The Lesson | Simone Weil, 1909-43

Simone Weil (1909-1943) in her schoolgirl years


"Love is not consolation. It is light.”

“All sins are attempts to fill voids.”

"Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

"Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality 
can be obtained only by someone who is detached. ”

“Humility is attentive patience.”

“Two forces rule the universe: light and gravity.”

“The destruction of the past is perhaps the greatest of all crimes.”

“Evil when we are in its power is not felt as evil but as a necessity, or even a duty.”

“Purity is the ability to contemplate defilement.”

"I can, therefore I am.”


Simone Weil (1909-1943) among a group of students of the philosophy class, France.
Getty 


“True definition of science: the study of the beauty of the world.”

"If the algebra of physicists gives the impression of profundity it is 
because it is entirely flat; the third dimension of thought is missing."

“Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our real life.”

“Liberty is the power of choice within the latitude left between the direct 
constraint of natural forces and the authority accepted as legitimate.”

“When someone exposes himself as a slave in the market place, what wonder if he finds a master?”

 “Imaginary evil is romantic and varied; real evil is gloomy, monotonous, barren, 
boring. Imaginary good is boring; real good is always new, marvelous, intoxicating.”

“Never react to an evil in such a way as to augment it.”


Simone Weil with  André Weil, Henri Cartan, and Jean Delsarte, 1937


“There is nothing that comes closer to true humility than the intelligence. It is impossible 
to feel pride in one's intelligence at the moment when one really and truly exercises it.”

“A mind enclosed in language is in prison.”

"Two prisoners whose cells adjoin communicate with each other by knocking on the wall. The wall is 
the thing which separates them but it is also their means of communication... Every separation is a link.”

“Art is the symbol of the two noblest human efforts: to construct and to refrain from destruction.”

"The most important part of teaching is to teach what it is to know." 

"You live in a dream. You are waiting to begin to live…"

“If we go down into ourselves, we find that we possess exactly what we desire.”


Simone Weil's 1941 notebook                                                                                          Simone Weil after her return from the front, Barcelona, 1936 



“The contemporary form of true greatness lies in a civilization founded on the spirituality of work.”

“Creative attention means really giving our attention to what does not exist.”

“Cut away ruthlessly everything that is imaginary in your feelings.”

“To find extraordinary difficulty in doing an ordinary action is a favor which calls for gratitude.”

“There isn't a man on earth who doesn't at times pronounce an opinion 
on good and evil, even if it be only to find fault with somebody else.”

“Love consents to everything and commands only those who consent to it. Love is abdication. God is abdication.”

“We should seek neither to escape suffering nor to suffer less, but to remain untainted by suffering.”

“Affliction compels us to recognize as real what we do not think possible.”



Simone Weil / 1909-1943


Simone and André, Mayenne, 1915-16


At age ten Simone Weil's affluent parents found her a few blocks from their apartment at a labor union demonstration.

In 1915, when she was only six years old, she refused sugar in solidarity with the troops entrenched along the Western Front. 

In 1919, at 10 years of age, she declared herself a Bolshevik. In her late teens, she became involved in the workers' movement.


Simon and Andrew in Knokke-Zoute, Belgium, 1922


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