Spirituality

Simone Weil’s Reflections on the Pythagoreans

D.K. Levy read

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Summary of paper for F[ather] P[errin].

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Mathematical truth was initially theological (Philolaus).{257}  Mediation for the non-square, unjust numbers (Aristotle).{256}  Logoi alogoi, scandal, absurdity.{259}  Passage from the Timaeus on geometric mediation.{253} Epinomis.{258} Natural law, function and proportion.{260}

Invention of demonstrative proof (the soul of our science, including the experimental method), due to the Greeks’ need of certainty for divine things, even in their images.{260}  Numbers, choice image

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of divine things on account of their certainty.  But the real number is better.  Certainty and non-representability.   Introduction to faith.{261}

Scale from the least to the most certain and from the most to the least representable.  Mathematics [is] intermediate.  At the same time, epitome of the mechanism that governs matter and image of divine truths.  [And] at the same time, it has mediation at the core.{261}

Astonishing poetry.  Revelation.{261}

This need for certitude in divine things had been lost.{261}

Lately the need for rigour in mathematics has been found again.  That can be a path.  For in mathematics there is no objective.{261}

[ms. 29]

Using mathematics to make felt the possibility of certainty concerning that which one does not understand.  To mould mathematics for this purpose.{262}

(Koan.  It is that which one does not understand that one is certain about. It is the opaque which alone is seen.)

Providential arrangement precluding mathematics from lapsing into technique.{262}

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φιλίαν εἶναi ἐναρμόνιον ἰσότητα. [friendship is an equality composed of harmony]{262}

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1. Trinity, ἁρμονία, δίχα φρονεόντων συμφρόνησις. [harmony, the common thought of those thinking separately]{262}

Proof of the Trinity. God the subject. But also the object and the link between the two in him. And each of these things is “I am”.  Plato, Same and Different.{263}

Equality between one and many, between one and two. {263}

(The one, άρχή [arché] and the first to be put together. Phil[olaus].){263}

(Saint Augustine, aequalitas, connexio.) [equality, connection]{264}

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2. Opposition between the creator and the creature, limiting and unlimited.  Second pair of opposites in God (Philebus).{264}  The most beautiful harmony, the maximum of separation and of unity.  That a divine Person should be a thing, inert matter. (an enslaved man and dying in agony).  Christ’s agony. “Why have you [forsaken] me…”  Christ has many young brothers.{265}

Limit = number.  Philebus: one and many (Trinity), limit and unlimited (creation).  Number, mean proportional.

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Philebus: every study reproduces this hierarchy.  Intelligence, an image of faith.{264}

[Passage to the limit, solution to insoluble difficulties.  E.g. Christ’s agony.] [her brackets]{265}

δίχα φρονεόντων. — “My God, why…?” — συμφρόνησις, one single God.  Love that exceeds all knowledge. [the common thought…of those thinking separately]{265}

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3. Friendship between God and man.  Harmony as mean proportional. Mediation. Timaeus, Symposium, Epinomis, St. John. Friendship, geometric equality in the Gorgias. “No one enters through here unless he is a geometer.” Ὁ θεὸς ἀεὶ γεωμετρεῖ (double meaning). [God is a perpetual geometer.] Geometry, the first of the prophecies.  That is why science has become diabolical.  The true relation of science to charity, analogous to Gregorian chant.{266}

[ms. 30]

Demonstrative rigour is to science as stone is to sculpture.{267}

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4. Friendship between men.{267}  According to nature, either [the] I is at the centre (perspective), or else another who dominates me by brute force is, and the rest are only particles of the universe, {268} save in the exceptional case of natural justice (Thucydides, Athenians and Melians)—Friendship is identical to supernatural justice.  Christ, mediator between men.{269}

“We”, a collective feeling, false friendship, without harmony, since here the terms are of the same kind, the same root, the same level.{271}

