Oppression and Liberty
The remarkable French thinker Simone Weil is one of the leading intellectual and spiritual figures of the twentieth century. A legendary essayist, political philosopher and member of the French resistance, her literary output belied her tragically short life. Most of...
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The remarkable French thinker Simone Weil is one of the leading intellectual and spiritual figures of the twentieth century. A legendary essayist, political philosopher and member of the French resistance, her literary output belied her tragically short life. Most of her work was published posthumously, to widespread acclaim. Always concerned with the nature of individual freedom, Weil explores in"Oppression and Liberty its political and social implications. Analysing the causes of oppression, its mechanisms and forms, she questions revolutionary responsesand presents a prophetic view of a way forward. If, as she noted elsewhere, 'the future is made of the same stuff as the present', then there will always be a need to continue to listen to Simone Weil. to listen to Simone Weil.
Born in Paris, Weil came from a highly intellectual family. After a brilliant academic career at school and university, she taught philosophy interspersed with periods of hard manual labor on farms and in factories. Throughout her life she combined sophisticated and scholarly interests with an extreme moral intensity and identification with the poor and oppressed. A twentieth-century Pascal (see Vol. 4), this ardently spiritual woman was a social thinker, sensitive to the crises of modern humanity. Jewish by birth, Christian by vocation, and Greek by aesthetic choice, Weil has influenced religious thinking profoundly in the years since her death. "Humility is the root of love," she said as she questioned traditional theologians and held that the apostles had badly interpreted Christ's teaching. Christianity was, she thought, to blame for the heresy of progress. During World War II, Weil starved herself to death, refusing to eat while victims of the war still suffered.