Simone Weil (February 03, 1909 - August 24, 1943)
Born: 3rd February, 1909
Died: 24th August, 1943
Nationality: French
Profession/Occupation: Philosopher
Region: Paris, France, Ashford, England
Notable works: religion

Simone Weil Facts

Biography

Simone Weil, (born February 3, 1909, Paris, France--died August 24, 1943, Ashford, Kent, England), French mystic, social philosopher, and activist in the French Resistance during World War II, whose posthumously published works had particular influence on French and English social thought.

Intellectually precocious, Weil also expressed social awareness at an early age. At five she refused sugar because the French soldiers at the front during World War I had none, and at six she was quoting the French dramatic poet Jean Racine (1639-99). In addition to studies in philosophy, classical philology, and science, Weil continued to embark on new learning projects as the need arose. She taught philosophy in several girls' schools from 1931 to 1938 and often became embroiled in conflicts with school boards as a result of her social activism, which entailed picketing, refusing to eat more than those on relief, and writing for leftist journals.

To learn the psychological effects of heavy industrial labour, she took a job in 1934-35 in an auto factory, where she observed the spiritually deadening effect of machines on her fellow workers. In 1936 she joined an anarchist unit near Zaragoza, Spain, training for action in the Spanish Civil War, but after an accident in which she was badly scalded by boiling oil, she went to Portugal to recuperate. Soon thereafter Weil had the first of several mystical experiences, and she subsequently came to view her social concerns as "ersatz Divinity." After the German occupation of Paris during World War II, Weil moved to the south of France, where she worked as a farm servant. She escaped with her parents to the United States in 1942 but then went to London to work with the French Resistance. To identify herself with her French compatriots under German occupation, Weil refused to eat more than the official ration in occupied France. Malnutrition and overwork led to a physical collapse, and during her hospitalization she was found to have tuberculosis. She died after a few months spent in a sanatorium.

Weil's writings, which were collected and published after her death, fill about 20 volumes. Her most important works are La Pesanteur et la grace (1947; Gravity and Grace), a collection of religious essays and aphorisms; L'Enracinement (1949; The Need for Roots), an essay upon the obligations of the individual and the state; Attente de Dieu (1950; Waiting for God), a spiritual autobiography; Oppression et Liberte (1955; Oppression and Liberty), a collection of political and philosophical essays on war, factory work, language, and other topics; and three volumes of Cahiers (1951-56; Notebooks). Though born of Jewish parents, Weil eventually adopted a mystical theology that came very close to Roman Catholicism. A moral idealist committed to a vision of social justice, Weil in her writings explored her own religious life while also analyzing the individual's relation with the state and God, the spiritual shortcomings of modern industrial society, and the horrors of totalitarianism.