Supernatural justice, operation analogous to the one that overcomes perspective.  No centre within the world, only outside the world.  Renouncing through love of God the illusory power that he leaves us to say, “I am.”  Not, as some do, by transferring it onto Him, like Oneone onto Phaedra or Pylades onto Orestes.{269}  For the true I am of God differs infinitely from our, illusory one.  Renunciation without transfer.  That is the love of God.  But since any real human thought is of a concrete object here below, [the love] initially presents itself either as love of the beauty of the world or as love of one’s neighbour.  This renunciation is the abandonment of all one’s goods in order to follow Christ.  Social standing is only a boost to the ability to say “I”.  The acceptance of poverty, “If one wants to become invisible…”{270}

Harmony, here, [is] unity of opposites.  Opposites: me and

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the other. Unity only in God — Justice and love (of one’s neighbour), identical.{270}

God [is] mediation between God and God, God and man, man and man.  One single harmony.{271}

Christ [is] always present between two true friends.  Conversely the statement, “If two or three…” is the promise to his friends of human friendship.{271}

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5. Harmony in things. — 1] between things and God. 2] between things.[her brackets]  In the two cases, mediation is limit, which is also λόγος and ἀριθμός [relation and number] — Things, men, included as natural beings (myself included).{272}

[ms. 31]

The opposition [between] limit-unlimited encompasses all theories of knowledge.{272}

Philolaus. Number gives a body to things.  Gnomon, i.e. invariant and variation group.{272} Cube (Lagneau). The cube is actually the body of the [cuboid] box.  The reality of the perceptible universe is mathematical necessity.  Theory of perception.  Matter, only a support for necessity, which being conditional needs a support.{273}

Necessity: set of laws of variation determined by fixed relations and invariants.{274}

Reality = contact with a necessity — (contradiction: necessity is not tangible. Harmony, mystery.[)]{273}

Cube, transcendent in relation to the appearances of the [cuboid] box.{273}

Necessity, [being] conditional, supported by a matter (Timaeus) of which water (baptism) is the image.  Mer, mère, matière, Marie…[Sea, mother, matter, Mary…] The essence of necessity (variation and invariant) is function. Example. (See margin) [the figure page1image43647392.png is in the margin] Function, proportion, λόγος, ἀριθμός. [relation, number]{274}

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Necessity, enemy for the man who says I.  [It is] a slave in reverie (and through social domination).  A brutal master in affliction.  Natural equilibrium is apparent at the optimum point of methodical action.  (Same 3 relations between men.)  This equilibrium joined to natural justice would be natural happiness.  The legislator’s objective.{274}

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But this equilibrium is [only] an appearance.  Being fatigued makes one sense this.  The human will is also an inert thing.{275}

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In the practical experience of necessity, illusions are always attached |in the service| to the exercise of the will.  Necessity is thought of in a pure way only as theoretical and conditional.  There, man is absent, except as regards the very operation of thought. Any concrete knowledge of facts, even human ones, is a recognition in them of a mathematical, or analogous, necessity.{275}

(Each time in a specific form.  Analogy with embodiment.)

Relation of necessity to man, thus, not of master to slave, or of equals, but of painting to looking.  In that looking is born the supernatural faculty of consent.  One does not consent to force as such (for it compels), but as necessity—Pure intelligence is at the intersection of nature and the supernatural.{276}

[ms. 32]

This consent is a madness that responds to the triple madness of God (Creation, Incarnation, Passion), but primarily to the first.{276}

λόγος, name of Necessity, given to the Beloved — Light and rain in the Gospels, Stoicism.{278}

Necessity, mediator between the natural part of us and supernatural consent.{278}

By analogy, conceived as mediator between matter and God.{278} Creation and ordering action.{279}  Zeus and Bacchus.{280}  Myth of the Chaos.{279}  Necessity, willed to a much higher level by God.{280}

Mediator between thing and thing.  Anaximander.  Disequilibrium oscillating, [is] equilibrium refracted in time.{279}

God mediator between

God and God

God and man

Man and man

God and things

A thing and a thing

Me and me.{289}

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God is mediation, and in itself everything is divine mediation.{289}

Analogically, for human thought, everything is relation—λόγος.[relation]{289}

Relation is divine mediation.  Divine mediation is God.{289}

“All is number.” {289}

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God thinks necessity.  Necessity is, because he thinks it.  God’s thought is his Son.{279}

The order of the world in God is the orderer [of the world]. In God, everything is subject.{279}

In itself, isolated, every phenomenon is an active principle of the destruction of the universal order.  Through its connection this order is totally present within it.{279}

