Pascal, Pensées, S 651–679

Index for this series

Simon Stevin, “La Spartostatique”
Les Œuvres Mathematiques (1634)
See S 667 below

The reading is Sellier 651–79, which is Lafuma 432, 504–14, and 799–829, thus:

Labels are

Sellier–La Guern–Lafuma–Brunschvicg.



How does one come to believe or understand?


Il y a trois moyens de croire :

  1. la raison,
  2. la coutume,
  3. l’inspiration la révélation.

La religion chrétienne, qui seule a la raison, n’admet point pour ses vrais enfants ceux qui croient sans inspiration


Il y a deux manières de persuader les vérités de notre religion :

  1. l’une par la force de la raison,
  2. l’autre par l’autorité de celui qui parle

nous sommes automate autant qu’esprit. Et de là vient que l’instrument par lequel la persuasion se fait n’est pas la seule démonstration


Diverses sortes de sens droit, les uns dans un certain ordre de choses et non dans les autres ordres où ils extravaguent


Géométrie / finesse … la morale du jugement se moque de la morale de l’esprit qui est sans règles. Car

  • le jugement est celui à qui appartient le sentiment, comme
  • les sciences appartiennent à l’esprit.


  • vous ne devez rien croire sans vous mettre en l’état comme si jamais vous ne l’aviez ouï

  • C’est le consentement de vous à vous‑même … qui vous doit faire croire

  • Punition de ceux qui pèchent : erreur (and nothing else)


À mesure qu’on a plus d’esprit, on trouve qu’il y a plus d’hommes originaux



nous voulons vivre dans l’idée des autres d’une vie imaginaire … qui ne mourrait pour conserver son honneur, celui‑là serait infâme


ces cordes qui attachent donc le respect à tel et à tel en particulier sont des cordes d’imagination


  • Pensées diverses VII (SÉRIE XXIX)

    • Fragment n° 1 / 10 Genesis 17 on the mutual obligation between God and the seed of Moses. The chapter begins with the command, “Be thou perfect” (or “blameless”)

    • Fragment n° 2 / 10 As scripture both consoles and intimidates, so does nature with the two infinities, be they natural or moral

    • Fragment n° 3 / 10 Quotes from Wisdom 4:12, Psalm 76:5, I Corinthians 7:31, Deuteronomy 8:9, Luke 11:3, Psalm 72:9, Exodus 12:8, Psalm 141:10:

      For the bewitching of naughtiness (fascinatio [nugacitatis]) doth obscure things that are honest; and the wandering of concupiscence doth undermine the simple mind.

      The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep (somnum suum): and none of the men of might have found their hands.

      And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world (figura hujus mundi) passeth away.

      A land wherein thou shalt eat bread (comedes panem tuum) without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.

      Give us day by day our daily bread (panem nostrum).

      They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust (inimici Dei terram lingent).

      And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs (des laitues sauvages, cum amaritudinibus) they shall eat it.

      Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape (singularis sum ego donec transeam).

      Time heals all wounds; we change

      La vie est un songe un peu moins inconstant

      In the classics (Virgil and Ovid, perhaps Hesiod and Herodotus), can we see recognition of original sin and the chance of life in heaven?

      We can please people against their own good

      Nous voulons vivre dans l’idée des autres d’une vie imaginaire. To die for honor seems to a sign of this for Pascal

    • Fragment n° 4 / 10 John 8:30–3 on disciples and true disciples; are the former as it were in the Cave of Socrates?

      As he spake these words, many believed on him.
      Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
      And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
      ¶ They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?

    • Fragment n° 5 / 10 Il y a trois moyens de croire : la raison, la coutume, l’inspiration la révélation. La religion chrétienne, qui seule a la raison, n’admet point pour ses vrais enfants ceux qui croient sans inspiration. 1 Corinthians 1:17:

      For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect (ne evacuetur crux Christi).

    • Fragment n° 6 / 10 It is incomprehensible, both that

      • God exist, and not;
      • the body have a soul, and not;
      • the earth be created, and not;
      • original sin exist, and not
    • Fragment n° 7 / 10 Augustine:

      What, then, can be done for men who despise smaller evidences as inadequate, and reject greater evidences as incredible?

    • Fragment n° 8 / 10 Les deux plus anciens livres du monde sont Moïse et Job, l’un juif l’autre païen, qui tous deux regardent Jésus-Christ comme leur centre commun et leur objet. E.g. Job says, “For I know that my redeemer liveth”

      The gospel admirably, unnoticeably, by design, lacks aucune invective contre les bourreux et ennemis de Jésus-Christ

      Jamais on ne fait le mal si pleinement et si gaiement que quand on le fait par conscience

      A paradox: you practically must be incorrupt already to choose companions will not corrupt you

    • Fragment n° 9 / 10 Those who can avoid thinking, preserve religion, be it false or true; those who cannot, undo it, s’ils ne trouvent des discours solides. Talmud: “prevent your children from logic (higgayon) when studying verses that tend toward heresy”

      It’s up to you to renounce pleasures for the sake of faith

      Pascal avoids the influence of having been born into Christianity

    • Fragment n° 10 / 10 Jesus is victory over death, fulfilment of law, lamb that removes sin, manna from heaven

      Prophecies of ordinary things and Jesus are mixed

      For persuasion: force of reason, or authority

  • Pensées diverses VIII (SÉRIE XXX)

    • Fragment n° 1 / 6 We are mind and automaton, persuaded by demonstration and custom

    • Fragment n° 2 / 6 Notes for S 681. My selections: You have to be in the religion they scorn not to scorn thm. It’s bad to be in doubt, worse not to search while in doubt. Blindness to the supernatural cannot be natural

    • Fragment n° 3 / 6 China predates the Deluge

    • Fragment n° 4 / 6 Will an heir find the title of his house and think it can be false?

    • Fragment n° 5 / 6 La Loi obligeait à ce qu’elle ne donnait pas, la grâce donne ce à quoi elle oblige

    • Fragment n° 6 / 6 Skeptical remarks. Why would God lay people low, only to raise them up? Why would Jesus’s own people not receive him?

  • Pensées diverses IX (SÉRIE XXXI)

    • Fragment n° 1 / 1 In the clouds, Moses saw the truth, which he had the Jews copy on earth, so that when truth itself came to earth, it could be recognized

      Paul on marriage

      Cords of necessity between us are replaced by cords of imagination

      The soul engages only fleetingly in mental effort

  • Géométrie-Finesse I (SÉRIE XXI)

    • Fragment n° 1 / 1 Words may mask and disguise nature.

      À mesure qu’on a plus d’esprit, on trouve qu’il y a plus d’hommes originaux.

      Concerning principles,

      • l’esprit de justesse penetrates deeply,
      • l’esprit de géométrie comprehends many
  • Géométrie-Finesse II (SÉRIE XXII)

    • Fragment n° 1 / 2 In

      • l’esprit de géométrie, les principes sont palpables mais éloignés de l’usage commun;
      • l’esprit de finesse, les principes sont si déliés et en si grand nombre, qu’il est presque impossible qu’il n’en échappe
    • Fragment n° 2 / 2 I make a table:

    jugement sentiment finesse
    science esprit géometrie
  • Règle de la créance (SÉRIE XX)

    The remaining seven fragments consist of Latin quotations made originally by Montaigne

Pensées diverses VII (SÉRIE XXIX)

Fragment n° 1 / 10


Gen., 17. Statuam pactum meum inter me et te fœdere sempiterno, ut sim Deus tuus.

Et tu ergo custodies pactum meum.

The reference is to the mutual obligation of the covenant of God with Abraham. Genesis 17 begins with the command that is “be thou perfect” in the KJV, though “be blameless” in the RSV. The former leads me to Matthew 5:48:

Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect.

Ἔσεσθε οὖν ὑμεῖς τέλειοι ὡς ὁ πατὴρ ὑμῶν ὁ οὐράνιος τέλειός ἐστιν.

The references for this in the GNT of Aland et al. are only Leviticus 19:2 and Deuteronomy 18:13:

Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the Lord your God am holy.

λάλησον τῇ συναγωγῇ τῶν υἱῶν ᾿Ισραὴλ καὶ ἐρεῖς πρὸς αὐτούς· ἅγιοι ἔσεσθε, ὅτι ἅγιος ἐγὼ Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς ὑμῶν.

Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God.

τέλειος ἔσῃ ἐναντίον Κυρίου τοῦ Θεοῦ σου.

All of this expresses the human obligation to be divine: τέλειος, ἅγιος, or now in Genesis 17:1, ἄμεμπτος; for here are the first 16 of the 27 verses of the chapter:

ΕΓΕΝΕΤΟ δὲ ῞Αβραμ ἐτῶν ἐνενηκονταεννέα, καὶ ὤφθη Κύριος τῷ ῞Αβραμ καὶ εἶπεν αὐτῷ· ἐγώ εἰμι ὁ Θεός σου· εὐαρέστει ἐνώπιον ἐμοῦ καὶ γίνου ἄμεμπτος,

AND when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect.
2 And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly.
3 And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying,
4 As for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations.
5 Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee.
6 And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee.
7 And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
8 And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.
9 And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
10 This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised.
11 And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you.
12 And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.
13 He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
14 And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant.
15 And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.
16 And I will bless her, and give thee a son also of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

Fragment n° 2 / 10


L’Écriture a pourvu de passages

  • pour consoler toutes les conditions, et
  • pour intimider toutes les conditions.

