Middlesex University, PhD
McMaster University, PhD
Both Simone Weil and Ludwig Wittgenstein hold mysticism—i.e., the belief in something utterly transcendent—centrally. The mysticism present in Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico- Philosophicus presents a problem: if “the mystical” is “deep” nonsense, and there is something important that cannot be sensibly presented in language, we are left in an undesirable situation. The mystical is taken to be of paramount importance but is ultimately inaccessible to reason. Weil, starting with political and theological considerations, arrives at a similar problem. A mystical position yields the “problem of mysticism”: There is the mystical; it is of crucial importance, and it is inaccessible to our reason. Weil’s mystical praxis of decreation is a solution to the problem. This does not present a way that we can come to the mystical, but a way that we can become aware of its revelation, which bypasses our reason.
Dalhousie University Halifax, Nova Scotia, MA dissertation.
Saint Mary’s University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, MA
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
Columbia University, PhD
Radford University, MA.
Baylor University, PhD
Duke University, PhD
In this thesis I develop the ethical implications inherent in a short paper written by Simone Weil, entitled ‘Essay on the Notion of Reading,’ with a view to exploring possible ways in which we are able to incorporate the unconditional value of each and every human being into our everyday apprehension of the world. Mindful of the fact that conceptions of unconditional value tend to be associated with religious belief, I make a distinction between religious theory and practical religious engagement, privileging the latter, in order to show the common ground between theistic and nontheistic ways of understanding unconditional value. My focus is on practical ethics, and the relationship between our direct and immediate ethical responses and their conceptualization plays an important part in my thesis, in tandem with an important distinction between absolute and relative forms of evaluation. The emphasis I place on the relationship between direct responses and their conceptualization is developed in the light of Wittgensteinian philosophical insights, both of Wittgenstein’s own and those of certain other philosophers who employ versions of his method. I also draw on both Platonist and Aristotelian conceptions of virtue, with particular attention to the relationship between our natural ethical responses and the terminology in which they find expression.
The University of Auckland, Ph.D. dissertation (2012).