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Simone Weil: Suffering, Attention and Compassionate Thought

Jesson, Stuart (2014) Simone Weil: Suffering, Attention and Compassionate Thought. Studies in Christian Ethics, 27 (2). pp. 185-201.

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Abstract

This article explores Simone Weil’s account of the relationship between human suffering and intellectual life, with reference to the issues raised by the allegation that as an enterprise theodicy evinces a failure to ‘take suffering seriously’. The article shows how Weil’s understanding of the relationship between suffering and attention gives a clear and powerful account of the way that compassion – which involves an uncompromising acceptance of suffering - can be discerned in patterns of thought. Nevertheless, it is less clear in her work how these convictions might serve as a guide for theological statements. Weil’s understanding of the Christian conception of life is centred on the experience of finding God present in and through suffering, and this leaves her with the problem of how to reconcile her commitment not to ‘sweeten what is bitter’ with consolations or compensations with her intuition that the truth of creaturely existence is made available through suffering. Through an analysis of the inner contours of this conflict, it is argued that Weil’s central problem is of how to articulate spiritual reality in such a way as to encourage undivided attention, which is the only ground for

Item Type: Article
Status: Published
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/0953946813514011
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
School/Department: School of Humanities, Religion & Philosophy
URI: http://ray.yorksj.ac.uk/id/eprint/1602

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