent shifting fortune and necessity hold in subjection every human spirit, cannot regard as fellow-creatures nor love as he loves himself those whom chance separated from him by an abyss. The variety of constraints pressing upon man give rise to the illusion of several distinct species that cannot communicate. Only he who has measured the dominion of force, and knows how not to respect it, is capable of love and justice. [p.192]


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