Simone Weil’s Philosophy of History

Abstract The philosophical and religious ideas of Simone Weil bear on theory of history and historiography in ways not previously explored. They amount to a view of history as a consequence of the original creation, but they also generally exclude theodicy. By examining these ideas we see some of the ways in which to develop a theory of history centered on a conception of moral understanding that is impartialist and universal. For Weil such understanding is both inside of and outside of history. This leads to an approach to human history that centers on the moral dilemmas and choices of historical actors and that matches the force of compassion with that of power. Under an approach inspired by Weil’s ideas, the historian’s work of understanding can be an experience of moral growth.