Friday, February 03, 2017

Simone Weil: "The Needs of a Human Being are Sacred. Their Satisfaction Cannot be Subordinated Either to Reasons of State, or to Any Consideration of Money ..."

Simone Weil in 1921.

Notebooks of Simone Weil. Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1956
Simone Weil (February 3,1909 - August 24,1943). French philosopher, anarchist, feminist, christian mystic. When the Spanish Civil War broke out, Weil joined a French-speaking unit of an anarchist militia and fought the fascists. In 1942, she helped her family to safety in the U.S.A, and then returned to Europe and joined the French Resistance to fight against the Nazis. Physically frail and otherworldly, Weil contracted tuberculosis and tragically died at the age of thirty-four. Albert Camus called her "the only great spirit of our time." Writing in the New York Review of Books (February 1,1963), the brilliant Susan Sontag rightfully placed Weil in the company of Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, Dostoyevsky, Kafka, Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Genet; "their unhealthiness," she sagely observed, "is their soundness." Sontag cited "the originality of her psychological insight, the passion and subtlety of her theological imagination, the fecundity of her exegetical talents ...", and referred to her as a "person who is rightly regarded as one of the most uncompromising and troubling witnesses to the modern travail of the spirit."

Here are some of Simone Weil's haunting insights:

Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.
-- Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace (1948)

The needs of a human being are sacred. Their satisfaction cannot be subordinated either to reasons of state, or to any consideration of money, nationality, race, or colour, or to the moral or other value attributed to the human being in question, or to any consideration whatsoever.
-- Simone Weil, Statement of Human Obligations (1943)

Force is as pitiless to the man who possesses it, or thinks he does, as it is to its victims; the second it crushes, the first it intoxicates. The truth is, nobody really possesses it. -- Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace (1948)

In order to be exercised, the intelligence requires to be free to express itself without control by any authority. There must therefore be a domain of pure intellectual research, separate but accessible to all, where no authority intervenes. -- Simone Weil, Statement Of Obligations (1943)

Human beings are so made that the ones who do the crushing feel nothing; it is the person crushed who feels what is happening. Unless one has placed oneself on the side of the oppressed, to feel with them, one cannot understand.
-- Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace.

At the bottom of the heart of every human being, from earliest infancy until the tomb, there is something that goes on indomitably expecting, in the teeth of all experience of crimes committed, suffered, and witnessed, that good and not evil will be done to him. It is this above all that is sacred in every human being. The good is the only source of the sacred. There is nothing sacred except the good and what pertains to it.
-- Simone Weil, Human Personality (1943)

When a contradiction is impossible to resolve except by a lie, then we know that it is really a door.
-- Simone Weil, Gravity and Grace (1948)'

Related Words of Power Herstory Posts:
Simone de Beauvoir: "... And Truth Rewarded Me."
Ursula Le Guin: "To Light A Candle is to Cast A Shadow.
Susan Sontag: "In Place of A Hermeneutics, We Need An Erotics of Art."
Doris Lessing: "It is the Storyteller, the Dream-Maker, the Myth-Maker, that is our Phoenix ..."
Joan Didion: “I Know What 'Nothing' Means, and Keep On Playing.

Simone Weil
Richard Power is the author of eleven books, including most recently, "Cauldron Yoga, Gaian Poetics and the Way of the Ancient Future," along with the other four volumes of his "Primal Reality" series, all of which are available in both softcover and Kindle versions via

For information, visit his Amazon author's page.