La nature semble avoir fait la même chose par ces deux infinis, naturels et moraux. Car nous aurons toujours

  • du dessus et du dessous,
  • de plus habiles et de moins habiles,
  • de plus élevés et de plus misérables,


  • abaisser notre orgueil et
  • relever notre abjection.

In the previous reading, (645)–(654)–783–357, in the pursuit of virtue, the two infinities did to us what is now called intimidating. We thus (though the French may be ambiguous) impugned the perfection just considered under the first fragment above.

Also in that previous reading, 638–648–774–497, orgueil was paired with paresse or relâchement, these being combatted respectively by justice and miséricorde.

Fragment n° 3 / 10



Somnum suum.

Figura hujus mundi.

The context of the first and third of these quotations is critical of children and their begetting.

See the first reading, 5–386–203, on fascinatio nugacitatis, which is from verse 12 of Wisdom 4 (20 verses):

BETTER it is to have no children, and to have virtue: for the memorial thereof is immortal: because it is known with God, and with men.
2 When it is present, men take example at it; and when it is gone, they desire it: it weareth a crown, and triumpheth for ever, having gotten the victory, striving for undefiled rewards.
3 But the multiplying brood of the ungodly shall not thrive, nor take deep rooting from bastard slips, nor lay any fast foundation.
4 For though they flourish in branches for a time; yet standing not last, they shall be shaken with the wind, and through the force of winds they shall be rooted out.
5 The imperfect branches shall be broken off, their fruit unprofitable, not ripe to eat, yea, meet for nothing.
6 For children begotten of unlawful beds are witnesses of wickedness against their parents in their trial.
7 But though the righteous be prevented with death, yet shall he be in rest.
8 For honourable age is not that which standeth in length of time, nor that is measured by number of years.
9 But wisdom is the gray hair unto men, and an unspotted life is old age.
10 He pleased God, and was beloved of him: so that living among sinners he was translated.
11 Yea speedily was he taken away, lest that wickedness should alter his understanding, or deceit beguile his soul.
12 For the bewitching of naughtiness doth obscure things that are honest; and the wandering of concupiscence doth undermine the simple mind.

Psalm 76 (entire):

To the chief Musician on Neginoth,
A Psalm or Song of Asaph.

IN Judah is God known: his name is great in Israel.
2 In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion.
3 There brake he the arrows of the bow, the shield, and the sword, and the battle. Selah.
4 Thou art more glorious and excellent than the mountains of prey.
5 The stouthearted are spoiled, they have slept their sleep: and none of the men of might have found their hands.
6 At thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a dead sleep.
7 Thou, even thou, art to be feared: and who may stand in thy sight when once thou art angry?
8 Thou didst cause judgment to be heard from heaven; the earth feared, and was still,
9 When God arose to judgment, to save all the meek of the earth. Selah.
10 Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee: the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain.
11 Vow, and pay unto the Lord your God: let all that be round about him bring presents unto him that ought to be feared.
12 He shall cut off the spirit of princes: he is terrible to the kings of the earth.

1 Corinthians 7 (40 verses):

NOW concerning the things whereof ye wrote unto me: It is good for a man not to touch a woman.
2 Nevertheless, to avoid fornication, let every man have his own wife, and let every woman have her own husband.
3 Let the husband render unto the wife due benevolence: and likewise also the wife unto the husband.
4 The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.

27 Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.
28 But and if thou marry, thou hast not sinned; and if a virgin marry, she hath not sinned. Nevertheless such shall have trouble in the flesh: but I spare you.
29 But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;
30 And they that weep, as though they wept not; and they that rejoice, as though they rejoiced not; and they that buy, as though they possessed not;
31 And they that use this world, as not abusing it: for the fashion of this world passeth away.

καὶ οἱ χρώμενοι τὸν κόσμον ὡς μὴ καταχρώμενοι · παράγει γὰρ τὸ σχῆμα τοῦ κόσμου τούτου.

32 But I would have you without carefulness. He that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord:
33 But he that is married careth for the things that are of the world, how he may please his wife.
34 There is difference also between a wife and a virgin. The unmarried woman careth for the things of the Lord, that she may be holy both in body and in spirit: but she that is married careth for the things of the world, how she may please her husband.


Comedes panem tuum / panem nostrum.

Deuteronomy 8 (entire):

ALL the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers.
2 And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no.
3 And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live.
4 Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years.
5 Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee.
6 Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.
7 For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills;
8 A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey;
9 A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.
10 When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee.
11 Beware that thou forget not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments, and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day:
12 Lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein;
13 And when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied;
14 Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage;
15 Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint;
16 Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end;
17 And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth.
18 But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God: for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day.
19 And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish.
20 As the nations which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.

Luke 11 (54 verses):

AND it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.
2 And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth.
3 Give us day by day our daily bread.
4 And forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.
5 And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
6 For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
7 And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
8 I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.
9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
11 If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12 Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

Inimici Dei terram lingent. Les pécheurs lèchent la terre, c’est‑à‑dire aiment les plaisirs terrestres.

Lick the dust, eat dust, bite the dust: it’s not clear that any of these should refer to earthly pleasures.

Psalm 72 (entire):

A Psalm for Solomon.

GIVE the king thy judgments, O God, and thy righteousness unto the king’s son.
2 He shall judge thy people with righteousness, and thy poor with judgment.
3 The mountains shall bring peace to the people, and the little hills, by righteousness.
4 He shall judge the poor of the people, he shall save the children of the needy, and shall break in pieces the oppressor.
5 They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.
6 He shall come down like rain upon the mown grass: as showers that water the earth.
7 In his days shall the righteous flourish; and abundance of peace so long as the moon endureth.
8 He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
9 They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before him; and his enemies shall lick the dust.
10 The kings of Tarshish and of the isles shall bring presents: the kings of Sheba and Seba shall offer gifts.
11 Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him.
12 For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper.
13 He shall spare the poor and needy, and shall save the souls of the needy.
14 He shall redeem their soul from deceit and violence: and precious shall their blood be in his sight.
15 And he shall live, and to him shall be given of the gold of Sheba: prayer also shall be made for him continually; and daily shall he be praised.
16 There shall be an handful of corn in the earth upon the top of the mountains; the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon: and they of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth.
17 His name shall endure for ever: his name shall be continued as long as the sun: and men shall be blessed in him: all nations shall call him blessed.
18 Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only doeth wondrous things.
19 And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen.
20 The prayers of David the son of Jesse are ended.

L’Ancien Testament contenait les figures de la joie future et le Nouveau contient les moyens d’y arriver.

Les figures étaient de joie, les moyens de pénitence, et néanmoins l’agneau pascal était mangé avec des laitues sauvages, cum amaritudinibus.

Exodus 12 (51 verses):

AND the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, saying,
2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.
3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:
4 And if the household be too little for the lamb, let him and his neighbour next unto his house take it according to the number of the souls; every man according to his eating shall make your count for the lamb.
5 Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year: ye shall take it out from the sheep, or from the goats:
6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.
7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.
8 And they shall eat the flesh in that night, roast with fire, and unleavened bread; and with bitter herbs they shall eat it.
9 Eat not of it raw, nor sodden at all with water, but roast with fire; his head with his legs, and with the purtenance thereof.
10 And ye shall let nothing of it remain until the morning; and that which remaineth of it until the morning ye shall burn with fire.
11 And thus shall ye eat it; with your loins girded, your shoes on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and ye shall eat it in haste: it is the Lord’s passover.
12 For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the Lord.
13 And the blood shall be to you for a token upon the houses where ye are: and when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and the plague shall not be upon you to destroy you, when I smite the land of Egypt.
14 And this day shall be unto you for a memorial; and ye shall keep it a feast to the Lord throughout your generations; ye shall keep it a feast by an ordinance for ever.

Singularis sum ego donec transeam. Jésus-Christ avant sa mort était presque seul de martyr.

Psalm 141 (entire):

A Psalm of David.

LORD, I cry unto thee: make haste unto me; give ear unto my voice, when I cry unto thee.
2 Let my prayer be set forth before thee as incense; and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.
3 Set a watch, O Lord, before my mouth; keep the door of my lips.
4 Incline not my heart to any evil thing, to practise wicked works with men that work iniquity: and let me not eat of their dainties.
5 Let the righteous smite me; it shall be a kindness: and let him reprove me; it shall be an excellent oil, which shall not break my head: for yet my prayer also shall be in their calamities.
6 When their judges are overthrown in stony places, they shall hear my words; for they are sweet.
7 Our bones are scattered at the grave’s mouth, as when one cutteth and cleaveth wood upon the earth.
8 But mine eyes are unto thee, O God the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.
9 Keep me from the snares which they have laid for me, and the gins of the workers of iniquity.
10 Let the wicked fall into their own nets, whilst that I withal escape.


Le temps guérit les douleurs et les querelles. Parce qu’on change, on n’est plus la même personne. Ni l’offensant ni l’offensé ne sont plus eux‑mêmes. C’est comme un peuple qu’on a irrité et qu’on reverrait après deux générations : ce sont encore les Français, mais non les mêmes.


Si nous rêvions toutes les nuits la même chose, elle nous affecterait autant que les objets que nous voyons tous les jours. Et si un artisan était sûr de rêver toutes les nuits, douze heures durant, qu’on est roi, je crois qu’il serait presque aussi heureux qu’un roi qui rêverait toutes les nuits, douze heures durant, qu’il serait artisan.

