Pascal: The Emergence of Genius

By Emile Cailliet | Go to book overview

APPENDIX TO THE TORCHBOOK EDITION: RECENT RESEARCH

The task now remains to consider the bearing of the latest Pascalian scholarship on what has been said. Our aim is not merely to bring this book up-to-date. It is also to allow fresh information and new insights either to disclose areas of agreement, or to suggest rectification, modification in emphasis, and further amplification as necessary.

We need hardly remind the reader that our method of approach has been determined by the basic concept of emergence in the setting of the Pascalian perspective of orders. We have accordingly insisted that the rise of Pascal cannot be understood in terms of an anthropology of naturalistic inspiration. Probably the greatest culprit in this connection has been P. L. Couchoud whose sociological interpretation of New Testament Christianity may still be remembered by a few. Curiously enough, the man who dared appropriate a hallowed Pascalian title to dispose of the historical Jesus1 has more recently called upon his naturalistic presuppositions to reduce Pascal's Apology for Christianity to a kind of "Discourse on the Condition of Man."2 Neither his versatile scholarship nor the literary merit of his prose has succeeded in veiling the shakiness of his hypotheses.

Infinitely less impressive is the unfinished "infernal tale"3 devised in his prison cell by the late monarchist Charles Maurras.4 According to his fancy, the shade of M. de Saci in the nether world, having caught sight of Pascal being ferried across the Styx, hastens to reproach him for a number of things. Most of his complaints turn out to be unfounded distortions. Thus the well-worn accusations that Pascal meant to humiliate and belittle reason, and that the Pensées were notes for a book in which that most noble of all human faculties would be made

____________________
1
In two articles published in the Mercuye de France on March 1, 1923, and March 1, 1924, later amplified and published under the title, Le mystère de Jésus, 1924.
2
Couchoud P. L., Discours sur la condition de l'homme; ce qui reste du manuscrit en representation phototypique et restitution, , A. Michel, Paris, 1948.
3
Maurras Ch., Pascal puni, conte infernal présenté par Henri Massis, Flammarion, Paris, 1953.
4
between 1945 and March, 1952. The former editor in chief of L'Action Française, the royalist Parisian daily newspaper, died in 1952, eight months after his release.

-364-

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Pascal: The Emergence of Genius
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Introduction to the Torchbook Edition 6
  • Preface to the Torchbook Edition 14
  • I - The Emergence of a Pilgrim 17
  • II - An Open Mind in the Making 39
  • III - The Jansenist Quickening 53
  • IV - The Physicist Confronting His Bible 67
  • V - The Source of Our Unhappiness 85
  • VI - Pascal's Hour of Agony 111
  • VII - Fire in the Night 131
  • VIII - Glimpse of a Sanctuary 149
  • IX - The New Vista 167
  • X - Not Peace, but a Sword 187
  • XI - The Champion 207
  • XII - The Sign in the Midst of Battle 223
  • XIII - The Dictates of Conscience 243
  • XIV - Fighting a New Inquisition 267
  • XV - A Lamp Unto My Feet 289
  • XVI - Running the Way of the Lord 311
  • XVII - Holy Anxiety 339
  • XVIII - Meditation on a Death Mask 361
  • Appendix to the Torchbook Edition: Recent Research 364
  • Index 375
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