The Philosophy of Simone Weil
In the final entry to her London notebooks, Simone Weil writes "Philosophy is exclusively an affair of action and practice. That is why it is so difficult to write about. Difficult in the same way as a treatise on tennis or running, but much more so." (Allen, p. 157) In these next few pages I will try to relay the basic ideas contained in Simone Weil's works. Because of the extensiveness and complexity of her work, I will be using her words exactly, as often as possible.
Simone Weil was a trained philosopher and a teacher of philosophy. She was a political theorist and activist, a revolutionary, a laborer in the French fields and factories and toward the end of he life, she was a mystic. She believed in the transcendent powers of God. Much of her writing dealt with the ways in which God touches our lives, and the ways we can "find" or open ourselves to him. In her works, she spent a good deal of time defining and describing terms such as beauty and affliction, and describing solutions to social ills.
First and foremost it is important to understand the relationship the Weil had with God. She had many mystical experiences in her life in which she walked and talked with God. One of these experiences in particular is described in volume two of her notebooks in a brief essay called "Come With Me." In this essay she recounts a story in which God comes and visit her. He takes her up to the attic of a church where they live for three days, eating only bread and drinking only water. But she had interesting notions about him and his existence; not notions that would seem consistent with having met with him. She explains that God is "everything that we are not" (Little, p. 57 ). But she goes on to say that we can never speak of a true God because he is something that we have no capability of grasping. Following Taoism, she says she believes that God represents "the Way"; that he is not embodied in "the personal anthropomorphisized aspect of the Western inclination." (Little, p. 57) She felt very strongly that we could not know of his existence, but that he was there, that at times we should pray to him, even while wondering if he really exists. She says that "faced with two men who have no experience with god, the one who denies his existence is probably closer to the truth." (Little, p. 58 )
" Our soul is constantly clamorous with noise, but there is one point in it which is silence, and which we never hear. When the silence of God comes into the soul and penetrates it and joins the silence which is secretly present in us , from then on we have our treasure and our heart in God; there are only two things piercing enough to penetrate our souls in this way; they are affliction and beauty."
"Beauty. Impossible to define it psychologically, because of the fullness of the aesthetic contemplation. (Panichas, p. 421, 422)
In referring to nature's beauty, she says,
" Matter is not beautiful...