Top 79 Simone Weil quotes

Difficult as it is really to listen to someone in affliction, it is just as difficult for him to know that compassion is listening to him.
Affliction
Compassion
Difficult
Him
Just
Know
Listen
Listening
Really
Someone
Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life.
Fiction
Imagination
Life
Make
Make up
More
Our
Quarters
Real
Real life
Than
Three
Three-quarters
Up
The danger is not lest the soul should doubt whether there is any bread, but lest, by a lie, it should persuade itself that it is not hungry.
Any
Bread
Danger
Doubt
Hungry
Itself
Lest
Lie
Persuade
Should
Soul
Whether
More than in any other performing arts the lack of respect for acting seems to spring from the fact that every layman considers himself a valid critic.
Acting
Any
Arts
Considers
Critic
Every
Fact
Himself
Lack
More
Other
Performing
Performing arts
Respect
The highest ecstasy is the attention at its fullest.
Attention
Ecstasy
Fullest
Highest
Humility is attentive patience.
Attentive
Humility
Patience
All sins are attempts to fill voids.
Attempts
Fill
Sins
Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention.
Anything
Attention
Capable
Giving
Need
People
Them
Those
Unhappy
Who
World
To be a hero or a heroine, one must give an order to oneself.
Give
Hero
Heroine
Must
Oneself
Imagination is always the fabric of social life and the dynamic of history. The influence of real needs and compulsions, of real interests and materials, is indirect because the crowd is never conscious of it.
Always
Because
Compulsion
Conscious
Crowd
Dynamic
Fabric
History
Imagination
Indirect
Influence
Interests
Life
Materials
To want friendship is a great fault. Friendship ought to be a gratuitous joy, like the joys afforded by art or life.
Afforded
Art
Fault
Friendship
Gratuitous
Great
Joy
Joys
Life
Like
Ought
Want
It is an eternal obligation toward the human being not to let him suffer from hunger when one has a chance of coming to his assistance.
Assistance
Being
Chance
Coming
Eternal
Him
His
Human
Human being
Hunger
Obligation
Suffer
Toward
I can, therefore I am.
Am
I am
I can
Therefore
An atheist may be simply one whose faith and love are concentrated on the impersonal aspects of God.
Aspects
Atheist
Concentrated
Faith
God
Impersonal
Love
May
Simply
Whose
Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.
Attachment
Attained
Detached
Great
Illusions
Only
Reality
Someone
Who
Beauty always promises, but never gives anything.
Always
Anything
Beauty
Gives
Never
Promises
To write the lives of the great in separating them from their works necessarily ends by above all stressing their pettiness, because it is in their work that they have put the best of themselves.
Above
Because
Best
Ends
Great
Lives
Necessarily
Pettiness
Put
Separating
Them
Themselves
Work
Works
Charity. To love human beings in so far as they are nothing. That is to love them as God does.
Beings
Charity
Does
Far
God
Human
Human beings
Love
Nothing
Them
To love
I am not a Catholic; but I consider the Christian idea, which has its roots in Greek thought and in the course of the centuries has nourished all of our European civilization, as something that one cannot renounce without becoming degraded.
Am
Becoming
Cannot
Catholic
Centuries
Christian
Civilization
Consider
Course
Degraded
European
Greek
I am
Idea
If Germany, thanks to Hitler and his successors, were to enslave the European nations and destroy most of the treasures of their past, future historians would certainly pronounce that she had civilized Europe.
Certainly
Civilized
Destroy
Enslave
Europe
European
European nations
Future
Germany
Had
His
Historians
Most
Nations
Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is the thing which separates them but is also their means of communication. It is the same with us and God. Every separation is a link.
Also
Cells
Communicate
Communication
Each
Every
God
Knocking
Link
Means
Other
Prisoners
Same
Separates
Culture is an instrument wielded by teachers to manufacture teachers, who, in their turn, will manufacture still more teachers.
Culture
Instrument
Manufacture
More
Still
Teachers
Turn
Who
Will
Nothing can have as its destination anything other than its origin. The contrary idea, the idea of progress, is poison.
Anything
Contrary
Destination
Idea
Nothing
Origin
Other
Poison
Progress
Than
If we are suffering illness, poverty, or misfortune, we think we shall be satisfied on the day it ceases. But there too, we know it is false; so soon as one has got used to not suffering one wants something else.
Ceases
Day
Else
False
Got
Illness
Know
Misfortune
Poverty
Satisfied
Shall
Something
Something else
Soon
A doctrine serves no purpose in itself, but it is indispensable to have one if only to avoid being deceived by false doctrines.
