Why Am I Being Hurt?

Agnes Callard at The Point:

Weil’s essential contribution to the theory of complaint comes by way of her distinction between ordinary suffering and something she calls “affliction.” Suffering is pain one can bear, pain that does not imprint itself on the soul. Sometimes, we even choose suffering, as in strenuous exercise, unmedicated childbirth or getting one’s ears pierced. Getting beat up in an alleyway by strangers is not like any of those forms of suffering. A violent attack, even one that does minimum physical damage, hurts in a distinctive way—in a way that, as Weil would put it, raises a question.

“The same event may plunge one human being into affliction and not another,” writes Weil. Her view is that the kind of suffering that makes a mark on the soul is incomprehensible suffering. Even as great an evil as religious persecution doesn’t necessarily entail affliction; Weil says that the persecuted “only fall into a state of affliction if suffering or fear fills the soul to the point of making it forget the cause of the persecution.”

more here.