Si nous rêvions toutes les nuits que nous sommes poursuivis par des ennemis et agités par ces fantômes pénibles, et qu’on passât tous les jours en diverses occupations comme quand on fait voyage, on souffrirait presque autant que si cela était véritable, et on appréhenderait le dormir comme on appréhende le réveil quand on craint d’entrer dans de tels malheurs en effet. Et en effet il ferait à peu près les mêmes maux que la réalité.

Mais parce que les songes sont tous différents et que l’un même se diversifie, ce qu’on y voit affecte bien moins que ce qu’on voit en veillant, à cause de la continuité qui n’est pourtant pas si continue et égale qu’elle ne change aussi, mais moins brusquement, si ce n’est rarement, comme quand on voyage, et alors on dit : Il me semble que je rêve ; car la vie est un songe un peu moins inconstant.

How do we distinguish dreaming from waking? This is like distinguishing past and present, in the process of doing history, if, as by Collingwood’s account in An Autobiography (1939, pp. 109–14), history is re-enactment of the past:

History and pseudo-history alike consisted of narratives: but in history these were narratives of purposive activity, and the evidence for them consisted of relics they had left behind (books or potsherds, the principle was the same) which became evidence precisely to the extent to which the historian conceived them in terms of purpose, that is, understood what they were for …

I expressed this new conception of history in the phrase: ‘all history is the history of thought.’ You are thinking historically, I meant, when you say about anything, ‘I see what the person who made this (wrote this, used this, designed this, &c.) was thinking.’ …

On what conditions was it possible to know the history of a thought? First, the thought must be expressed: either in what we call language, or in one of the many other forms of expressive activity. Historical painters seem to regard an outstretched arm and a pointing hand as the characteristic gesture expressing the thought of a commanding officer. Running away expresses the thought that all hope of victory is gone. Secondly, the historian must be able to think over again for himself the thought whose expression he is trying to interpret …

This gave me a second proposition: ‘historical knowledge is the re-enactment in the historian’s mind of the thought whose history he is studying.’ When I understand what Nelson meant by saying, ‘in honour I won them, in honour I will die with them’, what I am doing is to think myself into the position of being all covered with decorations and exposed at short range to themusketeers in the enemy’s tops, and being advised to make myself a less conspicuous target. I ask myself the question, shall I change my coat? and reply in those words …

But this re-enactment of Nelson’s thought is a re-enactment with a difference. Nelson’s thought, as Nelson thought it and as I re-think it, is certainly one and the same thought; and yet in some way there is not one thought, there are two different thoughts. What was the difference? No question in my study of historical method ever gave me so much trouble; and the answer was not complete until some years later. The difference is one of context. To Nelson, that thought was a present thought; to me, it is a past thought living in the present but (as I have elsewhere put it) incapsulated, not free. What is an incapsulated thought? It is a thought which, though perfectly alive, forms no part of the question-answer complex which constitutes what people call the ‘real’ life, the superficial or obvious present, of the mind in question …

So I reached my third proposition: ‘Historical knowledge is the re-enactment of a past thought incapsulated in a context of present thoughts which, by contradicting it, confine it to a plane different from theirs.’

How is one to know which of these planes is ‘real’ life, and which mere ‘history’? By watching the way in which historical problems arise. Every historical problem ultimately arises out of ‘real’ life. The scissors-and-paste men think differently: they think that first of all people get into the habit of reading books, and then the books put questions into their heads. But I am not talking about scissors-and-paste history. In the kind of history that I am thinking of, the kind I have been practising all my life, historical problems arise out of practical problems. We study history in order to see more clearly into the situation in which we are called upon to act. Hence the plane on which, ultimately, all problems arise is the plane of ‘real’ life: that to which they are referred for their solution is history.


  • Dira‑t‑on que, pour avoir dit que la justice est partie de la terre, les hommes aient connu le péché originel ?

  • Nemo ante obitum beatus [personne ne peut être dit heureux avant qu’il ne meure]. Est‑ce à dire qu’ils aient connu qu’à la mort la béatitude éternelle et essentielle commence ?

In old stories, in Greek and Latin, there is a fall of man, but the possibility of a successful conclusion of life. One may detect Christian doctrine in this. It’s not clear whether Pascal is suggesting this himself, or ridiculing it.

If he is trying to understand the classics, then perhaps just so have I tried to understand Pascal by seeking echoes of writers that I know, such as Thoreau, Maugham, Collingwood, C. S. Lewis, and Annie Dillard.

Any human may notice, as Pascal said in the ninth reading, 557–572–678–358,

L’homme n’est ni ange ni bête, et le malheur veut que qui veut faire l’ange fait la bête.

One might call this the recognition of original sin, as I more or less suggested then.

Pascal’s first allusion is apparently to Virgil, Georgics II, in the 1649 translation of John Ogilby. I note how, Justice having left the earth, Virgil considers that the Muses might make the heavens known to him, as Pascal in the last reading, 645–654–782–266, considered the possibility of looking at the earth from the moon.

Oh happie Swaines if their own good they knew,
To whom just Earth remote from cruel wars
From her full breasts soft nourishment prepares:
Although from high roofes through proud Arches come
No floods of Clients early from each roome;
Nor Marble pillars seek which bright shels grace,
Gold-woven vestments, nor Chorinthian brasse;
Nor white wool stain’d in the Assyrian juice,
Nor simple oyle corrupt with Cassias use:
But rest secure, a fraudless life in peace,
Variously rich in their large Farmes at ease;
Tempe’s coole shades, dark Caves, and purling streams,
Lowings of Cattell, under trees soft dreams,
Nor lack they woods, and dens, where wilde beasts haunt,
Youth in toyle patient. and inur’d to want.
Their Gods and parents sacred; Justice tooke,
Through those her last steps when she Earth forsook.

Let the sweet Muses most of me approve,
VVhose Priest I am, struck with almighty Love.
They shall to me Heavens starrie tracts make known;
And strange Eclipses of the Sun and Moon.
Thence Earthquakes are, why the swolne Ocean beats
Over his banks, and then again retreats:
Why Winter Suns hast so to touch the maine,
And what delayes the tardie night restraine.
But if these gifts of Nature I not finde,
And a cold blood beleaguereth my minde.
Then I’le delight in vales, nere pleasant floods,
And unrenown’d, haunt rivers, hils, and woods;
Thy banks sweet Sperchius, and Taygeta, where
The Grecian virgins stately feasts prepare.

This may reflect Hesiod, Works and Days, or what Chapman calls Georgicks in his 1618 translation, where the five ages of humanity are described, gold, silver, bronze, heroic, and now iron. One could also see Hesiod as a source or foretaste of Luke 12:53,

The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father …

alluded to in the last reading, 645–654–785–776, when Pascal says,

Saint Jean devait convertir les cœurs des pères aux enfants, et Jésus-Christ mettre la division. Sans contradiction.

But here is Hesiod on the age of iron:

O that, I might not liue now; To partake,
The Age, that must, the fift succession make;
But either Dy before; Or else were borne,
When all that Age, is into ashes worne.
For, that which next springs, in supply of this,
Will all of Iron, produce his families;
Whose bloods, shall be so banefully Corrupt,
They shall not let them sleepe; But interrupt,
With Toiles, and Miseries, All their Rests, And fares.
The Gods, such graue, and soule-dissecting cares,
Shall steepe their Bosomes in; And yet, some Good,
Will God mixe with their bad; for when the blood,
Faints in their nourishment; And leaues their haire,
A little gray; Ioues hand, will stop the Aire,
Twixt them, and life; And take them straight away.
Twixt Men, and women, shall be such foule play,
In their begetting pleasures; And their Race,
Spring from such false seed; That the sonnes stolne face;
Shall nought be like the sires; The sire, no more,
Seene in his Issue. No friend as before
Shall like his friend be: Nor no Brother, rest
Kinde, like his Brother: No Guest, like a Guest
Of former times; No Childe, vse like a Childe,
His aged Parents;
But with manners wilde,
Reuile, and shame them; Their Impietie,
Shall neuer feare, that Gods all-seeing eye,
Is fixt vpon them; But shall quite despise,
Repaiment of their educations prise;
Beare their law, in their hands; And when they get,
Their fathers free-giuen goods; Account them debt.
Citie shall Citie ransack; Not a Grace,
To any pious Man shall shew her face;
Nor to a iust, or good Man. All, much more,
Shall grace a Beastly, and iniurious Bore;
No Right shall seise on any hand of theirs;
Nor any shame make blush, their black affaires;
The worse shall worse the better, with bad words;
And sweare him out, of all his Right affords.
Ill-lung’d; Ill-liuerd, Ill-complexion’d Spight,
Shall consort all the Miserable plight,
Of Men then liuing. Iustice then, and Shame,
Clad in pure white (as if they neuer came,
In touch of those societies) shall flie,
Vp to the Gods Immortall familie,
From broad-way’d Earth: And leave graue griefs to Men;
That (desp’rate of Amends) must beare all Then.

That none can be counted happy before death is attributed to Ovid, here in the 1717 translation of Garth, Dryden, et al.:

Here Cadmus reign’d; and now one would have guess’d
The royal founder in his exile blest:
Long did he live within his new abodes,
Ally’d by marriage to the deathless Gods;
And, in a fruitful wife’s embraces old,
A long increase of children’s children told:
But no frail man, however great or high,
Can be concluded blest before he die.

Actaeon was the first of all his race,
Who griev’d his grandsire in his borrow’d face;
Condemn’d by stern Diana to bemoan
The branching horns, and visage not his own;
To shun his once lov’d dogs, to bound away,
And from their huntsman to become their prey,
And yet consider why the change was wrought,
You’ll find it his misfortune, not his fault;
Or, if a fault, it was the fault of chance:
For how can guilt proceed from ignorance?

