Simone Weil’s Love of Neighbor

Simone Weil’s “Waiting for God” have discussed the implied love of God through the reiteration of love and compassion as an answer or remedy for affliction and as a step in able to restore justice. Simone Weil was a wealthy French political activist and philosopher who have strived to argue about the “universal goodness of men”.

She maintains that the world in which we lived in is generally composed of inequalities. In such case, there are some people who catch our attention while there are those “others” who are often regarded as the collective unknown. Since there was a lack of attention, otherwise of circumstance and/or affinity, these people remained to be unidentified.

She further argues that those people who are with power acts in “mechanical ways”. This is because they are blindly under the assumption or thinking that they are obligated to enact their power over others in able to defend or protect themselves. They believe that if they do not act in such a way as imposing their power over other people, they might end up being slaves or being objects themselves.

Those who do not have power are reduced to “mere items or objects” who functions as property and quantities obviously does so because they do not have the capability to command other people and they are viewed by those who are in power as means to their ends. This was largely reflected on wars, as soldiers are deployed in  combat areas, those who held government power are deciding which troop would be sent first or which troop would be in this or that position.

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To further understand her point, she tries to demonstrate the mechanical aspect of power through the ideas of affliction and slavery.  She renders that affliction is a mark of slavery; it is when the soul becomes blind and numb through the mechanical violence perpetuated by power that they exist only as things. Human’s primary task is to give attention to those who are afflicted or to those people who were possessed by power.  Since other afflicted person’s are hardened by the feelings and experiences that they posses, it is then the human being’s task to love our neighbor’s as much as we love ourselves.

According to Weil, most people do not understand what the pain that the afflicted persons are feeling. It is quite impossible for unequal things to feel equal or the same, in such, people who are unequal cannot feel the same feeling, cannot understand the same thing that other people is experiencing. She argues that what connects everything is a link with what she renders as an “outside reality”.

She clarifies that this “link” can be manifested through the presence of “injustice” which is the damage caused in the private sphere of an individual. Weil’s conception of Justice is base on a religious aspect of a universal obligation to “remedy the damages done in any body or soul”.  According to Weil, the universality of this obligation is in such form that disposing it would make one a “criminal”.

Justice for Weil is reflective of compassion with the acknowledgement that there must be no harm done to other people most specifically to our neighbors. It is through justice that those who are in power would be compassionate to those who does not posses power for they would not treat those other people merely as objects or as indifferent persons but as reflections and extensions of themselves. They would then remove the mechanical ways that follows from their possession of power for this ways would not be recognize or at least utilize.

In my opinion, Weil’s ideas are too idealistic, for although people may indeed love their neighbors as much as they love themselves, nonetheless, this could only happen if all would indeed subscribe to this kind of philosophical thinking. It is quite inevitable for people to dominate other things, and this is something that Weil herself recognizes, as she states that indeed inequality is something that we cannot demise. Yet she proceed on implying that humans can in some way become compassionate to other people or feel and share the pain of other people.

This is simply implausible even if she argued that there is a universal link that determines compassion as an obligation to other people, still it is deeply imbedded in human being’s nature and personhood that he/she must strive for him/herself with or without the regard for other people. Her ideal morality and universal justice cannot be attained in our society and is only possible in a hypothetical realm where people may indeed recognize his/her obligation to other people.

It might also work well in particular instances upon a serious contemplation and dedication to religion or to a morality that corresponds to the same ideals. For example, in instances like those done by Christ, helping other people without the regard of what will happen to yourself, is something that can indeed be treated to be an instance in support of Weil’s claims. However, one must not forget to take into account the fact that somehow there can be personal interest involved or such and such actions are only plausible in certain circumstances and not in others. Thus, my assessment of Weil’s philosophy is implausible and too idealistic.

Works Cited:

Weil, Simone. Waiting for God. New York: First Perennial Classics. 2001.



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