Pascal's Pensées eBook

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


The aperitive virtue of a key, the attractive virtue of a hook.


To guess:  “The part that I take in your trouble.”  The Cardinal[19] did not want to be guessed.

“My mind is disquieted.” I am disquieted is better.


I always feel uncomfortable under such compliments as these:  “I have given you a great deal of trouble,” “I am afraid I am boring you,” “I fear this is too long.”  We either carry our audience with us, or irritate them.


You are ungraceful:  “Excuse me, pray.”  Without that excuse I would not have known there was anything amiss.  “With reverence be it spoken....”  The only thing bad is their excuse.


“To extinguish the torch of sedition”; too luxuriant.  “The restlessness of his genius”; two superfluous grand words.




First part:  Misery of man without God.

Second part:  Happiness of man with God.

Or, First part:  That nature is corrupt.  Proved by nature itself.

Second part:  That there is a Redeemer.  Proved by Scripture.


Order.—­I might well have taken this discourse in an order like this:  to show the vanity of all conditions of men, to show the vanity of ordinary lives, and then the vanity of philosophic lives, sceptics, stoics; but the order would not have been kept.  I know a little what it is, and how few people understand it.  No human science can keep it.  Saint Thomas[20] did not keep it.  Mathematics keep it, but they are useless on account of their depth.


Preface to the first part.—­To speak of those who have treated of the knowledge of self; of the divisions of Charron,[21] which sadden and weary us; of the confusion of Montaigne;[22] that he was quite aware of his want of method, and shunned it by jumping from subject to subject; that he sought to be fashionable.

His foolish project of describing himself!  And this not casually and against his maxims, since every one makes mistakes, but by his maxims themselves, and by first and chief design.  For to say silly things by chance and weakness is a common misfortune; but to say them intentionally is intolerable, and to say such as that ...


Montaigne.—­Montaigne’s faults are great.  Lewd words; this is bad, notwithstanding Mademoiselle de Gournay.[23] Credulous; people without eyes.[24] Ignorant; squaring the circle,[25] a greater world.[26] His opinions on suicide, on death.[27] He suggests an indifference about salvation, without fear and without repentance.[28] As his book was not written with a religious purpose, he was not bound to mention religion; but it is always our duty not to turn men from it.  One can excuse his rather free and licentious opinions on some relations of life (730,231)[29]; but one cannot excuse his thoroughly pagan views on death, for a man must renounce piety altogether, if he does not at least wish to die like a Christian.  Now, through the whole of his book his only conception of death is a cowardly and effeminate one.

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Pascal's Pensées from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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