The earlier, 1567 Golding translation may be more literal:

Now Thebes stoode in good estate, now Cadmus might thou say
That when thy father banisht thée it was a luckie day.
To ioyne aliance both with Mars and Venus was thy chaunce,
Whose daughter thou hadst tane to wife, who did thée much aduaunce,
Not only through hir high renowne, but through a noble race
Of sonnes and daughters that she bare: whose children in like case
It was thy fortune for to sée all men and women growne.
But ay the ende of euery thing must marked be and knowne.
For none the name of blessednesse deserueth for to haue
Onlesse the tenor of his life last blessed to his graue.

Among so many prosprous happes that flowde with good successe,
Thine eldest Nephew was a cause of care and sore distresse.
Whose head was armde with palmed hornes, whose own hoūds in y wood
Did pull their master to the ground and fill them with his bloud.
But if you sift the matter well, ye shall not finde desart
But cruell fortune to haue bene the cause of this his smart.

Finally, Herodotus has the story of Croesus and Solon on the happy life, in 1.30 and 1.32:

Croesus: My Athenian guest, we have heard a lot about you because of your wisdom and of your wanderings, how as one who loves learning you have traveled much of the world for the sake of seeing it, so now I desire to ask you who is the most fortunate man (ὀλβιώτατος) you have seen.

Solon: … Croesus, you ask me about human affairs, and I know that the divine is entirely grudging and troublesome to us. [2] In a long span of time it is possible to see many things that you do not want to, and to suffer them, too … The rich man is more capable of fulfilling his appetites and of bearing a great disaster that falls upon him, and it is in these ways that he surpasses the other. The lucky man (εὐτυχης) is not so able to support disaster or appetite as is the rich man, but his luck keeps these things away from him, and he is free from deformity and disease, has no experience of evils, and has fine children and good looks. [7] If besides all this he ends his life well, then he is the one whom you seek, the one worthy to be called fortunate. But refrain from calling him fortunate before he dies; call him lucky. [8] It is impossible for one who is only human to obtain all these things at the same time, just as no land is self-sufficient in what it produces. Each country has one thing but lacks another; whichever has the most is the best. Just so no human being is self-sufficient; each person has one thing but lacks another. [9] Whoever passes through life with the most and then dies agreeably is the one who, in my opinion, O King, deserves to bear this name. It is necessary to see how the end of every affair turns out, for the god promises fortune to many people and then utterly ruins them.


En sachant la passion dominante de chacun, on est sûr de lui plaire, et néanmoins chacun a ses fantaisies contraires à son propre bien dans l’idée même qu’il a du bien, et c’est une bizarrerie qui met hors de gamme.


Nous ne nous contentons pas de la vie que nous avons en nous et en notre propre être : nous voulons vivre dans l’idée des autres d’une vie imaginaire et nous nous efforçons pour cela de paraître. Nous travaillons incessamment à embellir et conserver notre être imaginaire et négligeons le véritable. Et si nous avons ou la tranquillité ou la générosité et la fidélité, nous nous empressons de le faire savoir afin d’attacher ces vertus‑là à notre autre être, et les détacherions plutôt de nous pour les joindre à l’autre. Nous serions de bon cœur poltrons pour en acquérir la réputation d’être vaillants. Grande marque du néant de notre propre être de n’être pas satisfait de l’un sans l’autre, et d’échanger souvent l’un pour l’autre. Car qui ne mourrait pour conserver son honneur, celui‑là serait infâme.

Does Pascal himself do this? Is one’s honor a part of our imaginary life in the idea of others? Recall from the last reading, 643–652–778–68,

On n’apprend point aux hommes à être honnêtes hommes et on leur apprend tout le reste. Et ils ne se piquent jamais tant de savoir rien du reste comme d’être honnêtes hommes. Ils ne se piquent de savoir que la seule chose qu’ils n’apprennent point.

Fragment n° 4 / 10


Joh., 8.

Multi crediderunt in eum.

Dicebat ergo Jesus : Si manseritis … vere mei discipuli eritis… et veritas liberabit vos.

Responderunt : Semen Abrahae sumus et nemini servivimus unquam.


Il y a bien de la différence entre les disciples et les vrais disciples. On les reconnaît en leur disant que la vérité les rendra libres. Car s’ils répondent qu’ils sont libres et qu’il est en eux de sortir de l’esclavage du diable, ils sont bien disciples, mais non pas vrais disciples.

In the last reading, 614–624–733–862, Toutes choses doublées et les mêmes noms demeurant (quoted at greater length for 656–665–809–230 below). This is a theme of John 8, given in its entirety below. Or say the theme is being true, as a

  • prosecutor (of the woman taken in adultery),
  • father (of Jesus),
  • dying person (in one’s sins),
  • disciple of Jesus,
  • servant (of sin),
  • child of Abraham,
  • child of God.

In (653)–(662)–806–147 above was the distinction between one’s true life and imaginary life. Is life on earth, in our crude terms, the imaginary life, as in the cave of the Allegory? In honor from the last reading, 643–652–778–68, one may distinguish the truth and the image. Though he found Plato useful, C. S. Lewis did not like the suggestion that there was a “true” gentleman or, more importantly, a true Christian whom we could distinguish. Nonetheless, Pascal will speak of the vrais enfants of Christianity in the next fragment, 655–664–808–245: they must believe, not through reason alone, but inspiration.

Jesus went unto the mount of Olives.
2 And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them.
3 And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst,
4 They say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act.
5 Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou?
6 This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not.
7 So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her.
8 And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground.
9 And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst.
10 When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee?
11 She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more.
12 ¶ Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.
13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true.
14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go.
15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man.
16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.
17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true.
18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.
19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also.
20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come.
21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come.
22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come.
23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world.
24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.
25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning.
26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him.
27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things.
29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him.
30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.
31 Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed;
32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
33They answered him, We be Abraham’s seed, and were never in bondage to any man: how sayest thou, Ye shall be made free?
34 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin.
35 And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever.
36 If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.
37 I know that ye are Abraham’s seed; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you.
38 I speak that which I have seen with my Father: and ye do that which ye have seen with your father.
39 They answered and said unto him, Abraham is our father. Jesus saith unto them, If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham.
40 But now ye seek to kill me, a man that hath told you the truth, which I have heard of God: this did not Abraham.
41 Ye do the deeds of your father. Then said they to him, We be not born of fornication; we have one Father, even God.
42 Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I proceeded forth and came from God; neither came I of myself, but he sent me.
43 Why do ye not understand my speech? even because ye cannot hear my word.
44 Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.
45 And because I tell you the truth, ye believe me not.
46 Which of you convinceth me of sin? And if I say the truth, why do ye not believe me?
47 He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.
48 Then answered the Jews, and said unto him, Say we not well that thou art a Samaritan, and hast a devil?
49 Jesus answered, I have not a devil; but I honour my Father, and ye do dishonour me.
50 And I seek not mine own glory: there is one that seeketh and judgeth.
51 Verily, verily, I say unto you, If a man keep my saying, he shall never see death.
52 Then said the Jews unto him, Now we know that thou hast a devil. Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and thou sayest, If a man keep my saying, he shall never taste of death.
53 Art thou greater than our father Abraham, which is dead? and the prophets are dead: whom makest thou thyself?
54 Jesus answered, If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say, that he is your God:
55 Yet ye have not known him; but I know him: and if I should say, I know him not, I shall be a liar like unto you: but I know him, and keep his saying.
56 Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad.
57 Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham?
58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
59 Then took they up stones to cast at him: but Jesus hid himself, and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

Fragment n° 5 / 10


Il y a trois moyens de croire : la raison, la coutume, l’inspiration la révélation. La religion chrétienne, qui seule a la raison, n’admet point pour ses vrais enfants ceux qui croient sans inspiration. Ce n’est pas qu’elle exclue la raison et la coutume, au contraire ; mais il faut

  • ouvrir son esprit aux preuves,
  • s’y confirmer par la coutume ; mais
  • s’offrir par les humiliations aux inspirations, qui seules peuvent faire le vrai et salutaire effet : Ne evacuetur crux Christi.

The Latin phrase was Ne evacuata sit crux in the sixth reading, 427–842–588. The source is 1 Corinthians 1:

17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

17 non enim misit me Christus baptizare sed evangelizare non in sapientia verbi ut non evacuetur crux Christi

17 οὐ γὰρ ἀπέστειλέν με Χριστὸς βαπτίζειν ἀλλὰ εὐαγγελίζεσθαι, οὐκ ἐν σοφίᾳ λόγου, ἵνα μὴ κενωθῇ ὁ σταυρὸς τοῦ χριστοῦ.

Fragment n° 6 / 10


Incompréhensible que Dieu soit et incompréhensible qu’il ne soit pas ;

  • que l’âme soit avec le corps, que nous n’ayons point d’âme ;
  • que le monde soit créé, qu’il ne le soit pas, etc. ;
  • que le péché originel soit et qu’il ne soit pas.

Is not either member of each pair also comprehensible? As for 654–663–807–519 above, we may recall the last reading, 614–624–733–862,

L’Église a toujours été combattue par des erreurs contraires … La source en est l’union des deux natures en Jésus-Christ. Et aussi les deux mondes … Toutes choses doublées et les mêmes noms demeurant. … Et enfin les deux hommes qui sont dans les justes … Il y a donc un grand nombre de vérités, et de foi et de morale, qui semblent répugnantes et qui subsistent toutes dans un ordre admirable. La source de toutes les hérésies est l’exclusion de quelques‑unes de ces vérités.

