Pondering the Pensees by Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal (1623–1662) studying the cycloid...

Blaise Pascal (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Blaise Pascal was a 17th century philosopher and mathematician who lived from 1623-1662 and died at the relatively young age of 39.  As a home educator who allows her children the freedom to learn at home I was intrigued to discover that Pascal was also educated entirely at home with his father.  Some of his thoughts were written in the Pensees, which literally translated from the French is “thoughts,” and was basically a defense of Christianity. It was in the Pensees that he wrote these oft quoted words “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of every person, and it can never be filled by any created thing. It can only be filled by God, made known through Jesus Christ.”

Another translation puts it this way “What is it then that this desire and this inability proclaim to us, but that there was once in man a true happiness of which there now remain to him only the mark and empty trace, which he in vain tries to fill from all his surroundings, seeking from things absent the help he does not obtain in things present? But these are all inadequate, because the infinite abyss can only be filled by an infinite and immutable object, that is to say, only by God Himself.”

Pascal was likely referring to the writing of St Augustine (354-430) who in his Confessions said “God, you have made us for yourself, and our hearts are restless till they find their rest in you.

 “My heart inclines wholly to know where is the true good, in order to follow it; nothing would be too dear to me for eternity.” also from the Pensees

T.S. Eliot once said of Pascal that, “Above all, he was a man of strong passions; and his intellectual passion for truth was reinforced by his passionate dissatisfaction with human life unless a spiritual explanation could be found.”

I have only recently discovered the Pensees and think it would make fine reading material for the coffee table or even the powder room as it is a collection of thoughts that each stand alone as well as making a complete and composite work.  I am not sure if I will actually fit the entirety of the Pensees into my 2013 reading list, but it has been added to my much longer list of literature to read at some point in time in the hazy future.

Have you discovered any literary gems lately?  I am curious to know what my readers read when you’re not exploring the library of posts here at Worthy Books & Things.

© Una-Melina // Worthy Books & Things, 2013.

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    © Una-Melina // Worthy Books & Things, 2012-2017.

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  • An award-winning poet and freelance writer, Una-Melina is the creator and curator of Worthy Books & Things, an online community interested in Faith, Culture, Creativity & Family where she fearlessly blogs about her life, art, faith, family, and ministry.

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