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Thursday 22 March 2012

Thoughts on Simone Weil

Simone Weil is one of my favorite philosophers and being in France reminds me of her great contribution to the mystical theology which joined philosophy, political activism and mystic thought.

She is buried in Ashford, Kent and last year, I visited her grave with a friend of mine. Simone was only 34 for she died and her writing may appeal to young people. I read her over thirty years ago and I had the honor of attending a three day conference at the University of Notre Dame concerning her thought. Simone never became a Catholic, although she loved Christ and His saints, such as St. Francis. She said she wanted to sit on the steps of the great cathedral which was the Church, waiting outside with her people, the Jews. I think she may have had the Baptism of Desire.

What is significant is Simone, who came from a brilliant family, represents the end of a generation of mystical philosophers, so common on the Continent in the 19th and early 20th centuries. As philosophy became more and more modern, post-modern, etc., separation between prayer and philosophy, between religious experience and philosophy and theology and philosophy has been irrevocably broken. Her death and her small grave symbolize to me the end of the great tradition of philosophy being the handmaid of theology.

At the end, she had a disease or condition which made it difficult for her to eat. Her biographer said this of her, that as she identified with the sufferings of the Jews and others in the War,  "As for her death, whatever explanation one may give of it will amount in the end to saying that she died of love."Sir Richard Lodowick Edward Montagu Rees, 2nd Baronet translated many of her works and wrote a biography of her. May her spirit of compassion and real thought be passed down to other youths who may want to restore philosophy to its rightful place in the Church and in the world.