Heresy would seem to arise from treating one proposition as uniquely comprehensible, without recognizing that its contradictory is also comprehensible. Recall though that Pascal’s examples were

  1. Jesus Christ is god and man
  2. The sacramental bread is his body and symbol
  3. Indulgences, perhaps regarding their efficacity, whether in communi or in particulari as in (645)–(654)–791–777).

Fragment n° 7 / 10


Quid fiet hominibus qui minima contemnunt majora non credunt ?

Before electronic texts and thus the possibility of searching them, Sellier figured out the source: Augustine, Epistola 137 ad Volusianum, that is, Letter 137 (A.D. 412), to Volusianus, ¶ 14 (which is in § 4):

14. For I think that such signs of divine power are demanded by these objectors as were not suitable for Him to do when wearing the nature of men. The Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and by Him all things were made. John 1:1 Now, when the Word became flesh, was it necessary for Him to create another world, that we might believe Him to be the person by whom the world was made? But within this world it would have been impossible to make another greater than itself, or equal to it. If, however, He were to make a world inferior to that which now exists, this, too, would be considered too small a work to prove His deity. Wherefore, since it was not necessary that He should make a new world, He made new things in the world. For that a man should be born of a virgin, and raised from the dead to eternal life, and exalted above the heavens, is perchance a work involving a greater exertion of power than the creating of a world. Here, probably, objectors may answer that they do not believe that these things took place. What, then, can be done for men who despise smaller evidences as inadequate, and reject greater evidences as incredible? That life has been restored to the dead is believed, because it has been accomplished by others, and is too small a work to prove him who performs it to be God: that a true body was created in a virgin, and being raised from death to eternal life, was taken up to heaven, is not believed, because no one else has done this, and it is what God alone could do. On this principle every man is to accept with equanimity whatever he thinks easy for himself not indeed to do, but to conceive, and is to reject as false and fictitious whatever goes beyond that limit. I beseech you, do not be like these men.

Augustine on miracles was considered also in the third reading:

  • 200–169–812 Je ne serais pas chrétien sans les miracles, dit saint Augustin.
  • 205–174–270 Saint Augustin. La raison ne se soumettrait jamais si elle ne jugeait qu’il y a des occasions où elle se doit soumettre. ¶ Il est donc juste qu’elle se soumette quand elle juge qu’elle se doit soumettre.
  • 230–199–72, Disproportion de l’homme … modus quo corporibus adhærent spiritus comprehendi ab homine non potest, et hoc tamen homo est “The manner in which spirits are united to bodies cannot be understood by men, yet such is man.”

Fragment n° 8 / 10


Les deux plus anciens livres du monde sont Moïse et Job, l’un juif l’autre païen, qui tous deux regardent Jésus-Christ comme leur centre commun et leur objet :

  • Moïse en rapportant les promesses de Dieu à Abraham, Jacob, etc., et ses prophéties ; et
  • Job : Quis mihi det ut, etc. Scio enim quod Redemptor meus vivit, etc.

Job 19:

20 My bone cleaveth to my skin and to my flesh, and I am escaped with the skin of my teeth.
21 Have pity upon me, have pity upon me, O ye my friends; for the hand of God hath touched me.
22 Why do ye persecute me as God, and are not satisfied with my flesh?
23 Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book!
24 That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever!
25 For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth:


Le style de l’Évangile est admirable en tant de manières, et entre autres en ne mettant jamais aucune invective contre les bourreaux et ennemis de Jésus-Christ. Car il n’y en a aucune des historiens contre Judas, Pilate, ni aucun des Juifs.


Si cette modestie des historiens évangéliques avait été affectée aussi bien que tant d’autres traits d’un si beau caractère, et qu’ils ne l’eussent affecté que pour le faire remarquer, s’ils n’avaient osé le remarquer eux-mêmes, ils n’auraient pas manqué de se procurer des amis qui eussent fait ces remarques à leur avantage. Mais comme ils ont agi de la sorte sans affectation et par un mouvement tout désintéressé, ils ne l’ont fait remarquer à personne, et je crois que plusieurs de ces choses n’ont point été remarquées jusqu’ici ; et c’est ce qui témoigne la froideur avec laquelle la chose a été faite.


Jamais on ne fait le mal si pleinement et si gaiement que quand on le fait par conscience.


Comme on se gâte l’esprit, on se gâte aussi le sentiment.


  • On se forme l’esprit et le sentiment par les conversations,
  • on se gâte l’esprit et le sentiment par les conversations.

Ainsi les bonnes ou les mauvaises le forment ou le gâtent.

  • Il importe donc de tout de le bien savoir choisir pour se le former et ne le point gâter. Et
  • on ne peut faire ce choix si on ne l’a déjà formé et point gâté.

Ainsi cela fait un cercle d’où sont bienheureux ceux qui sortent.

Pascal addresses the paradox of learning taken up by Plato in the Meno and by Pirsig (if only accidentally) in Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. For Pirsig, eliminating grades from the university would mean that the students studied what they had already learned (as in the school of hard knocks) that they wanted to learn.

Fragment n° 9 / 10


Le monde ordinaire a le pouvoir de ne pas songer à ce qu’il ne veut pas songer. Ne pensez point aux passages du Messie, disait le Juif à son fils. Ainsi font les nôtres souvent. Ainsi se conservent les fausses religions et la vraie même à l’égard de beaucoup de gens.

Mais il y en a qui n’ont pas le pouvoir de s’empêcher ainsi de songer et qui songent d’autant plus qu’on leur défend. Ceux‑là se défont des fausses religions et de la vraie même, s’ils ne trouvent des discours solides.

As I understand Alberto Frigo and Michel Le Guern, “Sur quelques sources inédites de Pascal”, XVIIe siècle, 269, 2015/4, p. 735-754, Pascal’s ultimate source is the Babylonian Talmud, Berakhot 28b:

6 On a similar note, the Gemara recounts related stories with different approaches. The Sages taught: When Rabbi Eliezer fell ill, his students entered to visit him. They said to him: Teach us paths of life, guidelines by which to live, and we will thereby merit the life of the World-to-Come.

7 He said to them: Be vigilant in the honor of your counterparts, and prevent your children from logic when studying verses that tend toward heresy (ge’onim), and place your children, while they are still young, between the knees of Torah scholars, and when you pray, know before Whom you stand. For doing that, you will merit the life of the World-to-Come.

The word translated as “logic” is apparently higgaion, used a few times in the Bible. On Berakhot 28b.7 there is a comment of Abraham Cohen, citing Jastrow:

i.e. parading a superficial knowledge of the Bible by verbal memorising. Goldschmidt suggests that the word higgayon (lit. meditation), which in medieval Hebrew is used in the sense of “logic,” may here mean “philosophical speculation.” It has also been explained as referring to the reading of apocryphal literature as against the canonical Scriptures.

According to Frigo and Le Guern,

Tout au cours du Moyen Âge, elle avait fait l’objet d’un long débat qui portait essentiellement sur la signification du terme « higgayon », ce mot pouvant designer autant la méditation et la parole qui l’exprime que les propos vains et les conversations frivoles. Le passage du Talmud d’où la maxime est tirée se prête en effet à des interprétations multiples … De cette interdiction, les adversaires de la philosophie, et notamment ceux de Maimonide, tirèrent un argument pour condamner l’étude de la logique aristotélicienne et son application aux vérités de la foi. Mais le propos du Rabbi Eliezer fut aussi au centre d’un long affrontement entre des courants opposés de la tradition rabbinique à propos du rôle et de l’espace à accorder à l’étude de la Bible et à la tradition orale. De ces multiples vicissitudes de la maxime du Talmud, Pascal n’eut, bien entendu, aucun soupçon …

Though Pascal did not know the disputes, he may have read in Johannes Buxtorf the formula,

Moniti estote honorem praebere condiscipulis vestris, et avertite liberos vestros a studio biblico [soyez attentif à honorer vos collègues, détournez vos fils de l’étude de la Bible].


  • J’aurais bientôt quitté les plaisirs, disent‑ils, si j’avais la foi. Et
  • moi je vous dis : Vous auriez bientôt la foi si vous aviez quitté les plaisirs.

Or c’est à vous à commencer.

  • Si je pouvais, je vous donnerais la foi.
  • Je ne puis le faire, ni partant éprouver la vérité de ce que vous dites, mais vous pouvez bien quitter les plaisirs et éprouver si ce que je dis est vrai.


On a beau dire : Il faut avouer que la religion chrétienne a quelque chose d’étonnant, c’est parce que vous y êtes né, dira‑t‑on. Tant s’en faut, je me roidis contre par cette raison‑là même, de peur que cette prévention ne me suborne, mais quoique j’y sois né, je ne laisse pas de le trouver ainsi.

Roidir is the archaic spelling of raidir from the adjective raide, Latin rǐgǐdus.

Fragment n° 10 / 10


La victoire sur la mort.

Que sert à l’homme de gagner tout le monde s’il perd son âme ?

Qui veut garder son âme la perdra.

1 Corinthians 15:

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.

Hosea 13:

9 O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.
10 I will be thy king: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?
11 I gave thee a king in mine anger, and took him away in my wrath.
12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.
13 The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.
14 I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes.

Luke 9:

23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.
24 For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it.
25 For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?
26 For whosoever shall be ashamed of me and of my words, of him shall the Son of man be ashamed, when he shall come in his own glory, and in his Father’s, and of the holy angels.
27 But I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the kingdom of God.

