Simone Weil (1909–1943) French philosopher, Christian mystic and political activist of Jewish origin, Photographer unknown.

Simone Weil (1909–1943) French philosopher, Christian mystic and political activist of Jewish origin, Photographer unknown.

OUR director, Simon Barrow, will be chairing an online forum looking at the spiritual vision of the compelling early twentieth century French philosopher, mystic and political activist Simone Weil. This will take place from 19:00 to 21:00 (UK time) on Wednesday 27th September. Details about joining this seminar are provided below.

Simon writes: “Simone Weil was involved in teaching, revolutionary politics, trade unionism, and philosophical exploration throughout her tragically short life. She struggled persistently against oppression and fascism, and joined the French general strike in 1933. Coming from a Jewish background, she increasingly moved towards a mystical and dissenting version of Catholic Christianity informed by her own deep immersion in classical and Eastern traditions. After a lifetime of illness and frailty, Weil died in August 1943 from cardiac failure at the age of just 34. She had limited her food intake to what she believed residents of German-occupied France ate, most likely even less, as she refused food on most occasions. The coroner’s report said that “the deceased did kill and slay herself by refusing to eat whilst the balance of her mind was disturbed.”.

“That combination of intensity, brilliance, passionate commitment, brokenness and disturbance marks much of her work, which includes such books (some assembled posthumously) as The Iliad, or The Poem of Force, The Need for Roots, Gravity and Grace, and Waiting on God. Her thought embraced themes of absence, affliction, kenosis (self emptying), mexaxu (that which both separates and connects), beauty, solidarity, and much more.”

Speakers at the online forum are Dr Elizabeth Drummond Young (teaching fellow in philosophy at the University of Edinburgh), Dr Philip Wilson (associate professor of Philosophy and Translation at the University of East Anglia), Dr Christopher Thomas (senior lecturer in Philosophy at Manchester Metropolitan University) and Dr David Levy (lecturer in philosophy at the University of Edinburgh). All have made significant contributions to Simone Weil studies, and to publishing both her work and critical reflections on it. Since 1995, some 3,000 scholarly works have been published about her, including close analyses and readings of her output.

This seminar has been organised by our friends at the Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace, with whom we have been pleased to cooperate over a number of years.

Further details and how to register can be found at the foot of this page