Quotes by Simone Weil

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Simone Weil (February 3, 1909August 24, 1943) was a French philosopher and mystic.

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Learn to reject friendship, or rather the dream of friendship. To want friendship is a great fault. Friendship ought to be a gratuitous joy, like the joys afforded by art, or life (like aesthetic joys). I must refuse it in order to be worthy to receive it

Attachment is the great fabricator of illusions; reality can be attained only by someone who is detached.
Mathematics alone make us feel the limits of our intelligence. For we can always suppose in the case of an experiment that it is inexplicable because we don't happen to have all the data. In mathematics we have all the data and yet we don't understand. We always come back to the contemplation of our human wretchedness. What force is in relation to our will, the impenetrable opacity of mathematics is in relation to our intelligence.
There is no detachment where there is no pain. And there is no pain endured without hatred or lying unless detachment is present too.
A hurtful act is the transference to others of the degradation which we bear in ourselves.
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.
Evil being the root of mystery, pain is the root of knowledge.
Imagination and fiction make up more than three quarters of our life.
It is only the impossible that is possible for God. He has given over the possible to the mechanics of matter and the autonomy of his creatures.
For when two beings who are not friends are near each other there is no meeting, and when friends are far apart there is no separation.
When science, art, literature, and philosophy are simply the manifestation of personality they are on a level where glorious and dazzling achievements are possible, which can make a man's name live for thousands of years. But above this level, far above,
To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.
I can, therefore I am.
If we are suffering illness, poverty, or misfortune, we think we shall be satisfied on the day it ceases. But there too, we know it is false; so soon as one has got used to not suffering one wants something else.
In the Church, considered as a social organism, the mysteries inevitably degenerate into beliefs.
Beauty always promises, but never gives anything.
A self-respecting nation is ready for anything, including war, except for a renunciation of its option to make war.
When a man's life is destroyed or damaged by some wound or privation of soul or body, which is due to other men's actions or negligence, it is not only his sensibility that suffers but also his aspiration toward the good. Therefore there has been sacrilege towards that which is sacred in him.
Those who are unhappy have no need for anything in this world but people capable of giving them their attention.
In this world, only those people who have fallen to the lowest degree of humiliation, far below beggary, who are not just without any social consideration but are regarded by all as being deprived of that foremost human dignity, reason itself -- only those people, in fact, are capable of telling the truth. All the others lie.
Every perfect life is a parable invented by God.
Nothing is less instructive than a machine.
To set up as a standard of public morality a notion which can neither be defined nor conceived is to open the door to every kind of tyranny.
When once a certain class of people has been placed by the temporal and spiritual authorities outside the ranks of those whose life has value, then nothing comes more naturally to men than murder.
I suffer more from the humiliations inflicted by my country than from those inflicted on her.
There can be a true grandeur in any degree of submissiveness, because it springs from loyalty to the laws and to an oath, and not from baseness of soul.
Oppression that is clearly inexorable and invincible does not give rise to revolt but to submission.
We must prefer real hell to an imaginary paradise.
The destruction of the past is perhaps the greatest of all crimes.
The proper method of philosophy consists in clearly conceiving the insoluble problems in all their insolubility and then in simply contemplating them, fixedly and tirelessly, year after year, without any hope, patiently waiting.
The appetite for power, even for universal power, is only insane when there is no possibility of indulging it; a man who sees the possibility opening before him and does not try to grasp it, even at the risk of destroying himself and his country, is either
To get power over is to defile. To possess is to defile.
When a contradiction is impossible to resolve except by a lie, then we know that it is really a door.
Whenever a human being, through the commission of a crime, has become exiled from good, he needs to be reintegrated with it through suffering. The suffering should be inflicted with the aim of bringing the soul to recognize freely some day that its infliction was just.
Purity is the power to contemplate defilement.
Life does not need to mutilate itself in order to be pure.
A test of what is real is that it is hard and rough. Joys are found in it, not pleasure. What is pleasant belongs to dreams.
Why is it that reality, when set down untransposed in a book, sounds false?
One cannot imagine St. Francis of Assisi talking about rights.
To us, men of the West, a very strange thing happened at the turn of the century; without noticing it, we lost science, or at least the thing that had been called by that name for the last four centuries. What we now have in place of it is something different, radically different, and we don't know what it is. Nobody knows what it is.
The poison of skepticism becomes, like alcoholism, tuberculosis, and some other diseases, much more virulent in a hitherto virgin soil.
The only hope of socialism resides in those who have already brought about in themselves, as far as is possible in the society of today, that union between manual and intellectual labor which characterizes the society we are aiming at.
In solitude we are in the presence of mere matter (even the sky, the stars, the moon, trees in blossom), things of less value (perhaps) than a human spirit. Its value lies in the greater possibility of attention.
With no matter what human being, taken individually, I always find reasons for concluding that sorrow and misfortune do not suit him; either because he seems too mediocre for anything so great, or, on the contrary, too precious to be destroyed.
Every new development for the last three centuries has brought men closer to a state of affairs in which absolutely nothing would be recognized in the whole world as possessing a claim to obedience except the authority of the State. The majority of people in Europe obey nothing else.
We are like horses who hurt themselves as soon as they pull on their bits -- and we bow our heads. We even lose consciousness of the situation, we just submit. Any re-awakening of thought is then painful.
The afflicted are not listened to. They are like someone whose tongue has been cut out and who occasionally forgets the fact. When they move their lips no ear perceives any sound. And they themselves soon sink into impotence in the use of language, because of the certainty of not being heard.
The capacity to give one's attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle. Nearly all those who think they have this capacity do not possess it. Warmth of heart, impulsiveness, pity are not enough.
It would seem that man was born a slave, and that slavery is his natural condition. At the same time nothing on earth can stop man from feeling himself born for liberty. Never, whatever may happen, can he accept servitude; for he is a thinking creature.
A mind enclosed in language is in prison.
Every time that I think of the crucifixion of Christ, I commit the sin of envy.
The role of the intelligence --that part of us which affirms and denies and formulates opinions is merely to submit.
Whatever debases the intelligence degrades the entire human being.
Imagination is always the fabric of social life and the dynamic of history. The influence of real needs and compulsions, of real interests and materials, is indirect because the crowd is never conscious of it.
I would suggest that barbarism be considered as a permanent and universal human characteristic which becomes more or less pronounced according to the play of circumstances.
Humanism was not wrong in thinking that truth, beauty, liberty, and equality are of infinite value, but in thinking that man can get them for himself without grace.
In struggling against anguish one never produces serenity; the struggle against anguish only produces new forms of anguish.
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
In relation to God, we are like a thief who has burgled the house of a kindly householder and been allowed to keep some of the gold. From the point of view of the lawful owner this gold is a gift; Form the point of view of the burglar it is a theft. He must go and give it back. It is the same with our existence. We have stolen a little of God's being to make it ours. God has made us a gift of it. But we have stolen it. We must return it.
We can only know one thing about God -- that he is what we are not. Our wretchedness alone is an image of this. The more we contemplate it, the more we contemplate him.