Je ne suis pas venu détruire la [Loi] mais l’accomplir.

Les agneaux n’ôtaient point les péchés du monde mais je suis l’agneau qui ôte les péchés.

Moïse ne vous a point donné le pain du ciel.

Moïse ne vous a point tirés de captivité et ne vous a pas rendus véritablement libres.

Pascal had mort in place of Loi. Matthew 5:

17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.

John 1:

29 The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.
30 This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me.
31 And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water.
32 And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him.
33 And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost.
34 And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God.

See also the fourth reading on pain du ciel. John 6:

28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God?
29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.
30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work?
31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat.
32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.
33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.
34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread.
35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.
36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.
37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.
38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
39 And this is the Father’s will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day.
40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.
41 The Jews then murmured at him, because he said, I am the bread which came down from heaven.


Les prophètes mêlés des choses particulières et de celles du Messie afin que les prophéties du Messie ne fussent pas sans preuve et que les prophéties particulières ne fussent pas sans fruit.


Il y a deux manières de persuader les vérités de notre religion :

  • l’une par la force de la raison,
  • l’autre par l’autorité de celui qui parle.

On ne se sert point de la dernière mais de la première.

  • On ne dit point : Il faut croire cela, car l’Écriture qui le dit est divine, mais
  • on dit qu’il le faut croire par telle et telle raison, qui sont de faibles arguments, la raison étant flexible à tout.

Perhaps authority corresponds to the custom of 655–664–808–245 above (and of 661–671–821–252 just below), but Pascal now leaves out inspiration.

Pensées diverses VIII (SÉRIE XXX)

Fragment n° 1 / 6


Car il ne faut pas se méconnaître, nous sommes automate autant qu’esprit. Et de là vient que l’instrument par lequel la persuasion se fait n’est pas la seule démonstration. Combien y a-t-il peu de choses démontrées ?

  • Les preuves ne convainquent que l’esprit,
  • la coutume fait nos preuves les plus fortes et les plus crues.

Elle incline l’automate qui entraîne l’esprit sans qu’il y pense. Qui a démontré qu’il sera demain jour et que nous mourrons, et qu’y a-t-il de plus cru ? C’est donc la coutume qui nous en persuade. C’est elle qui fait tant de chrétiens, c’est elle qui fait les Turcs, les païens, les métiers, les soldats, etc. Il y a la foi reçue dans le baptême de plus aux chrétiens qu’aux païens. Enfin il faut avoir recours à elle quand une fois l’esprit a vu où est la vérité afin de nous abreuver et nous teindre de cette créance qui nous échappe à toute heure, car d’en avoir toujours les preuves présentes c’est trop d’affaire. Il faut acquérir une créance plus facile qui est celle de l’habitude qui sans violence, sans art, sans argument nous fait croire les choses et incline toutes nos puissances à cette croyance, en sorte que notre âme y tombe naturellement. Quand on ne croit que par la force de la conviction et que l’automate est incliné à croire le contraire ce n’est pas assez. Il faut donc faire croire nos deux pièces,

  • l’esprit par les raisons qu’il suffit d’avoir vues une fois en sa vie et
  • l’automate par la coutume, et en ne lui permettant pas de s’incliner au contraire.

« Inclina cor meum deus. »

  • La raison agit avec lenteur et avec tant de vues sur tant de principes, lesquels il faut qu’ils soient toujours présents, qu’à toute heure elle s’assoupit ou s’égare manque d’avoir tous ses principes présents.
  • Le sentiment n’agit pas ainsi; il agit en un instant et toujours est prêt à agir.

Il faut donc mettre notre foi dans le sentiment, autrement elle sera toujours vacillante.

The Latin is from section ה, verse 36, of Psalm 119, from which Pascal might also have quoted, from verse 34, Da mihi intellectum:

ה he

33 Teach me, O Lord, the way of thy statutes; and I shall keep it unto the end.
34 Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart.
35 Make me to go in the path of thy commandments; for therein do I delight.
36 Incline my heart unto thy testimonies, and not to covetousness.
37 Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity; and quicken thou me in thy way.
38 Stablish thy word unto thy servant, who is devoted to thy fear.
39 Turn away my reproach which I fear: for thy judgments are good.
40 Behold, I have longed after thy precepts: quicken me in thy righteousness.

I note that all science, in the sense of organized knowledge, depends on history, in the sense of retaining what one has already learned. I take this idea from Collingwood, Speculum Mentis (1924):

When the Renaissance scientists reflected on their own work and saw into its presuppositions, they realized what the ancients never realized, that the hypotheses or abstractions of science rested on the knowledge of fact. In their discussions of scientific method they made this very clear ; but the profoundest statement of it, and therefore the most misunderstood, was that of Descartes. All science, said Descartes, rests upon the one indubitable certainty that I think and that therefore I exist. Now the thought and existence of which Descartes spoke were not abstractions – anything thinking anything, or anything somehow getting itself thought about – as those wiseacres believe who offer to emend his formula to cogitatur ergo est, or cogitare ergo esse or the like. Descartes meant what he said; and what he said was that the concrete historical fact, the fact of my actual present awareness, was the root of science. He was only going one step beyond Bacon, for whom the root of science was natural fact: Descartes, more profoundly, saw that before natural fact can be of any use to the scientist he must observe it, and that the fact of his observing it is the fact that really matters. Science presupposes history and can never go behind history: that is the discovery of which Descartes’ formula is the deepest and most fruitful expression.

This discovery implicitly resolves science into history. I say implicitly, because at first it is regarded only as a revolution within science itself …

Fragment n° 2 / 6

Cette suite de notes, pour la plupart barrées verticalement, a certainement servi à composer et à étoffer le fragment Preuves par discours II (Laf. 427, Sel. 681 [et Bru. 194]). Le grand nombre de mots-clés témoigne cependant que malgré la brièveté des notes, on y voit se concentrer les thèmes majeurs du protreptique pascalien.

662–403–432–194 bis

On doit avoir pitié des uns et des autres, mais on doit avoir pour les uns une pitié qui naît de tendresse, et pour les autres une pitié qui naît de mépris.


Il faut bien être dans la religion qu’ils méprisent pour ne les pas mépriser.


Cela n’est point du bon air.


Cela montre qu’il n’y a rien à leur dire, non par mépris mais parce qu’ils n’ont pas le sens commun. Il faut que Dieu les touche.


Les gens de cette sorte sont académistes, écoliers, et c’est le plus méchant caractère d’hommes que je connaisse.


Vous me convertirez.


Je ne prends point cela par bigoterie, mais par la manière dont le cœur de l’homme est fait, non par un zèle de dévotion et de détachement, mais par un principe purement humain et par un mouvement d’intérêt et d’amour‑propre.


Il est sans doute qu’il n’y a point de bien sans la connaissance de Dieu,

  • qu’à mesure qu’on en approche on est heureux et que le dernier bonheur est de le connaître avec certitude,
  • qu’à mesure qu’on s’en éloigne on est malheureux et que le dernier malheur serait la certitude du contraire.


C’est donc un malheur que de douter, mais c’est un devoir indispensable de chercher dans le doute, et ainsi celui qui doute et qui ne cherche pas est tout ensemble malheureux et injuste ; que s’il est avec cela gai et présomptueux, je n’ai point de terme pour qualifier une si extravagante créature.


Cependant il est certain que l’homme est si dénaturé
qu’il y a dans son cœur une semence de joie en cela.


Est‑ce une chose à dire avec joie ?
C’est une chose qu’on doit donc dire tristement.


Le beau sujet de se réjouir et de se vanter la tête levée en cette sorte … : Donc réjouissons-nous, vivons sans crainte et sans inquiétude, et attendons la mort puisque cela est incertain, et nous verrons alors ce qu’il arrivera de nous. Je n’en vois pas la conséquence.


N’est‑ce pas assez qu’il se fasse des miracles en un lieu
et que la providence paraisse sur un peuple ?


Le bon air va à n’avoir point de complaisance,
et la bonne piété à avoir complaisance pour les autres.

English makes a spelling distinction, but by Fowler’s account, the two senses are confused:

He is complacent who is pleased with himself or his state, or with other persons or things as they affect him; the word is loosely synonymous with contented. He is complaisant who is anxious to please by compliance, service, indulgence, or flattery; the word is loosely synonymous with obliging.


Est‑ce courage à un homme mourant d’aller, dans la faiblesse et dans l’agonie, affronter un Dieu tout-puissant et éternel ?


Que je serais heureux si j’étais en cet état, qu’on eût pitié de ma sottise et qu’on eût la bonté de m’en tirer malgré moi !


N’en être pas fâché et ne pas aimer, cela accuse tant de faiblesse d’esprit et tant de malice dans la volonté.


Quel sujet de joie de ne plus attendre que des misères sans ressource ! Quelle consolation dans le désespoir de tout consolateur !


Mais ceux‑là mêmes qui semblent les plus opposés à la gloire de la religion, nous en ferons le premier argument qu’il y a quelque chose de surnaturel. [Ils] n’y seront pas inutiles pour les autres. Car un aveuglement de cette sorte n’est pas une chose naturelle. Et si leur folie les rend si contraires à leur propre bien, elle servira à en garantir les autres par l’horreur d’un exemple si déplorable et d’une folie si digne de compassion.

Est‑ce qu’ils sont si fermes qu’ils soient insensibles à tout ce qui les touche ?
Éprouvons‑les dans la perte des biens ou de l’honneur. Quoi ! c’est un enchantement.

