Grace

Simone Weil for the Twenty-First Century

Eric O. Springsted read

This in-depth study examines the social, religious, and philosophical thought of Simone Weil.

Simone Weil for the Twenty-First Century presents a comprehensive analysis of Weil’s interdisciplinary thought, focusing especially on the depth of its challenge to contemporary philosophical and religious studies. In a world where little is seen to have real meaning, Eric O. Springsted presents a critique of the unfocused nature of postmodern philosophy and argues that Weil’s thought is more significant than ever in showing how the world in which we live is, in fact, a world of mysteries. Springsted brings into focus the challenges of Weil’s original (and sometimes surprising) starting points, such as an Augustinian priority of goodness and love over being and intellect, and the importance of the Crucifixion. Springsted demonstrates how the mystical and spiritual aspects of Weil’s writings influence her social thought. For Weil, social and political questions cannot be separated from the supernatural. For her, rather, the world has a sacramental quality, such that life in the world is always a matter of life in God―and life in God, necessarily a way of life in the world.

Simone Weil for the Twenty-First Century is not simply a guide or introduction to Simone Weil. Rather, it is above all an argument for the importance of Weil’s thought in the contemporary world, showing how she helps us to understand the nature of our belonging to God (sometimes in very strange and unexpected ways), the importance of attention and love as the root of both the love of God and neighbor, the importance of being rooted in culture (and culture’s service to the soul in rooting it in the universe), and the need for human beings to understand themselves as communal beings, not as isolated thinkers or willers. It will be essential reading for scholars of Weil, and will also be of interest to philosophers and theologians.

Eric O. Springsted is the co-founder of the American Weil Society and served as its president for thirty-three years. After a career as a teacher, scholar, and pastor, he is retired and lives in Santa Fe, NM. He is the author and editor of a dozen previous books, including Simone Weil: Late Philosophical Writings (University of Notre Dame Press, 2015).

University of Notre Dame Press, 2021

Cinema as Metaxu

Anat Pick read

In this article, Simone Weil’s notion of the material world as “metaxu,” an in-between or bridge between this world (gravity) and the absolute (grace), is positioned within the tradition of cinematic realism to consider how the natural world in film functions as a bridge to the supernatural. In this way, the cinema intertwines ecology and theology in ways that are particularly resonant now, at a time of large scale environmental collapse and the search for new values to support human and other lives.

The Jugaad Project

Prophetic Voices: Simone Weil and Flannery O’Connor

E. Jane Doering & Ruthann Knechel Johansen read

This study juxtaposes Simone Weil’s exposition of God’s invitation to know and love the good through the divine signature of beauty stamped on the order of the world and Flannery O’Connor’s depiction of a society whose oppressive order allows some characters to oppose outright a divine order or to live under the illusion that the divine invitation is irrelevant because they, in their egoism and materialist values, are the centre of the universe. An examination of O’Connor’s and Weil’s ideas on order and beauty, grace and decreation, within the disorders of their contexts, reveals both writers’ skills in pointing prophetically through disorder to divine order, thus, disclosing bridges of revelation.

PhilosophicalInvestigations, vol. 43, nos. 1-2, pp. 101-114

The Paradox of Attention

Simone Kotva read

Philosophy and theology have long harboured contradictory views on spiritual practice. While philosophy advocates the therapeutic benefits of daily meditation, the theology of grace promotes an ideal of happiness bestowed with little effort. As such, the historical juxtaposition of effort and grace grounding modern spiritual exercise can be seen as the essential tension between the secular and sacred.

In Effort and Grace, Simone Kotva explores an exciting new theory of spiritual endeavour from the tradition of French spiritualist philosophy. Spiritual exercise has largely been studied in relation to ancient philosophy and the Ignatian tradition, yet Kotva’s new engagement with its more recent forms has alerted her to an understanding of contemplative practice as rife with critical potential.

Here, she offers an interdisciplinary text tracing the narrative of spiritual exertion through the work of seminal French thinkers such as Maine de Biran, Félix Ravaisson, Henri Bergson, Alain (Émile Chartier), Simone Weil and Gilles Deleuze. Her findings allow both secular philosophers and theologians to understand how the spiritual life can participate in the contemporary philosophical conversation.

Essay in Effort and Grace: On the Spiritual Exercise of Philosophy, London: Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 131-172.

Poetry As Decreation: Impersonality and Grace in T.S. Eliot and Simone Weil

Emily M. King read

This thesis posits that however separated T.S. Eliot and Simone Weil are by circumstance, political affinity, and Church affiliation, their thoughts intersect at a crucial point. While Weil’s theory of decreation and Eliot’s notion of impersonality are often cast as theological and poetic innovations, they both hearken back to the Christian mystical tradition – specifically, the aspect of via negativa. Placed alongside one another, Weil’s poetic mysticism and Eliot’s concern for the spiritual reveal the capacity of poems to decreate and bring the reader to a moment of void that awaits the fulfillment of grace. This thesis will study these topics with express consideration of Eliot’s Four Quartets and Weil’s notebooks, especially Gravity and Grace.

Honor’s Thesis, Department of English, Stanford University, May 2019.