Discussions of Simone Weil

By Rush Rhees
Edited by D. Z. Phillips
Assisted by Mario von der Ruhr

Subjects: Theology
Series: SUNY series, Simone Weil Studies
Paperback : 9780791444283, 212 pages, February 2000
Hardcover : 9780791444276, 212 pages, January 2000

Table of contents

Editor's Preface

Part One
Social Philosophy

Chapter One
Method and Liberty

Chapter Two
"The Organization of Society"

Chapter Three
Liberty and Understanding

Chapter Four
The Need for Roots

Part Two
Science and Necessity

Chapter Five
The World and Necessity

Chapter Six
Thought, Necessity, and Contemplation

Chapter Seven
Science and Obedience

Chapter Eight
Science or Religious Meditation?

Part Three
Reflections on Ethics and Religion

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten
Friendship and Purity of Soul

Chapter Eleven
The Temporal and the Eternal

Chapter Twelve
Grace and the Beauty of the World

Chapter Thirteen
Evil, Death, and Suffering

Chapter Fourteen
Notes on the Old and New Testaments

Simone Weil
Biographical and Bibliographical Sketch

Simone Weil


A distinguished discussion of Weil's views on social philosophy, science, ethics, and religion.


The work of Simone Weil has not garnered the attention it deserves in the Anglo-American tradition. In this book, Rhees, the noted thinker trained by Wittgenstein, provides the most sustained critique to date of Weil's views on science and religion. In this decidedly Wittgensteinian spin on the philosophy of religion, Rhees' observations on the major themes in Weil's work—social philosophy, science, ethics, and religion—are presented. The book shows how Rhees wrestled with difficulties he found in the work of Weil, someone he held in the highest regard.

Rush Rhees (1905-1989) taught at the University of Wales, Swansea, for twenty-six years and became Honorary Professor after his retirement. He is the author of Without Answers; Discussions of Wittgenstein; On Religion and Philosophy; Wittgenstein and the Possibility of Discourse; and Moral Questions. D. Z. Phillips is Rush Rhees Research Professor at the University of Wales, Swansea, and Danforth Professor of the Philosophy of Religion at Claremont Graduate University, California. Mario von der Ruhr is Lecturer in Philosophy at the University of Wales, Swansea.


"…Rhees's book is a 'gold mine' in Weil studies." — The Journal of Religion

"In the field of Weil studies this book is a 'gold mine.'" — Richard H. Bell, author of Simone Weil: The Way of Justice as Compassion

"Weil was a highly original thinker and Discussions of Simone Weil helps bring out that originality. Rhees also makes a contribution to the philosophy of religion, for here we get to see how a genuine Wittgensteinian approach might work in tackling religious questions." — Eric O. Springsted, coauthor of Spirit, Nature, and Community: Issues in the Thought of Simone Weil