Fragment n° 3 / 6


Histoire de la Chine.

Je ne crois que les histoires dont les témoins se feraient égorger.

Lequel est le plus croyable des deux, Moïse ou la Chine ?

Il n’est pas question de voir cela en gros. Je vous dis qu’il y a de quoi aveugler et de quoi éclairer.

Par ce mot seul je ruine tous vos raisonnements : Mais la Chine obscurcit, dites‑vous ; et je réponds : La Chine obscurcit mais il y a clarté à trouver. Cherchez‑la.

Ainsi tout ce que vous dites fait à un des desseins et rien contre l’autre. Ainsi cela sert et ne nuit pas.

Il faut donc voir cela en détail. Il faut mettre papiers sur table.

La chronologie officielle date le Déluge vers 2348 avant le Christ, mais l’empereur Fo-Hi est censé avoir régné dès 2952 : il fallait aux chronologistes chrétiens placer cet empereur après le Déluge, ou admettre la fausseté de la chronologie biblique selon la Vulgate.

Fragment n° 4 / 6


C’est un héritier qui trouve les titres de sa maison. Dira‑t‑il : Peut‑être qu’ils sont faux ? et négligera-t‑il de les examiner ?

Fragment n° 5 / 6


  • La Loi obligeait à ce qu’elle ne donnait pas,
  • la grâce donne ce à quoi elle oblige.

Trotter, Ariew:

The law imposed what it did not give. Grace gives what it imposes.

The law required people to have what it did not give; grace gives what it requires people to have.

Pace Ariew, why should the sense be of having rather than doing?

Though both loi and grâce are feminine, presumably the second elle refers to the latter, since otherwise Pascal might have written, La Loi obligeait à ce que la grâce donne. But if grace does oblige or impose or require anything, it may do so in the sense of the last reading, 638–648–774–497, where however the topic is miséricorde, and le propre de la miséricorde est de combattre la paresse en invitant aux bonnes œuvres.

Fragment n° 6 / 6


[Semble réfuter.]

Humilibus dat gratiam ; an ideo non dedit humilitatem [il ne leur a donc pas donné l’humilité] ?

Sui eum non receperunt ; quotquot autem non receperunt, an non erant sui [mais tous ceux qui ne l’ont pas reçu n’étaient-ils pas des siens] ?

The words transcribed as Semble réfuter are unclear, even for Pascal; but the objections to scripture do seem to refute it, or at least to demand a response.

At least that is so of the first objection. The second is not clear. It is in response to John 1:

6 ¶ There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
7 The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
8 He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
9 That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
10 He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not.
11 He came unto his own, and his own received him not.
12 But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name:
13 Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

The original for verse 11 is εἰς τὰ ἴδια ἦλθεν, καὶ οἱ ἴδιοι αὐτὸν οὐ παρέλαβον, so KJV is literal, except for not reflecting the change in gender from neuter to masculine in the passage from τὰ ἴδια to οἱ ἴδιοι. Knox and the RSV clarify:

  • “He came to what was his own, and they who were his own gave him no welcome.”
  • “He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.”

The own people of Jesus are presumably the Jews. One might then ask how they could be considered his own, if they did not receive him; or whether the Gentiles who also did not receive him were not his own, even though “the world was made by him.”

As for the first objection, indeed, what is praiseworthy about raising up those whom you made low in the first place? Pascal’s quotation is found in James 4:6 and 1 Peter 5:5, at either of which (in the GNT of Aland et al.) is a reference to the other and to Proverbs 3:34 and Matthew 23:12. At the latter are references to Job 22:29, Proverbs 29:23, Ezekiel 21:26, and Luke 14:11 and 18:14. Below are the verses, with some context, in Bible order. One is told to make oneself humble. Then it might be asked whether one does this of one’s own free will.

The opening comments of Eliphaz in Job 22 would seem echoed in the argument of vegetarian Muslims that God asks sacrifices are for our sake. One may then look at the detailed offerings demanded in Exodus, alluded to in 667–676–826–673 below.

THEN Eliphaz the Temanite answered and said,
2 Can a man be profitable unto God, as he that is wise may be profitable unto himself?
3 Is it any pleasure to the Almighty, that thou art righteous? or is it gain to him, that thou makest thy ways perfect?
4 Will he reprove thee for fear of thee? will he enter with thee into judgment?
5 Is not thy wickedness great? and thine iniquities infinite?

21 Acquaint now thyself with him, and be at peace: thereby good shall come unto thee.
22 Receive, I pray thee, the law from his mouth, and lay up his words in thine heart.
23 If thou return to the Almighty, thou shalt be built up, thou shalt put away iniquity far from thy tabernacles.

29 When men are cast down, then thou shalt say, There is lifting up; and he shall save the humble person.
30 He shall deliver the island of the innocent: and it is delivered by the pureness of thine hands.

Proverbs 3:

33 ¶ The curse of the Lord is in the house of the wicked: but he blesseth the habitation of the just.
34 Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
35 The wise shall inherit glory: but shame shall be the promotion of fools.

Proverbs 29:

23 A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

Ezekiel 21

25 ¶ And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is come, when iniquity shall have an end,
26 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Remove the diadem, and take off the crown: this shall not be the same: exalt him that is low, and abase him that is high.
27 I will overturn, overturn, overturn, it: and it shall be no more, until he come whose right it is; and I will give it him.

Matthew 23:

THEN spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,
2 Saying, The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:
3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.
4 For they bind heavy burdens and grievous to be borne, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.
5 But all their works they do for to be seen of men: they make broad their phylacteries, and enlarge the borders of their garments,
6 And love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues,
7 And greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi, Rabbi.
8 But be not ye called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all ye are brethren.
9 And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven.
10 Neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.
11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
12 And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.

Luke 14:

7 ¶ And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,
8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;
9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.
10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

Luke 18:

9 And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:
10 Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican.
11 The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.
12 I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.
13 And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.
14 I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.

1 Peter 5:

THE elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away.
5 Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.
6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

James 4:

FROM whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?
2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
5 Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy?
6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

Pensées diverses IX (SÉRIE XXXI)

Fragment n° 1 / 1


Fac secundum exemplar quod tibi ostensum est in monte.

La religion des Juifs a donc été formée sur la ressemblance de la vérité du Messie, et la vérité du Messie a été reconnue par la religion des Juifs qui en était la figure.

Dans les Juifs la vérité n’était que figurée :

  • dans le ciel elle est découverte,
  • dans l’Église elle est couverte et reconnue par le rapport à la figure.


La figure a été faite sur la vérité, et la vérité a été reconnue sur la figure.

In the clouds, Moses saw the truth, which he had the Jews copy on earth, so that when truth itself came to earth, it could be recognized. Here are Exodus 24 and 25:

12 And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them.
13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
14 And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.
15 And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount.
16 And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud.
17 And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.
18 And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

AND the Lord spake unto Moses, saying,
2 Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.
3 And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver, and brass,
4 And blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen, and goats’ hair,
5 And rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers’ skins, and shittim wood,
6 Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense,
7 Onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate.
8 And let them make me a sanctuary; that I may dwell among them.
9 According to all that I shew thee, after the pattern of the tabernacle, and the pattern of all the instruments thereof, even so shall ye make it.
10 ¶ And they shall make an ark of shittim wood: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.

23 ¶ Thou shalt also make a table of shittim wood: two cubits shall be the length thereof, and a cubit the breadth thereof, and a cubit and a half the height thereof.

31 ¶ And thou shalt make a candlestick of pure gold: of beaten work shall the candlestick be made: his shaft, and his branches, his bowls, his knops, and his flowers, shall be of the same.

39 Of a talent of pure gold shall he make it, with all these vessels.
40 And look that thou make them after their pattern, which was shewed thee in the mount.


Saint Paul dit lui‑même que des gens défendront les mariages, et lui‑même en parle aux Corinthiens d’une manière qui est une ratière. Car si un prophète avait dit l’un et que saint Paul eût dit ensuite l’autre, on l’eût accusé.

A note of Descotes and Proust:

Ratière : petite machine ou piège où on attrape les rats en vie par le moyen d’une trappe qui se ferme, quand il veut manger un morceau de lard qui la soutient. Furetière n’indique aucun sens figuré pour ce mot.

The first sentence is a precise quotation of Furetière’s dictionary.


Les cordes Ce qui attachent le respect des uns envers les autres en général sont cordes de nécessité, car il faut qu’il y ait différents degrés, tous les hommes voulant dominer et tous ne le pouvant pas, mais quelques-uns le pouvant.

Figurons‑nous donc que nous les voyons commencer à se former. Il est sans doute qu’ils se battront jusqu’à ce que la plus forte partie opprime la plus faible, et qu’enfin il y ait un parti dominant. Mais quand cela est une fois déterminé alors les maîtres, qui ne veulent pas que la guerre continue, ordonnent que la force qui est entre leurs mains succédera comme il leur plaît : les uns le remettent à l’élection des peuples, les autres à la succession de naissance, etc.

Et c’est là où l’imagination commence à jouer son rôle. Jusque‑là la pure force l’a fait. Ici c’est la force qui se tient par l’imagination en un certain parti, en France des gentilshommes, en Suisse des roturiers, etc.

Or ces cordes qui attachent donc le respect à tel et à tel en particulier sont des cordes d’imagination.

Pascal’s cordes were inspired by Simon Stevin, “La Spartostatique, ou l’art ponderaire par cordages,” Œvres Mathematiques vol. 4. The image at the top of this page is from this page.