The “I” keeps us confined within necessity just like the vault of heaven and the surface of the earth. We see necessity from the side that is brute domination.  The renunciation of the “I” moves us through to the other side, puncturing the egg of the world.  We then see necessity from the side that is obedience.  [Being] the children of this household, we love the docility of this slave.{280}

Necessity — freedom; obedience is their unity.{280}

Necessity, the obedience of matter to God.{280}

The idea of a miracle, devoid of meaning.{280}

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One consents to necessity before knowing that this consent pierces the [ms. 33] egg [of the world].  God consents for us in us.{280}

The natural part of us remains in the egg.

What a horizontal plane is to its two sides, necessity is to domination and obedience.{281}

As necessity in God is a thinking Person, so in us it is thought in action, a relation conceived, a proof by demonstration (Spinoza).{281}

1 and 1 do not make 2 without addition.{281}

Attention [is] creative of necessary connections.  (Those which do not depend on the attention are not so.){281}

The involvement of necessity in part in constraint, and in part in intelligence, justice, beauty, faith (symbolic language of divine truths — circular and alternating m[o]v[emen]t  — √2 even and odd, etc.).{281}

Attention of the intelligence, the image of Wisdom.{281}

Intelligence, intersection of nature and the supernatural.  Produces a semi-reality (conditional necessity). Love (consent) produces reality.{282}

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Beauty, pure joy: complicity of the body and the natural part of the soul with the faculty of supernatural consent.  Indispensable, even to those who have a vocation for the Cross.{283}

The feeling of beauty, perceptible feeling, in the carnal part of

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the soul and even in the body, that this necessity which is constraint is also obedience to God.{284}

Image of the mysteries of faith in mathematics.  Mathematics, rational and abstract science, concrete science of nature, mysticism.{284}

Universe, a compact mass of obedience with luminous points.  Everything is beautiful.{286}

Each one [is] also (small mass, a point). Water and spirit.{287}

Mysterious influence (but without [the] violation of [any] laws), on nature, from the presence of supernatural love.{287}

Philolaus. The key.{288}

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Philebus.  Anguish and joy. Anguish and revelation of the beauty of the world: Job.{288}

[ms. 34]

Beauty — Operation of pure intelligence in the conception of theoretical necessity and [its] embodiment in concrete knowledge of the world and of practical skills — Flashes of justice, of compassion, of gratitude between men — Three supernatural mysteries constantly present right at the core of nature {288} — Three doors open upon the central door which is Christ.{289}

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For us, everything is relation.{289}

In itself, everything is mediation, divine mediation.  God is mediation.  All mediation is God.{289}

Supreme mediation, supreme harmony between the why of Christ (repeated unceasingly by every soul in affliction) and the silence of the Father.  The universe (including us) is the vibration of this harmony.{290}

(One does not truly comprehend the universe and the destiny of men, especially the effect of affliction on the souls of innocents, except by understanding that they were created, the one as the Cross, the others as the brothers of Christ crucified.){290}

To address the danger of pantheistic error in this comparison, comparison of the cube and the cuboid box.{291}

Thus, touching God through all [there is].{292}

Mystical Experience: Women’s Pathway to Knowledge

Maria Clara Bingemer read

Abstract:  The mystical experience is generally understood as an affective one, made of love and union. The history of Christianity has been marked by this type of experience and owes to it some of its most luminous milestones and highlights. Christian mystics have been great founders, bright intellectuals, and paradigmatic figures in raising new issues for Theology and Philosophy theology, philosophy, social justice, and politics. In this article we wish to reflect and write about two issues in the vast area of mystical studies, focusing specifically on Christian mysticism:

(1) The link between mystical experience and knowledge; and

(2) Mystical experiences lived through by women as a pathway to and from knowledge. We will briefly highlight a few women mystics in order to set the stage for the topic to be further developed below.

Firstly, we will attempt to circumscribe the concept of mysticism by retrieving some of the main thoughts of scholars who have studied the mystical phenomenon and writings of individuals who experienced it. For this purpose, we will apply some elements from philosophy, but mostly from theology.

