Albert Camus called the philosopher Simone Weil “the only great spirit of our times.” T.S. Eliot said she was the greatest saint of the 20th century. Charles de Gaulle said she was insane. But who is she and what is the Simone Weil philosophy?
Despite dying at the age of 34, Simone Weil lived a life that rivalled any philosopher. And it was the authentic life of a philosopher following her inner compass. She did not fall in with the intellectual milieu of her time by becoming a public intellectual (which was far from a matter of intelligence — she finished 1st in her class for philosophy at France’s elite university the École Normale Supérieure beating out Simone de Beauvoir in second place).
She was born into a Jewish family and raised agnostic and yet found herself drawn towards religion; she fought in the Spanish Civil War and worked in factories for a year to understand the working class.
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