Mysticism

Theatre project explores the philosophy of French mystic Simone Weil

Staff Reporter read

‘Simone Weil: Performance as an experience of nothingness’ is a new theatre research project by Dr. Tyrone Grima, which explores an approach to theatre-making, inspired by the philosophy and the spirituality of the French mystic, Simone Weil.

The project translates in a practical and experiential manner the insights of the spirituality and the philosophy of Simone Weil, particularly those on art and theatre, to the performative medium. This with the aim of discovering a way of putting into practice the theoretical framework of Weil in theatre-making. Central to the approach is the notion of ‘nothingness’.

Newsbook, June 10, 2021.

Mathematics and the Mystical in the Thought of Simone Weil

John Kinsey read

On Simone Weil’s “Pythagorean” view, mathematics has a mystical significance. In this paper, the nature of this significance and the coherence of Weil’s view are explored. To sharpen the discussion, consideration is given to both Rush Rhees’ criticism of Weil and Vance Morgan’s rebuttal of Rhees. It is argued here that while Morgan underestimates the force of Rhees’ criticism, Rhees’ take on Weil is, nevertheless, flawed for two reasons. First, Rhees fails to engage adequately with either the assumptions underlying Weil’s religious conception of philosophy or its dialectical method. Second, Rhees’ reading of Weil reflects an anti-Platonist conception of mathematics his justification of which is unsound and whose influence impedes recognition of the coherence of Weil’s position.

Philosophical Investigations, vol. 43, nos. 1-2 (January-April 2020), pp. 76-100.

The Occult Mind of Simone Weil

Simone Kotva read

This article argues that Weil’s interest in occult and esoteric subjects such as Gnosticism and Egyptian mystery religion was not an eccentric sideline to an otherwise ‘Christian’ mysticism but emerged necessarily out of her philosophical method, which, quite independently of those texts where Weil deals with esoterica, displays that pathos of hiddenness so characteristic of occultism: the notion, expressed especially clearly in her late work, that philosophy is the search for a truth hidden from the eyes of ordinary persons and accessible only to those able to endure the ordeals required to gain access into its mysteries. In the second part of the argument, I show that Weil’s ‘occultism’ was not an isolated phenomenon but symptomatic of broader trends among intellectuals at the time.

Philosophical Investigations, vol. 43, nos. 1-2, pp. 122-141.

The Power to Say I. Reflections on the Modernity of Simone Weil’s Mystical Thought

Marc De Kesel read

Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society, pp. 165-181

Traces of Resurrection: The Pattern of Simone Weil’s Mysticism

Stuart Jesson read

Abstract: In her “Letter to a Priest,” Simone Weil makes the following, typically bold, assertion concerning belief in the Resurrection: “Hitler could die and return to life again fifty times, but I should still not look upon him as the Son of God. And if the gospel omitted all mention of Christ’s Resurrection, faith would be easier for me. The Cross by itself suffices me.”1 This statement has often served as an indication that Weil’s version of Christian mysticism has no place for the Resurrection. Throughout the collection of short essays, articles, and notebooks produced at the end of her life Weil reflects frequently, in profound and intriguing ways, on the significance of death, its effect on human thought, and its place in moral and spiritual life. Not only is death “the source of all untruth and of all truth for men,”2 the crucifixion of Christ becomes the center not only of her spirituality but also of her metaphysics; creation, for Weil, is the cross that crucifies God.3 In some of the more extreme formulations scattered through the notebooks, in particular, Weil gives that impression that she sees life as a cosmic mistake that it is the task of spiritual life to rectify, through acceptance of death: “Birth involves us in the original sin, death redeems us from it.”4 Death is the humiliating destiny of all finite creatures, but if one can refuse the various compulsive ways there are of evading the thought of this, and consent to, or even love this necessity, one thereby participates in the process of “decreation,” the eradication of the autonomous self.

Stuart Jesson, “Traces of Resurrection: The Pattern of Simone Weil’s Mysticism,” in T. Cattoi T. & C.M. Moreman, eds, Death, Dying, and Mysticism. Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Study of Mysticism, New York: Palgrave Macmillan (2015), pp. 49-64.