Effing the Ineffable: The Mysticism of Simone Weil and Ludwig Wittgenstein

K G M Earl read

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.

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

The Intimacy and Resilience of Invisible Friendship: Marie-Magdeleine Davy and Simone Weil

Brenna Moore read

The title comes from chapter 4 of Brenna Moore’s new book, Kindred Spirits: Friendship and Resistance at the Edges of Modern Catholicism, Chicago: University of Chicago Press (2021) pp. 145-171. In it, Moore focuses on the bond between French medievalist Marie Magdeleine Davy (1903-1998) and Simone Weil. Davy and Weil were acquaintances, but after Weil’s death, Davy dedicated significant scholarly attention to Weil’s thought and life. She authored one of the first books on Weil in 1951, lifting her up as a model for a new kind of sanctity in the modern world. In the late 1950s and ’60s, Davy’s projects were animated by what Moore calls an “invisible friendship” with Weil. Spurred on by memories of Weil, in 1962 Davy created an experimental utopian community for international students in rural France, the Maison Simone Weil, in her friend’s honor. As Moore puts it, “Simone Weil, more than anyone else, was Marie-Magdeleine Davy’s invisible friend, her inner guide, and her saint.” The story uncovers one of the many fascinating afterlives of Simone Weil, one that has not yet been told to English-speaking readers.

Overlapping Consensus Thin and Thick: John Rawls and Simone Weil

Aviad Heifetz & Enrico Minelli read

John Rawls and Simone Weil presented two distinct conceptions of political justice, aimed at articulating a common ethos in an inherently heterogeneous society. The terms of the former, chiefly concerned with the distribution of primary goods, underwrite much of today’s Western democracy’s political liberalism. The terms of the latter, chiefly concerned with the way interaction is organized in social activities in view of the body and soul’s balancing pairs of needs, are less well known. We explain the sense in which the overlapping consensus in Weil’s notion of political justice is “thicker”, and may thus deserve more attention – alongside that of Rawls – for substantiating a democratic ethos within political liberalism.

Philosophical Investigations 39:4 October 2016, pp. 362-384