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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Simone Weil and the philosophy of reality


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons


Simone Weil (1909-1943) is a famous philosopher best known for her analysis of reality and consciousness. Philosopher Albert Camus says,


"Simone Weil, I maintain this now, is the only great spirit of our times and I hope that those who realize this have enough modesty to not try to appropriate her overwhelming witnessing." (Letter to Weil's mother, 1951)


Philosopher J. Edgar Bauer says,


"In her relatively short life, Simone Weil… created a body of work whose intellectual scope and acuity are remindful of religious thinkers such as Blaise Pascal or Søren Kierkegaard. Since no book by Simone Weil appeared in her lifetime and only a few of her writings were intended for publication, a noteworthy reception of her ideas took place only when selections of her notes, diaries and fragments began to be published posthumously after World War II." (Simone Weil: Kenotic Thought and Sainteté Nouvelle, 2002)


This post is a collection of quotes from Weil.


Absolute good


"There is a reality outside the world, that is to say, outside space and time, outside man's mental universe, outside any sphere whatsoever that is accessible to human faculties. Corresponding to this reality, at the centre of the human heart, is the longing for an absolute good, a longing which is always there and is never appeased by any object in this world." (Draft for a Statement of Human Obligation, posthumous)


"To anyone who does actually consent to directing his attention and love beyond the world, towards the reality that exists outside the reach of all human faculties, it is given to succeed in doing so." (Draft for a Statement of Human Obligation, posthumous)




"Although people seem to be unaware of it today, the development of the faculty of attention forms the real object and almost the sole interest of studies." (Waiting on God , posthumous)


"We have seen that language is something precious because it allows us to express ourselves; but it is fatal when one allows oneself to be completely led astray by it, because then it prevents one from expressing oneself. Language is the source of the prejudices and haste which Descartes thought of as the sources of error." (Lectures on Philosophy, posthumous)


"Science is voiceless; it is the scientists who talk." (Lectures on Philosophy, posthumous)


"Concern for the symbol has completely disappeared from our science. And yet, if one were to give oneself the trouble, one could easily find, in certain parts at least of contemporary mathematics... symbols as clear, as beautiful, and as full of spiritual meaning as that of the circle and mediation. From modern thought to ancient wisdom the path would be short and direct, if one cared to take it." (The Need for Roots, posthumous)


Philosophy of art


"Art is the symbol of the two noblest human efforts: to construct and to refrain from destruction." (The Pre-War Notebook, posthumous)