16
BLAISE PASCAL

Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), scientist, philosopher, and mathematician, was born in Clermont in Auvergne, France, the son of a nobleman who was a government official. A child prodigy, he learned Latin, Greek, mathematics, and science under his father's supervision. As a child he discovered Pythagoras's theorem. At sixteen he published a treatise on conic sections (projective geometry) and at eighteen invented a calculating machine. In 1646 he began work on the problem of the vacuum, which later led to his inventing the barometer. He made discoveries on the nature of probability, which, since his work was used to enhance gambling, troubled his soul.

Suddenly, on the night of November 23, 1654, he had a deeply religious experience. He calls it “The night of fire” and speaks of “joy, joy, joy, tears of joy!” and exhalts the “God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not the God of the philosophers and scholars.” From that time forward he devoted his entire energies to his faith. Eight years earlier he had already joined the Jansenists, a radical Catholic movement, seeking to purify the Church (for example, they proposed three yearly Lents, each consisting of forty days of fasting). Now he devoted his life to carrying out their ideals.

Pascal was struck with the insignificance of human life. Man is a creature of contradictions, a creature occupying a middle position in the universe between the infinitesimal and the infinite. He is an All in relation to Nothing, a Nothing in relation to the All. Man's condition is “inconstancy, boredom, anxiety … Man is only a reed, the weakest in nature, but he is a thinking reed.”

What kind of chimera then is man? What novelty, what monster, what chaos, what subject of con-
tradictions, what prodigy? Judge of all things, imbecile worm of the earth, depository of truth,
sink of uncertainty and error, glory and scum of the universe.
When I consider the short duration of my life, swallowed up in the eternity before and after,
the little space which I fill, and even can see, engulfed in the infinite immensity of space of which
I am ignorant, and which knows me not, I am frightened, and am astonished being here rather
than there, why now rather than then.

He held that faith was the appropriate mode for apprehending God, announcing that “the heart has reasons of its own which the mind knows nothing of.”

Know, then, proud man, what a paradox you are to yourself. Humble yourself, weak reason. Si-
lence yourself, foolish nature, learn that man infinitely surpasses man, and hear from your mas
ter your real state which you do not know … Hear God.

In the famous section from his Pensées (Thoughts) Pascal argues that if we do a costbenefit analysis of the matter, it turns out that it is eminently reasonable to get ourselves

Reprinted from Blaise Pascal, Thoughts, translated by W. F. Trotter (New York: Collier & Son, 1910).

-566-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Classics of Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Time Line xi
  • Part One - The Ancient Period 1
  • 1: The Pre-Socratics 3
  • 2: Plato 20
  • 3: Aristotle 240
  • 4: Epicurus 357
  • 5: Epictetus 363
  • 6: Sextus Empiricus 374
  • 7: Plotinus 391
  • Part Two - The Medieval Period 405
  • 8: Augustine 407
  • 9: Boethius 447
  • 10: Avicenna 455
  • 11: Anselm and Gaunilo 458
  • 12: Thomas Aquinas 462
  • 13: William of Ockham 486
  • Part Three - The Modern Period 493
  • 14: RenÉ Descartes 495
  • 15: Thomas Hobbes 525
  • 16: Blaise Pascal 566
  • 17: Baruch Spinoza 570
  • 18: Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz 618
  • 19: John Locke 652
  • 20: George Berkeley 690
  • 21: William Paley 723
  • 22: David Hume 726
  • 23: Immanuel Kant 819
  • 24: Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel 914
  • 25: SØren Kierkegaard 922
  • 26: Mary Wollstonecraft 935
  • 27: John Stuart Mill 942
  • 28: Friedrich Nietzsche 1030
  • Part Four - The Contemporary Period 1059
  • 29: W. K. Clifford 1061
  • 30: Charles Sanders Peirce 1066
  • 31: William James 1076
  • 32: Bertrand Russell 1100
  • 33: G. E. Moore 1142
  • 34: Ludwig Wittgenstein 1150
  • 35: Edmund Husserl 1168
  • 36: Martin Heidegger 1185
  • 37: Jean-Paul Sartre 1207
  • 38: A. J. Ayer 1225
  • 39: Thomas Nagel 1234
  • 40: Philippa Foot 1242
  • 41: Nelson Goodman 1249
  • 42: John Rawls 1254
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 1272

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.