Pascal's Pensées eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 370 pages of information about Pascal's Pensées.


Thoughts.—­In omnibus requiem quaesivi.[77] If our condition were truly happy, we would not need diversion from thinking of it in order to make ourselves happy.


Diversion.—­Death is easier to bear without thinking of it, than is the thought of death without peril.


The miseries of human life have established all this:  as men have seen this, they have taken up diversion.


Diversion.—­As men are not able to fight against death, misery, ignorance, they have taken it into their heads, in order to be happy, not to think of them at all.


Despite these miseries, man wishes to be happy, and only wishes to be happy, and cannot wish not to be so.  But how will he set about it?  To be happy he would have to make himself immortal; but, not being able to do so, it has occurred to him to prevent himself from thinking of death.


Diversion.—­If man were happy, he would be the more so, the less he was diverted, like the Saints and God.—­Yes; but is it not to be happy to have a faculty of being amused by diversion?—­No; for that comes from elsewhere and from without, and thus is dependent, and therefore subject to be disturbed by a thousand accidents, which bring inevitable griefs.


Misery.—­The only thing which consoles us for our miseries is diversion, and yet this it the greatest of our miseries.  For it is this which principally hinders us from reflecting upon ourselves, and which makes us insensibly ruin ourselves.  Without this we should be in a state of weariness, and this weariness would spur us to seek a more solid means of escaping from it.  But diversion amuses us, and leads us unconsciously to death.


We do not rest satisfied with the present.  We anticipate the future as too slow in coming, as if in order to hasten its course; or we recall the past, to stop its too rapid flight.  So imprudent are we that we wander in the times which are not ours, and do not think of the only one which belongs to us; and so idle are we that we dream of those times which are no more, and thoughtlessly overlook that which alone exists.  For the present is generally painful to us.  We conceal it from our sight, because it troubles us; and if it be delightful to us, we regret to see it pass away.  We try to sustain it by the future, and think of arranging matters which are not in our power, for a time which we have no certainty of reaching.

Let each one examine his thoughts, and he will find them all occupied with the past and the future.  We scarcely ever think of the present; and if we think of it, it is only to take light from it to arrange the future.  The present is never our end.  The past and the present are our means; the future alone is our end.[78] So we never live, but we hope to live; and, as we are always preparing to be happy, it is inevitable we should never be so.

Project Gutenberg
Pascal's Pensées from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
Follow Us on Facebook