Who is Simone Weil?June 26, 2021
French philosopher and mystic.
Weil was born in Paris in 1909 to a family of Jewish ancestry who raised him and his older brother agnostic. All his life he suffered from headaches and sinusitis.
Weil’s ability to learn Ancient Greek at the age of twelve and read advanced books was a foreshadowing of his future talents. He finished second in his class at the École Normale Supérieure.
In 1919, at the age of ten, he declared himself a Bolshevik. In his youth he joined the labor movement. He wrote political articles, marched in demonstrations, and advocated for workers’ rights.
She received her teaching diploma in 1931 and became a philosophy teacher at the girls’ school called Le Puy. In addition to his teaching, as a believer in Marxism despite all criticism, he joined the unemployed and striking workers and joined local political actions. Although he later renounced his Marxist views, he continued to write his views on democratic and capitalist societies. Weil had a pessimistic view of the limits of capitalism and socialism. In 1934, he was forced to quit teaching due to his unconventional methods and started working in the Paris factory. Due to his poor health and lack of physical strength, he could not work much in the factory.
He returned to teaching in 1936, but now lost all his enthusiasm. In the same year he goes to Spain and joins the anarchist front in the Spanish Civil War. Doesn’t use weapons but works behind the line. He is injured by boiling water and returns to France.
After the war, Weil turned his attention to religion. He sought to discover more about God and his will for his own life. He had his first mystical experience while listening to the hymns sung by the monks at the Solesmes Monastery. After this experience, he devoted the rest of his life to discovering God’s will for his life and expressing the intellectual consequences of his experiences.
Weil was diagnosed with tuberculosis in 1943. He was asked by his doctors to rest and to follow a good diet, but he does not participate in political activities, regrets his country’s resistance, and limits his food to the proportion of his country’s people, often eating very little. His disregard for money does not allow him to accept special treatment. As his health deteriorates, he is forced to stay in a senatorium in Ashford, England.
Considered by some to be one of the most interesting philosophers of the 20th century, Simone Weil died of heart failure in August 1943 at the age of 34. The death report includes the following statements: “The deceased lost his mental balance, refused to eat and killed himself.”
Most of his works were published posthumously.
Gustave Thibon, who hosted Simone Weil at her home and helped bring her works to the present day by giving her manuscripts, wrote in the preface to Weil’s first published work, La Pesanteur et la Grace (The Gravity and God’s Grace, translated into Turkish as the following excerpt. this is taken from the Turkish translation) says:
“What can I add to these lines written half a century ago?
Light for the spirit and nourishment for the soul, Simone Weil’s work needs no updating, because it emerges from the height of being that transcends all times and all places. How can we date a thought of Plato or Marc-Aurele, a line by Eschyle, or the cry of a Shakespearean hero? The same is true for Simone Weil. True light does not go out, and true sources need no replenishment…”
For Andre Gide, Weil was “the most spiritual writer of this century”, for Camus “the greatest spirit of our time”, for T.S. Eliot “a woman with the kind of genius a saint possesses”. Critic Leslie Fiedler has described him as “a stranger as a Saint in an age of alienation”.