Secondly, we will pursue our reflection with the aid of thoughts by philosophers and theologians who thought and argued that mystical experience is and contains knowledge and bears not only affective and spiritual, but also intellectual, fruit. Thirdly, we will attempt to show how a significant group of women were the specific protagonists of this synthesis between experience and knowledge and how this allowed them to bring original contributions to their context and historical time.

We conclude with a detailed commentary and reflection on the French 20th-century mystic Simone Weil who, as both an intellectual and a mystic, was a pioneer in bringing a prophetic vision on some issues that would inspire society, the Church, and spiritual life many decades after her death. As such, she became a paradigmatic figure who demonstrated that intellectual ability does not entail only rational thinking, but consists in a great level of spiritual sensitivity, which brings altogether an enormous responsibility in leading humanity towards fulfilling its vocation to live fully. Our conclusions will be based on the countercultural benefits that mystical experience, as lived through by women, can bring to contemporary times.”

  • Religions, vol. 14, no.2 (Jan. 2023), p. 230.

Maria Clara Bingemer (PhD, Pontifical Gregorian University, Rome) is a noted Brazilian theologian. A full professor at Pontifícia Universidade Católica do Rio de Janeiro (PUC), she focuses her research on systematic theology, mysticism, and in particular on Latin American and liberation theology. Bingemer’s current research project is on Mysticism and Testimony: a study of knowledge, language and praxis in contemporary mysticism.

Book Review: Simone Weil for the Twenty-First Century by Eric O. Springsted

Marie Cabaud Meaney read

In his book, Simone Weil in the Twenty-First Century, Eric Springsted–pioneering Weil–specialist in the USA as well as co-founder and long-time president of the American Weil society–-reveals his thorough knowledge and deep understanding of this French philosopher and mystic. In dialogue with thinkers such as Ludwig Wittgenstein, Michael Foster, Gabriel Marcel, Henri de Luba, and Jacques Maritain, he covers much ground in his book’s fourteen chapters, focusing in the first part on Weil’ philosophical and theological thought before turning to her social and political thinking.

The themes range from the place of mystery and the supernatural in Weil’s philosophy to her understanding of obligations, the need for roots, the role of culture, and the relationship between religion and politics. Though there is no central argument holding these different chapters together–-indeed, eleven of the fourteen chapters were published in earlier versions in various journals– the book does justice to Weil’s diverse interests . . . .

Theology Today, vol. 79, no. 3, p. 352 (2022)

 

Simone Weil: Waiting for God (parts 1 and 2)–The God Frequency

Abi Doukhan watch

Abi Doukhan is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Queens College of the City University of New York (CUNY), and holds the Pearl and Nathan Halegua Family Initiative in Ethics and Tolerance. She holds a Masters in philosophy from the Sorbonne and a Ph.D in philosophy from the University of Nanterre, Paris, France. Her recent publications include Emmanuel Levinas: A Philosophy of Exile (Bloomsbury, October 2012), and Biblical Portraits of Exile (Routledge, June 2016).

YouTube class lecture (May 13, 2o22)

A Eucharistic Pedagogy: Gospel Parables and Teachings in Simone Weil’s “On the Right Use of School Studies”

Christy Lang Hearlson read

This article examines biblical allusions in Simone Weil’s “On the Right Use of School Studies,” in which she argues that study can train our attention to God and neighbor. Focusing on Weil’s use of Jesus’ teachings that mention bread, meals, and table service, this article reveals an underlying theme of Eucharist (communion) in Weil’s essay on studying. Together with Weil’s comment that school studies are “like a sacrament,” this analysis suggests that Weil offers a “eucharistic pedagogy” shaped by her mystical theology of Eucharist, a theology itself shaped by George Herbert’s English-language poem “Love.” Throughout, the article compares Weil’s original French with its English translation, noting where the translation obscures her use of the Bible or her theology, and it also examines the Greek biblical text, since Weil read the New Testament in its Greek original. The article concludes with a critique of Weil’s educational vision, which relies on a dyadic vision of the eucharist, and suggests that a communal vision of the eucharist can support a social vision of education.

Horizons, vol. 49, no. 1 (May 30, 2022)

Christy Lang Hearlson is a professor in the Theology and Religious Studies department at Villanova University.