The Need for Roots

Simone Weil’s Radical Ontology of Rootedness: Natural and Supernatural Justices

Alexandre Andrade Martins read

This paper argues that Simone Weil developed an anthropology of the human condition that is a radical ontology of the human spirit rooted in reality. Weil begins her account from the real, but this real is not only the historical or social reality. It is also what is true about the human person as a created being in connection with the transcendent reality. She believes that affliction reveals the human condition and provides an openness to transcendence in which the individual finds the meaning of the human operation of the spirit. Therefore, Weil’s radical ontology is based on a philosophy of the human being as an agent rooted in the world. In order to be rooted, a human being needs decreation (the creation of a new human) and incarnation (cross and love in the world). In her radical ontology derived from attention to the real, Weil argues for an active incarnation in social reality that recognizes others, especially the unfortunates, for the purpose of empowering them and promoting their dignity. Her radical ontology incarnates the human in the world between necessity and good, that is, between the natural and the supernatural.

Considering Emmanuel Gabellieri’s characterization of Simone Weil’s anthropological philosophy as a radical ontology, I examine Weil’s account on natural and supernatural justices. According to Gabellieri, Weil’s ontology is radical because it is “a metaphysics of the human spirit oriented towards a full contact with reality.” Full contact with the reality of the world is the starting point of Simone Weil’s philosophy. This contact is radical because the supernatural is present in reality, and a deep experience of reality opens the individual for the illumination of the supernatural, an experience of grace that reveals the truth of human existence and condition in the world. Therefore, Simone Weil develops an anthropology of the human condition that is a “radical ontology” of the human spirit rooted in the reality of the world. The experience of rootedness occurs in reality, but it is the supernatural that roots the human being.

Weil suggests an anthropology of radical ontology following the Platonic tradition of a transcendental spirit that contemplates the nous. This generates a noetic knowledge that impacts reality. It is in this mediation between reality and the supernatural that the need for justice occurs, as a natural reality illuminated and guided by supernatural justice. In this account, she is also inside the Christian mystic tradition, in which the experience of grace impacts the ethical life leading to seek for justice. To understand Weil’s radical ontology, this paper will discuss three points of her account: her starting point from the real, the movement of decreation and openness of the working of grace, and the supernatural justice that illuminates the natural justice in a rooted people.  {full text in “Read” link above}

Theology Faculty Research and Publications, Marquette University (Spring, 2019)

Simone Weil, a politics of the good for our age

(Conference) watch

Simone Weil (1909-1943) – philosopher, teacher in high schools and for factory workers, social activist, anarchistic-ranks soldier in Spain, manual worker in factories and farms, Résistence member, mystic – never wrote academic articles: the 16 volumes of her writings are an intellectual but personal expression of her social, political and spiritual deliberations and engagement, constituting a corpus of original, sober and subversive thought. Her influence is intensifying along the years, from Albert Camus who first published her posthumously and described her as “the only great spirit of our time”, up to her increasing presence in the words of contemporary politicians. A first Hebrew translation of a collection from her social and political writings is forthcoming in 2018, and in 30-31.10.2018 an international conference will be held at the Open University of Israel campus in Raanana on her thought and its relevance for the society and politics of our age from theoretical, comparative and historical perspectives. The conference will be tri-lingual, in Hebrew, French and English, with simultaneous translation between Hebrew and French.

Participants: Barbara Wolfer, Aviad Heifetz, Frederic Worms, Alexandra Feret, Jean Davienne, E. Jane Doering, Daniel Rosenberg, Pascal David, Denis Charbit, Robert Chenavier, Rita Fulco, and Christine Evans

Open University of Israel campus (Raanana) (2018)