Simone Weil was a French philosopher, mystic, and political activist.
Weil was born in her parents’ apartment in Paris on 3 February 1909. After her graduation from formal education, she became a teacher.
She taught intermittently throughout the 1930s, taking several breaks due to poor health and to devote herself to political activism, work that would see her assisting in the trade union movement, taking the side of the Anarchists known as the Durruti Column in the Spanish Civil War, and spending more than a year working as a laborer, mostly in auto factories, so she could better understand the working class.
Taking a path that was unusual among twentieth-century left-leaning intellectuals, she became more religious and inclined towards mysticism as her life progressed.
Simone Weil became attracted to the Christian faith beginning in 1935, the first of three pivotal experiences for her being when she was moved by the beauty of villagers singing hymns during an outdoor service that she stumbled across during a holiday to Portugal.
While in Assisi in the spring of 1937, Weil experienced a religious ecstasy in the Basilica of Santa Maria Degli Angeli—the same church in which Saint Francis of Assisi had prayed.
Simone Weil wrote throughout her life, though most of her writings did not attract much attention until after her death.
In the 1950s and 1960s, her work became famous in continental Europe and throughout the English-speaking world. Her thought has continued to be the subject of extensive scholarship across a wide range of fields.
A meta-study from the University of Calgary found that between 1995 and 2012 over 2,500 new scholarly works had been published about her. Albert Camus described her as “the only great spirit of our times“.
Simone Weil Quotes:
1. “To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.”
2. “Everything beautiful has a mark of eternity.”
3. “We must not wish for the disappearance of our troubles but for the grace to transform them.”
4. “Compassion directed toward oneself is true humility.”
5. “Art is the symbol of the two noblest human efforts: to construct and to refrain from destruction.”
6. “Even if our efforts of attention seem for years to be producing no result, one day a light that is in exact proportion to them will flood the soul.”
7. “The joy of learning is as indispensable in study as breathing is to running.”
8. “Attention, taken to its highest degree, is the same thing as prayer. It presupposes faith and love. Absolutely unmixed attention is prayer.”
9. “Liberty, taking the word in its concrete sense, consists in the ability to choose.”
10. “The beauty of this world is Christ’s tender smile coming to us through matter.”
11. “The social order, though necessary, is essentially evil, whatever it may be.”
12. “Let us love this distance, which is thoroughly woven with friendship since those who do not love each other are not separated.”
13. “The beautiful is the experimental proof that the incarnation is possible.”
14. “The mind is not forced to believe in the existence of anything (subjectivism, absolute idealism, solipsism, skepticism: c.f. the Upanishads, the Taoists and Plato, who, all of them, adopt this philosophical attitude by way of purification). That is why the only organ of contact with existence is acceptance, love. That is why beauty and reality are identical. That is why joy and the sense of reality are identical.”