"Roots, Reality and Religion: Simone Weil's Re-visioning of the World"

Dr. Anna J. Brown
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A world engulfed in alienation, hostility, and violence creates a landscape that is littered by corpses. And as these corpses pile up -- as they do these days in rapidly increasing numbers -- those among the living are thrown back among themselves: How has it come to this? And what can be done about it? Simone Weil, the twentieth century French-Jewish philosopher, political activist and religious thinker claims, in her final piece of written work, "the need to be rooted was perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul."

Human beings are uprooted primarily by means of military conquest and economic domination. And, as we see in the North American led military conquest of Iraq, uprootedness has created rivers of blood in a land that was once better known as "Mesopotamia," for its two great rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates.The perpetuation of uprootedness in Iraq also takes place by economic design, e.g., by the self-interested manipulations of the North American based corporation Halliburton. That this course of action is championed would not be surprising to Weil, for it is a form of domination that is so simplistic because it is so mindless: "Nothing is so clear and simple as a row of figures." Her remedy to our contemporary malady of uprootedness is primarily two-fold and consists in our ability to root ourselves in reality and religion.

Weil's re-visioning of the world suggests that we might both be at home and flourish within the world. As such, however, hers is a cry in the wilderness. With her emphasis upon "the real," she rebukes the current post-modern claim of "no such thing as the real." And with her emphasis upon religion, she presents a weighty challenge to those who can't see a third way between the Scylla of relativism and the Charybdis of fundamentalism. Weil's genius was to put forth physical labor as the "spiritual core of a well-ordered social life." What this paper contemplates, accordingly, are the ways in which physical labor both roots us firmly within the ground of our daily lives and encourages us to reach toward the realm of the spiritual. When we are both rooted and reaching, it is then that we may be radiant with the fullness of life.

Keywords: Roots, Religion and Reality, Physical Labor as Spiritual Core of a well-ordered Social Life
Stream: Political Science, Politics, Religion, Spirituality
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: "Roots, Reality and Religion: Simone Weil's Re-visioning of the World"

Dr. Anna J. Brown

Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, Saint Peter's College
Jersey City, New Jersey, USA

My area of specialization is political philosophy and political theory, with a concentration in contermporary political theory, critical theory, peace studies and feminism. Currently I am co-editing a book, "Radical Love: The Contributions of Daniel Berrigan, S.J. to Christian Social Thought." In addition, I have participated in over 60 acts of nonviolent resistance to war. In December of 2005, I walked 70 miles, within a community of 25, from Santiago de Cuba to Guantanamo to witness against the US military's use of torture and the sanctionning of torture by the US government. My acts of nonviolent resistance are grounded both in political analysis and spiritual insight, with the latter enriched by seven years of training in Zen Buddhism.

Ref: H06P0473