Pascal: Genius in the Light of Scripture

Pascal: Genius in the Light of Scripture

Pascal: Genius in the Light of Scripture

Pascal: Genius in the Light of Scripture

Excerpt

Throughout the course of Pascal's life and work, there emerged a unity of design taking shape amid a diversity of subject matter: geometry, arithmetic, mechanics, physics, theology, polemics, morality, spirituality. The list of the recorded writings of Pascal is so encyclopedic in character as to baffle one's imagination. What this list actually indicates, however, is the multiplicity of opportunities in a single lifework. Paul Desjardins felicitously describes it when he says that we may here discern in essence" the progressive emancipation of intelligence."

The peculiar genius of this personality consists in laying bare the inner logic that lies at the source of human contradictions. When Pascal encounters a network of difficulties, a skein which appears hopelessly tangled, he brings to bear on it the energy of a keen mind, yet always refuses to cut the Gordian knot. Instinctively he feels his way toward a higher plane where the human antinomy is resolved with divine simplicity. His faith thus sharpens his intelligence. Intelligere forPascal is always intus legere. As he strains toward a solution, the final stages become easier. It is as though a hand had reached down to help. Has he at last found God, or been found of Him? Does it mean that from the first his wager has been placed on the right side, or that the deciding factor in his choice was, not his own will, but the hand of a "hidden God"? Or, rather, are these not two ways of looking at the same reality? Thus Pascal confronts the Biblical notion of election, which troubles . . .

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