Pascal's Pensées eBook

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


Tyranny consists in the desire of universal power beyond its scope.

There are different assemblies of the strong, the fair, the sensible, the pious, in which each man rules at home, not elsewhere.  And sometimes they meet, and the strong and the fair foolishly fight as to who shall be master, for their mastery is of different kinds.  They do not understand one another, and their fault is the desire to rule everywhere.  Nothing can effect this, not even might, which is of no use in the kingdom of the wise, and is only mistress of external actions.

Tyranny—...  So these expressions are false and tyrannical:  “I am fair, therefore I must be feared.  I am strong, therefore I must be loved.  I am ...”

Tyranny is the wish to have in one way what can only be had in another.  We render different duties to different merits; the duty of love to the pleasant; the duty of fear to the strong; the duty of belief to the learned.

We must render these duties; it is unjust to refuse them, and unjust to ask others.  And so it is false and tyrannical to say, “He is not strong, therefore I will not esteem him; he is not able, therefore I will not fear him.”


Have you never seen people who, in order to complain of the little fuss you make about them, parade before you the example of great men who esteem them?  In answer I reply to them, “Show me the merit whereby you have charmed these persons, and I also will esteem you.”


The reason of effects.—­Lust and force are the source of all our actions; lust causes voluntary actions, force involuntary ones.


The reason of effects.—­It is then true to say that all the world is under a delusion; for, although the opinions of the people are sound, they are not so as conceived by them, since they think the truth to be where it is not.  Truth is indeed in their opinions, but not at the point where they imagine it. [Thus] it is true that we must honour noblemen, but not because noble birth is real superiority, etc.


The reason of effects.—­We must keep our thought secret, and judge everything by it, while talking like the people.


The reason of effects.—­Degrees.  The people honour persons of high birth.  The semi-learned despise them, saying that birth is not a personal, but a chance superiority.  The learned honour them, not for popular reasons, but for secret reasons.  Devout persons, who have more zeal than knowledge, despise them, in spite of that consideration which makes them honoured by the learned, because they judge them by a new light which piety gives them.  But perfect Christians honour them by another and higher light.  So arise a succession of opinions for and against, according to the light one has.


True Christians nevertheless comply with folly, not because they respect folly, but the command of God, who for the punishment of men has made them subject to these follies. Omnis creatura subjecta est vanitati.[125] Liberabitur.[126] Thus Saint Thomas[127] explains the passage in Saint James on giving place to the rich, that if they do it not in the sight of God, they depart from the command of religion.

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Pascal's Pensées from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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