Christian Theology

The Theme of Mediation in the Writings of Simone Weil

Janet Patricia Little read

A study of the theme of mediation necessarily involves a consideration of the two poles between which mediation takes place. This study therefore begins with an investigation of what Simone Weil saw to be man’s exile in this world, and his desire for the Good which is God. Since God is unknown and unknowable, this desire cannot be focussed on any particular object, and the soul must experience a void in which there is no compensation for spiritual energy expended. This process is unnatural, however, and painful to man, and he is frequently tempted to focus his desire for the Good on some earthly object; society, by creating the illusion of being greater than the individual, often fulfills this role, and becomes the object of man’s idolatry. If man refuses this idolatry and is willing to hold the contradiction posed by his dual nature he will find that all earthly creatures and objects can be mediators between himself and the God  he desires. In this way exile becomes a fulfilment, and the whole natural realm can speak to man of his supernat1;.ral home. All mediation-themes reach their culmination in Christ, whose suffering is seen as a perpetual cosmic process reconciling the universe with its creator. The study is therefore presented in three sections: dualism, idolatry (false mediation), and mediation proper. These are fully illustrated by reference to the whole sphere of Simone Weil’s meditations, religious, political and philosophical.

Durham University, PhD dissertation, 1970

‘Waiting on God’: A Radio Talk on Simone Weil

Iris Murdoch read

Excerpt: ” . . . . For Simone Weil the main fact of human life, and the fact which we must not flinch from if we are to find out any truth about it,8 is the fact of affliction. Le Malheur. For her, the centre of Christianity is the passion and the central moment of the passion is the cry of dereliction. The greatness of Christianity, Simone Weil says, lies in its seeking not a supernatural remedy for suffering but a supernatural use for the suffering. Let us see how she conceives this use. Her thought, although we have it in this scattered aphoristic form, is curiously systematic.

Two things strike one immediately about her ‘system’. That it is very austerely dualistic, and that it enunciates with a strange sort of confidence a view of the physical and of the spiritual universe which one might call ‘mechanical.’ The dualism is between La Pesanteur and La Grâce – gravity, this is gravitational force, and grace. All natural phenomena, including psychological phenomena, are subject to ‘gravity’, by which she means that they are subject to ‘natural law’ in the scientific sense. This realm of natural necessity is purposeless; things have causes but not ends. The only sort of finality which we can detect in it is the purposeless finality of the total ordering of natural things. . . . ”

Iris Murdoch Review, (2017), pp. 9-16, preface by Justin Broackes, (BBC broadcast, Oct.18, 1951, 7.40 p.m. on the Third Programme)


— Paul S. Fiddes, Iris Murdoch and the Others: A Writer in Dialogue with Theology, T&T Clark (December 2, 2021) (Chapter 6: “The Void and the Passion: A Dialogue with Simone Weil” & “Coda: With and Beyond Simone Weil: Between Murdoch and Theology”), pp. 155-204.

— Justin Broackes “Iris Murdoch and Simone Weil,” Royal Institute of Philosophy (2018), YouTube.

— Silvia Panizza, “The Importance of Attention in Morality: An Exploration of Iris Murdoch’s Philosophy,” Ph.D. dissertation (2015)