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“‘To Make Known this Method’: Simone Weil and the Business of Institutional Education”

Christopher A. P. Nelson

in Rozelle-Stone, A. Rebecca & Stone, Lucian, eds., The Relevance of the Radical: Simone Weil 100 Years Later, New York: Continuum, pp. 76-90

Simone Weil’s ‘Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God’: A Comment

W.J. Morgan read

The purpose of this article is to provide a comment on Simone Weil’s brief but seminal essay ‘Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God.’ It complements an earlier one on Weil’s Lectures on Philosophy. The essay was sent via a letter to her friend and mentor, the Catholic priest, and Dominican friar, Father Joseph-Marie Perrin O.P. It set out her belief that school studies should provide the individual pupil or student with an education in the value and acquisition of attention. This, Weil believed, would be of fundamental value when reaching out to God through prayer. Such a capacity for attention would also enhance the student’s general academic and social learning providing a basis for authentic dialogue with others, and not only teachers and schoolfellows. The article introduces her as a religious philosopher, explains the origins of the essay, and Weil’s friendship with Father Perrin, who was her Christian religious mentor, examines the text itself, considers some critical commentaries, and assesses its relevance to the philosophy and practice of education today.

RUDN Journal of Philosophy, vol. 24, no. 3, pp. 398-409

Simone Weil’s Christian Approach to Education

Jessica Hooten Wilson read

“When I question students at my Christian college about how their faith affects their learning practices, they stare blankly at me or scribble a note about being motivated by the true, good, and beautiful. But studying (and education) for Christians should look different than a secular approach, though many students cannot articulate these differences.

To clarify the connections between their beliefs and education, I teach Simone Weil’s “Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies with a View to the Love of God” (1942), a great essay with an unwieldy title.

Weil, born in Paris in 1909, taught for a number of years in the 1930s in France, where she also participated in the French resistance to Nazi occupation. A series of mystical experiences led her to affirm the truth of Christianity. Her reflections on school studies are directed to the Dominican Father Joseph-Marie Perrin in Marseille, intended for the benefit of the Catholic students whom he served.

Considering the context of World War II, Weil’s comments echo C.S. Lewis’ 1939 admonition to Oxford students, “Learning in War-Time.” To a church filled with young men ready to leave their studies and join the fight, Lewis insisted on learning as “advancing to the vision of God” and cultivating humility in the student. Like Lewis, Weil directs students’ vision toward the higher ends of education. . . .”

Jessica Hooten Wilson is a Louise Cowan Scholar in Residence, Humanities and Classical Education at the University of Dallas.

Simone Weil: Reason, faith, and empathy

Jeannine E. Pitas read

Excerpts: “What would Weil think of the world we inhabit today? . . . .”

“Whenever I read Weil’s words, I ask myself the same question. What would she think of the world we inhabit today? The fact that academic interest in her work has skyrocketed in recent years suggests that many people have the same question. What would she say about Brexit, a U.S. president elected on a platform of nativism and xenophobia, and the rise of far-right political parties across Europe? What would be her response to the five-year civil war in Syria and the ongoing reality of global terrorism? What would she say about environmental degradation and the mass extinction of species that human activity has caused? What would she make of artificial intelligence and the increased power that humans are choosing to give machines?”

US Catholic (May 31, 2017)

Jeannine M. Pitas is a writer, teacher, and Spanish-English literary translator currently living in Dubuque, Iowa, where she teaches English and Spanish at the University of Dubuque. She is also a regular contributor to the Catholic blog Vox Nova.

“An Approach to Simone Weil’s Philosophy of Education Through the Notion of Reading

Kazuaki Yoda

Studies in Philosophy and Education, vol. 36, no. 6, pp. 663-682

Awaiting God: A New Translation of Attente de Dieu and Lettre a Un Religieux

Bradley Jersak (Translator) with Introduction by Sylvie Weil read

Awaiting God (Fresh Wind Press) combines a fresh translation (by Weil scholar, Brad Jersak) of Simone Weil’s Waiting for God and Letter to a Priest (Attente de Dieu and Lettre un Religieux) in one volume. These works are considered Weil’s primary essays and letters.

In addition, Simone Weil’s niece has contributed an introductory article entitled, Simone Weil and the Rabbi’s: Compassion and Tsedekah, which puts Weil’s relationship with Jewish thought into perspective. She includes source material from the Rabbis that put Weil (however reluctantly) in line with rabbinical thought throughout her major themes.

The book is the ideal English introduction to the works and thought of Simone Weil, including important preface material (by Jersak) on how to read her work, as well as her relationship to Roman Catholicism and Judaism

Table of Contents

 • Translator's Preface
 • Introduction by Sylvie Weil

Part 1 — Essays 
 1. Reflections on the Right Use of School Studies 
 in View of the Love of God 
 2. The Love of God and Affliction 
 3. Forms of the Implicit Love of God 
 a. Love of Neighbor 
 b. Love of the Order of the World 
 c. Love of Religious Practices 
 d. Friendship 
 e. Implicit and Explicit Love
 4. Concerning the Our Father 

Part 2 — Letters 
 • Preface to her letters: Weil on Catholicism and Judaism 
 5. Hesitations Prior to Baptism
 6. Hesitations Prior to Baptism
 7. Departure from France
 8. Spiritual Autobiography
 9. Intellectual Vocation
10. Last Thoughts
11. Letter to a Priest