Love's justice: The political thought of Simone Weil

Anna Jean Brown, Fordham University


This dissertation examines multiple aspects of Simone Weil's political thought. Its specific aim is to render an account of political thought and life that incorporates Weil's criteria of justice and love. For Weil, any account of justice, traditionally held, at least in ancient political thought, as the cardinal political virtue, must recognize two things: human misery and love. Without adequate recognition of these two things, justice falls short of being true, which, according to Weil, is nothing other than a "radiant manifestation of reality" (NR 253). Paradigmatic within Weil's thought and work, is the sense that "human life is a composition on many planes" (NB, vol. 1, 28). This dissertation remains faithful to her dictum by examining the multiple aspects and planes factored into her more explicitly political thought. Further, what becomes foundational in every chapter are the very criteria she sets for the realization of justice. Accordingly, the dissertation begins with a discussion of Weil's thought on the question of human labor and moves to an account of her reading of suffering and affliction. What follows the account of suffering and affliction is an analysis of her theory of justice. After examining her theory of justice, I give a more in-depth reading of her explicitly political thought. The dissertation's final chapter juxtaposes Weil's political thought and postmodern political thought. Finally, the dissertation concludes with some criticism of certain aspects of Weil's political thought. Though I suggest certain criticisms of her work in the conclusion of this dissertation, what I also suggest is that much within her political thought must be retained. Among that which should be retained is her dialectical reading of the political and the supernatural, her account of affliction, her insistence upon the connection between love and human misery in any formulation of justice, and the emphasis she places upon the incarnation of thought in the world.

Subject Area

Political science|Philosophy

Recommended Citation

Brown, Anna Jean, "Love's justice: The political thought of Simone Weil" (1998). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI9816353.