Simone Weil and affliction

By Christopher Wink | Feb 9, 2007 | Existentialism

The life of French philosophical writer and activist Simone Weil made a noticeable impact in many spheres of intellectual thought despite her politically-orientated, voluntary starvation little more than three decades after her birth. Despite her attachment to 20th century philosophy, perhaps her most powerful mark is her use of the idea of affliction.

As Weil (1909-1943) wrote, very few souls are able to attain affliction, which she described as broad suffering as a means to unite with God, yet it is through it that we can come closer to our Creator. One avenue for approaching her use of affliction is to view it as a theodicy.

Since the Greek term’s German beginning in the early eighteenth century, theodicy, which is an attempt to rectify the existence of evil with the idea of a benevolent God, has been a popular theme for thinkers of every breed. From German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) to French Protestant theologian John Calvin (1509-1564) and his eponymous movement of accepting all acts as part of God’s just plan, legends of intellectual thought have wrestled with this spiritual paradox, rectifying a benevolent Creator and a painful existence.

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