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New Alain Website (in French)

Ronald Collins read

The following content is offered by bythe Friends of Alain Association, founded by his relatives after his death.

Re Alain and Simone Weil — this from the Alain website (Google Translate):

“The general meeting of the association of friends of Alain will be held, as every year in Vésinet, on Saturday June 10th. We will have the pleasure of hearing the best connoisseur of the work of Simone Weil, that is to say Robert Chenavier, on the theme ‘Simone Weil and Alain, inseparable and at odds.'”


Re Alain & his Propos (also from Alain website)

 “This is an introduction to Alain’s propos, 24 of which are translated here, most of them for the first time in English.

What is a propos ? The French word is both plain and ambiguous: a suggestion, a comment, a proposition, remarks, notes? Perhaps ‘proposal’ comes closest as a translation. With Alain we can be more specific. It’s a short column, drafted on two pages of letter paper, and, at the beginning, published in a local newspaper. From 1906 he wrote them daily and only ceased with the outbreak of war in 1914; he began again in 1921 and continued to 1936, to make a total of around five thousand. At first they were mainly political commentary, but Alain’s philosophy and very wide interests soon entered in. The brevity of the form brought out a vivid, pithy and forceful style, free of jargon, that soon attracted readers and would lead to republication as several books. They are short essays with the freshness of improvisation. As Alain put it, he found that he had a taste for firing arrows at passers-by to get them to look up from their path in life – provocations in short. And, as he wrote later, by not thinking that philosophy was too good for journalism, he invented a genre of journalism – to which I would add: he also invented a genre of philosophy.”




Mystical Experience: Women’s Pathway to Knowledge

Maria Clara Bingemer read

Abstract:  The mystical experience is generally understood as an affective one, made of love and union. The history of Christianity has been marked by this type of experience and owes to it some of its most luminous milestones and highlights. Christian mystics have been great founders, bright intellectuals, and paradigmatic figures in raising new issues for Theology and Philosophy theology, philosophy, social justice, and politics. In this article we wish to reflect and write about two issues in the vast area of mystical studies, focusing specifically on Christian mysticism:

(1) The link between mystical experience and knowledge; and

(2) Mystical experiences lived through by women as a pathway to and from knowledge. We will briefly highlight a few women mystics in order to set the stage for the topic to be further developed below.

Firstly, we will attempt to circumscribe the concept of mysticism by retrieving some of the main thoughts of scholars who have studied the mystical phenomenon and writings of individuals who experienced it. For this purpose, we will apply some elements from philosophy, but mostly from theology.

Secondly, we will pursue our reflection with the aid of thoughts by philosophers and theologians who thought and argued that mystical experience is and contains knowledge and bears not only affective and spiritual, but also intellectual, fruit. Thirdly, we will attempt to show how a significant group of women were the specific protagonists of this synthesis between experience and knowledge and how this allowed them to bring original contributions to their context and historical time.

We conclude with a detailed commentary and reflection on the French 20th-century mystic Simone Weil who, as both an intellectual and a mystic, was a pioneer in bringing a prophetic vision on some issues that would inspire society, the Church, and spiritual life many decades after her death. As such, she became a paradigmatic figure who demonstrated that intellectual ability does not entail only rational thinking, but consists in a great level of spiritual sensitivity, which brings altogether an enormous responsibility in leading humanity towards fulfilling its vocation to live fully. Our conclusions will be based on the countercultural benefits that mystical experience, as lived through by women, can bring to contemporary times.”

  • Religions, vol. 14, no.2 (Jan. 2023), p. 230.

Maria Clara Bingemer (PhD, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome) is a noted Brazilian theologian. A full professor at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC), she focuses her research on systematic theology, mysticism, and in particular on Latin American and liberation theology. Bingemer’s current research project is on Mysticism and Testimony: a study of knowledge, language and praxis in contemporary mysticism.


Eric Voegelin’s and Simone Weil’s return to Ancient Greece

Thomas Sojer read

Summary: Two enigmatic figures of 20th-century political theory, Eric Voegelin and Simone Weil, stand out with idiosyncratic receptions of ancient Greek texts. Both thinkers diagnosed that, as political agents in late modernity, we have unlearned to read world-making ancient texts and their narratives in their cosmic dimension and thus lost what has rooted European culture and history. Against this backdrop, Voegelin and Weil share ‘antidotal’ practises of combining historically and generically distinct material. These practices aim at fathoming a primordial experience at work in European narratives. With this comparative analysis of Voegelin’s and Weil’s symbolic readings (exemplified in this paper by passages from the Iliad, the History of the Peloponnesian War, and the Symposium), Thomas Sojer presents some considerations how their combinatory imagination of ancient material could supply late modern political agents with a pathos, a meaningful self-world relationship that was thought to have gone missing.


Questioning Greece with Heidegger and Simone Weil

Maria Villela-Petit read

Abstract: “In this book a long-time student of phenomenology and of Greek art and philosophy stages a “loving quarrel” between two daring thinkers who loved Greece but had diametrically opposed interpretations of its legacy. Maria Villela-Petit brings out unsuspected strengths in Simone Weil’s readings of Homer, Plato, and Greek Tragedy and unsuspected weaknesses in Heidegger’s historical construction and the tradition of German philhellenism which shaped it.”