In 'The Need for Roots', Simone Weil points out the absurdity of the 18th century divide of an amoral world and moral society, rooted in Descartes' cleavage of mind and body. Weil reminds us that humans are as much a part of the universe as everything else, and therefore subject to the same rule of amoral force.
For the past two or three centuries there is a belief that force is the sole master of all natural phenomena, and, at the same time, that men can and should establish their mutual relationships on justice, as determined by reason. This is a patent absurdity.
It is not conceivable that everything in the universe be absolutely subject to the empire of force but that man can avoid it, while he is made of flesh and blood, and his thought drifts along with perceptual impressions.
There is only one choice to make. Either one must perceive another principle besides force at work in the universe, or one must acknowledge that force is also the sole master of human relations.
Force is not a machine to create justice automatically. It is a blind mechanism from which just and unjust effects come out by chance, indifferently. The passage of time does nothing; it does not augment the tiny proportion of just effects by chance from this mechanism's function.
If force reigns absolutely, justice is absolutely unreal. But it is not. We know this by experience. Justice is real at the bottom of men's hearts.
The structure of a human heart is a reality among realities of this universe, as real as the trajectory of a planet.
As long as man tolerates having his soul full of his own thoughts, of his personal thoughts, he is entirely subject, including his most intimate thoughts, to the mechanical play of force. If he thinks it otherwise, he is in error.
But everything changes when, by virtue of true attention, he empties his soul in order to let the thoughts of eternal wisdom penetrate him. He then carries within him the very thoughts that force is subject to.
The operation of intelligence in scientific study makes necessity's sovereignty over matter appear to thought as a network of relationships that is immaterial and without force. Necessity is only perfectly conceived when the relationships appear as completely immaterial. They are then present to thought only by the effect of an elevated and pure attention, which stems from a point in the soul that is not subject to force.
The true definition of science is that it is the study of the beauty of the world. As soon as one thinks of it, this is obvious. Matter, blind force are not the object of science. Thought cannot attain them; they flee before it. The thought of a scientist never attains anything but the relationships that seize matter and force in an invisible, impalpable and inalterable netword of order and harmony. "The net of the sky is vast, says Lao-Tsu; its netting is large; however nothing passes through it."
How could human thought have any other object than thought? There is here a difficulty so well known in the theory of knowledge that one renounces to consider it, one puts it aside like a platitude. The object of human thought is, itself, thought. The scientist has for a goal the union of his own spirit with the mysterious wisdom eternally inscribed in the universe. How could there then be opposition or even separation between the spirit of science and that of religion? Scientific investigation is but a form of religious contemplation.
The forces down here are determined by sovereign necessity: necessity is constituted of relationships which are thoughts; therefore force which is sovereign down here is sovereignly dominated by thought. Man is a thinking creature; he is on the side of that which commands force.
-Simone Weil, The Need for Roots
Let's discuss freely in light of this passage. No background reading is expected.
OPTIONAL: Weil, on The Iliad and Force. http://people.virginia.edu/~jdk3t/WeilTheIliad.pdf