Humility is the natural result of astonishment
Simone Weil and the phenomenon of attention
Welcome! This post is free. If you are a free subscriber, consider an upgrade to view all posts in this series in their entirety. Thank you for being here!
Simone Weil is enigmatic. I am interested to see if in her other writings, she has a system. In Gravity and Grace, she does not, but that might be because others compiled her notes posthumously. She is very much a mystic and philosopher. She pulls ideas from the "no-thing" of Heidegger's gleaming clearing. She is thrown and appropriated by the no-thing. In Gravity and Grace, the result is that we know not where her consciousness is traipsing.
What she says comes from somewhere the rest of us do not access, an area of the forest we have not been. I don't think it's that we cannot access her path, only that we do not pay attention long enough to do it. This was Heidegger's painful loneliness, in my view. I wonder if Simone was lonely in the same way.
“Loneliness is bound up with the relation of man and God. . . . Yes, that’s the problem. . . . I am lonely. Just how lonely you will never know.”
~ Sheehan, Thomas. Making Sense of Heidegger: A Paradigm Shift (New Heidegger Research) (p. 275). Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Kindle Edition.
But to my current point, I have established that humility is a natural result of astonishment. The more astonished we are, the more speechless we become. To be free of ideology and its prideful presumptions, we must be open to astonishment, to the unknown that is more real than the known. Ideologies bind us. We are guilty of reductionism, whereby we perceive everything through the lens of ideology, which extinguishes astonishment like a flame with no oxygen. We believe our ideologies can answer every question. Every answer is in our box. We have no need for astonishment, as we already have the answer to everything. Ideological reductionism over and above revelatory discovery destroys astonishment. Therefore, it destroys humility.
Weil refers to this using a different, but complimentary term - attention.
"We know by means of our intelligence that what the intelligence does not comprehend is more real than what it does comprehend.
In the intellectual order, the virtue of humility is nothing more nor less than the power of attention."
~ Weil, Simone. Gravity And Grace (p. 130). Kindle Edition.