Weil on sensitivity and courage
January 1, 2014
Here is more Simone Weil, in a profound illustration of grace:
If I say to myself every morning: ‘I am courageous, I am not afraid’, I may become courageous but with a courage which conforms to what, in my present imperfection, I imagine under that name, and accordingly my courage will not go beyond this imperfection. It can only be a modification on the same plane, not a change of plane.
Contradiction is the criterion. We cannot by suggestion obtain things which are incompatible. Only grace can do that. A sensitive person who by suggestion becomes courageous hardens himself; often he may even, by a sort of savage pleasure, amputate his own sensitivity. Grace alone can give courage while leaving the sensitivity intact, or sensitivity while leaving the courage intact.
This is also a good example of Weil’s aphoristic style. She would write in her journals whenever an insight, an illumination of reality, came to her mind. Gravity and Grace is a collection of excerpts from her journals.