This thesis focuses on Simone Weil’s philosophical, ethical, and religious perspectives on affliction by clarifying the essential difference between what is necessary and what is good. According to Weil, reality is governed by blind physical and moral necessities. She claims that we experience necessity as constraint and constraint as suffering. But affliction, she claims, is something essentially different; it is not reducible to mere suffering. I will argue that Weil’s conception of affliction can be best understood as a momentarily ‘numinous experience’ of God’s absence or the feeling of the absolute good. Numinous experience, according to Rudolf Otto, is a kind of experience that contains a quite specific moment and which remains ineffable. What is ineffable can only be felt. That is, Weil’s investigation of affliction concentrates on the feeling response to the absence or silence of God, the feeling which remains where language fails.
A thesis submitted to Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts in Theology and Religious Studies, July 2014