Avoid
Being
Deceived
Doctrine
Doctrines
False
Indispensable
Itself
Only
Purpose
Serve
Equality is the public recognition, effectively expressed in institutions and manners, of the principle that an equal degree of attention is due to the needs of all human beings.
Attention
Beings
Degree
Due
Effectively
Equal
Equality
Expressed
Human
Human beings
Institutions
Manners
Needs
Principle
The mysteries of faith are degraded if they are made into an object of affirmation and negation, when in reality they should be an object of contemplation.
Affirmation
Contemplation
Degraded
Faith
Made
Mysteries
Negation
Object
Reality
Should
Who were the fools who spread the story that brute force cannot kill ideas? Nothing is easier. And once they are dead they are no more than corpses.
Brute
Brute force
Cannot
Corpses
Dead
Easier
Fools
Force
Ideas
More
Nothing
Once
Spread
Story
For when two beings who are not friends are near each other there is no meeting, and when friends are far apart there is no separation.
Apart
Beings
Each
Far
Friends
Meeting
Near
Other
Separation
Two
Who
The future is made of the same stuff as the present.
Future
Made
Present
Same
Same stuff
Stuff
Real genius is nothing else but the supernatural virtue of humility in the domain of thought.
Domain
Else
Genius
Humility
Nothing
Real
Supernatural
Thought
Virtue
It is only the impossible that is possible for God. He has given over the possible to the mechanics of matter and the autonomy of his creatures.
Autonomy
Creatures
Given
God
He
His
Impossible
Matter
Mechanics
Only
Over
Possible
We can only know one thing about God - that he is what we are not. Our wretchedness alone is an image of this. The more we contemplate it, the more we contemplate him.
About
Alone
Contemplate
God
He
Him
Image
Know
More
One thing
Only
Our
Thing
In struggling against anguish one never produces serenity; the struggle against anguish only produces new forms of anguish.
Against
Anguish
Forms
Never
New
New forms
Only
Produces
Serenity
Struggle
Struggling
I would suggest that barbarism be considered as a permanent and universal human characteristic which becomes more or less pronounced according to the play of circumstances.
According
Barbarism
Becomes
Characteristic
Circumstances
Considered
Human
Less
More
More or less
Permanent
Play
Suggest
Universal
Humanism was not wrong in thinking that truth, beauty, liberty, and equality are of infinite value, but in thinking that man can get them for himself without grace.
Beauty
Equality
Get
Grace
Himself
Humanism
Infinite
Liberty
Man
Them
Thinking
Truth
Value
Without
We must prefer real hell to an imaginary paradise.
Hell
Imaginary
Must
Paradise
Prefer
Real
When a contradiction is impossible to resolve except by a lie, then we know that it is really a door.
Contradiction
Door
Except
Impossible
Know
Lie
Really
Resolve
Then
A hurtful act is the transference to others of the degradation which we bear in ourselves.
Act
Bear
Degradation
Hurtful
Others
Ourselves
Which
The role of the intelligence - that part of us which affirms and denies and formulates opinions is merely to submit.
Denies
Intelligence
Merely
Opinions
Part
Role
Submit
Us
Which
Whatever debases the intelligence degrades the entire human being.
Being
Entire
Human
Human being
Intelligence
Whatever
Every time that I think of the crucifixion of Christ, I commit the sin of envy.
Christ
Commit
Crucifixion
Envy
Every
Every time
I think
Sin
Think
Time
A mind enclosed in language is in prison.
Language
Mind
Prison
Every perfect life is a parable invented by God.
Every
God
Invented
Life
Life is a
Parable
Perfect
Perfect life
Nothing is less instructive than a machine.
Less
Machine
Nothing
Than
When once a certain class of people has been placed by the temporal and spiritual authorities outside the ranks of those whose life has value, then nothing comes more naturally to men than murder.
Authorities
Been
Certain
Class
Has-been
Life
Men
More
Naturally
Nothing
Once
Outside
People
Placed
I suffer more from the humiliations inflicted by my country than from those inflicted on her.
Country
Her
Inflicted
More
Suffer
Than
Those
Evil being the root of mystery, pain is the root of knowledge.
Being
Evil
Knowledge
Mystery
Pain
Root
There is no detachment where there is no pain. And there is no pain endured without hatred or lying unless detachment is present too.
Detachment
Endured
Hatred
Lying
Pain
Present
Too
Unless
Where
Without
A test of what is real is that it is hard and rough. Joys are found in it, not pleasure. What is pleasant belongs to dreams.
Belongs
Dreams
Found
Hard
Joys
Pleasant
Pleasure
Real
Rough
Test

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