Imagination distinguishes us from the other animals and even from the other species of the genus Homo, as Yuval Noah Harari will argue in Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind (2011):

An Imagined Order

The food surpluses produced by peasants, coupled with new transportation technology, eventually enabled more and more people to cram together first into large villages, then into towns, and finally into cities, all of them joined together by new kingdoms and commercial networks.

Yet in order to take advantage of these new opportunities, food surpluses and improved transportation were not enough. The mere fact that one can feed a thousand people in the same town or a million people in the same kingdom does not guarantee that they can agree how to divide the land and water, how to settle disputes and conflicts, and how to act in times of drought or war. And if no agreement can be reached, strife spreads, even if the storehouses are bulging. It was not food shortages that caused most of history’s wars and revolutions. The French Revolution was spearheaded by affluent lawyers, not by famished peasants. The Roman Republic reached the height of its power in the first century BC, when treasure fleets from throughout the Mediterranean enriched the Romans beyond their ancestors’ wildest dreams. Yet it was at that moment of maximum affluence that the Roman political order collapsed into a series of deadly civil wars. Yugoslavia in 1991 had more than enough resources to feed all its inhabitants, and still disintegrated into a terrible bloodbath.

The problem at the root of such calamities is that humans evolved for millions of years in small bands of a few dozen individuals. The handful of millennia separating the Agricultural Revolution from the appearance of cities, kingdoms and empires was not enough time to allow an instinct for mass cooperation to evolve. Despite the lack of such biological instincts, during the foraging era, hundreds of strangers were able to cooperate thanks to their shared myths. However, this cooperation was loose and limited. Every Sapiens band continued to run its life independently and to provide for most of its own needs. An archaic sociologist living 20,000 years ago, who had no knowledge of events following the Agricultural Revolution, might well have concluded that mythology had a fairly limited scope. Stories about ancestral spirits and tribal totems were strong enough to enable 500 people to trade seashells, celebrate the odd festival, and join forces to wipe out a Neanderthal band, but no more than that. Mythology, the ancient sociologist would have thought, could not possibly enable millions of strangers to cooperate on a daily basis.

But that turned out to be wrong. Myths, it transpired, are stronger than anyone could have imagined. When the Agricultural Revolution opened opportunities for the creation of crowded cities and mighty empires, people invented stories about great gods, motherlands and joint stock companies to provide the needed social links. While human evolution was crawling at its usual snail’s pace, the human imagination was building astounding networks of mass cooperation, unlike any other ever seen on earth.


Ces grands efforts d’esprit où l’âme touche quelquefois sont choses où elle ne se tient pas. Elle y saute seulement, non comme sur le trône pour toujours mais pour un instant seulement.

Compare from 661–671–821–252 above,

La raison agit avec lenteur et avec tant de vues sur tant de principes, lesquels il faut qu’ils soient toujours présents, qu’à toute heure elle s’assoupit ou s’égare manque d’avoir tous ses principes présents.

Géométrie-Finesse I (SÉRIE XXI)

Fragment n° 1 / 1


Masquer la nature et la déguiser, plus de roi, de pape, d’évêque, mais auguste monarque, etc. Point de Paris, capitale du royaume.


Il y a des lieux où il faut appeler Paris, Paris, et d’autres où il la faut appeler capitale du royaume.


À mesure qu’on a plus d’esprit, on trouve qu’il y a plus d’hommes originaux. Les gens du commun ne trouvent point de différence entre les hommes.

A reflection of the ninth reading, 568–583–689–64, Ce n’est pas dans Montaigne mais dans moi que je trouve tout ce que j’y vois.


Diverses sortes de sens droit, les uns dans un certain ordre de choses et non dans les autres ordres où ils extravaguent.


Les uns tirent bien les conséquences de peu de principes, et c’est une droiture de sens.

Les autres tirent bien les conséquences des choses où il y a beaucoup de principes.

Par exemple, les uns comprennent bien les effets de l’eau, en quoi il y a peu de principes ; mais les conséquences en sont si fines qu’il n’y a qu’une extrême droiture d’esprit qui y puisse aller ; et ceux‑là ne seraient peut‑être pas pour cela grands géomètres parce que la géométrie comprend un grand nombre de principes, et qu’une nature d’esprit peut être telle qu’elle puisse bien pénétrer peu de principes jusqu’au fond, et qu’elle ne puisse pénétrer le moins du monde les choses où il y a beaucoup de principes.

Il y a donc deux sortes d’esprits :

  • l’une de pénétrer vivement et profondément les conséquences des principes, et c’est là l’esprit de justesse ;
  • l’autre, de comprendre un grand nombre de principes sans les confondre, et c’est là l’esprit de géométrie.
  • L’un est force et droiture d’esprit.
  • L’autre est amplitude d’esprit.

Or l’un peut bien être sans l’autre, l’esprit pouvant être fort et étroit, et pouvant être aussi ample et faible.

From the commentary:

Jean Laporte souligne à juste titre que la distinction entre esprit de géométrie et esprit de justesse dans le présent fragment, est très différente de celle que le fragment suivant effectue entre esprit de géométrie et esprit de finesse. ¶ Un premier point doit être nettement retenu. Aucun des esprits dont il est question dans le présent fragment et le suivant, esprit de géométrie, esprit de justesse et esprit de finesse, ne se confond avec le cœur, dont la notion est expliquée dans le fragment Grandeur 6 (Laf. 110, Sel. 142).

The reference is to our second reading, 142–110–282:

Nous connaissons la vérité non seulement par la raison mais encore par le cœur, c’est de cette dernière sorte que nous connaissons les premiers principes, et c’est en vain que le raisonnement, qui n’y a point de part, essaie de les combattre.

Some translations:

Pascal Trotter Ariew
sense droit right understanding right thinking
principe premise principle
droiture de sens acute judgment rightness of thinking
effets de l’eau hydrostatics effects of water
droiture d’esprit acuteness acute right thinking
géomètre mathematician geometer
esprit intellect mind
de justesse precise intuitive
de géometrie mathematical geometric
droiture exactness rightness
amplitude comprehension breadth

Trotter, Ariew:

There are then two kinds of intellect: the one able to penetrate acutely and deeply into the conclusions of given premises, and this is the precise intellect; the other able to comprehend a great number of premises without confusing them, and this is the mathematical intellect. The one has force and exactness, the other comprehension.

There are therefore two kinds of minds: the one, penetrating rapidly and deeply the consequences of principles, is the intuitive mind; the other, grasping a great number of principles without confusing them, is the geometric mind. The first has strength and rightness of mind, the second breadth of mind.

Ariew’s choices may often be more etymological, but Trotter’s seem better. Furetière:

DROITURE. s. f. Action de celuy qui va droit, qui rend justice. Droiture de sentiments. Droiture do cœur. Ce mot est de peu d’usage.

JUSTESSE. s. f. Précision, exactitude, regularité. Cet astronome a calculé des Tables avec une grand justesse. cet Orateur a une grande justesse d’esprit, parle avec justesse, pour dire, qu’il juge sainement des choses, & qu’il les explique en bons termes. il y a une grande justesse d’accords dans ce concert. il court la bague avec une grande justesse, il met souvent dedans.

Furetière has several definitions for principe, the following notable for its reference to what in Latin is petitio principii and in English “begging the question”:

Principe, se dit aussi des fondements de arts & des sciences. Les principes ne se doivent point prouver, il faut qu’il soient clairs, que se soient des notions communes. Il ne faut point disputer contre ceux qui nient les principes. Le plus mauvais raisonnement est celuy qui enferme une petition de principe, qui suppose une chose pour principe, qui ne l’est pas, & qu’il faut prouver. On le dit aussi par extension des premieres regles ou maximes d’un art. C’est un homme qui ne sçait pas les principes de la Geometrie, c’est à dire, il n’a pas appris les elements d’Euclide. Les principes de l’Astronomie sont tirez de la Geometrie. Les principes du Droit sont les Institutes de Justinien.

Two of the maximes of La Rochefoucauld are suggested as relevant:

448 Un esprit droit a moins de peine de se soumettre aux esprits de travers que de les conduire.

502 Peu d’esprit avec de la droiture ennuie moins, à la longue, que beaucoup d’esprit avec du travers.

Géométrie-Finesse II (SÉRIE XXII)

Fragment n° 1 / 2


Différence entre l’esprit de géométrie et l’esprit de finesse.

  • En l’un les principes sont palpables mais éloignés de l’usage commun, de sorte qu’on a peine à tourner la tête de ce côté‑là, manque d’habitude. Mais pour peu qu’on l’y tourne, on voit les principes à plein, et il faudrait avoir tout à fait l’esprit faux pour mal raisonner sur des principes si gros qu’il est presque impossible qu’ils échappent.
  • Mais dans l’esprit de finesse les principes sont dans l’usage commun et devant les yeux de tout le monde. On n’a que faire de tourner la tête ni de se faire violence, il n’est question que d’avoir bonne vue. Mais il faut l’avoir bonne, car les principes sont si déliés et en si grand nombre, qu’il est presque impossible qu’il n’en échappe. Or l’omission d’un principe mène à l’erreur. Ainsi il faut avoir la vue bien nette pour voir tous les principes, et ensuite l’esprit juste pour ne pas raisonner faussement sur des principes connus.

  • Tous les géomètres seraient donc fins s’ils avaient la vue bonne, car ils ne raisonnent pas faux sur les principes qu’ils connaissent. Et
  • les esprits fins seraient géomètres s’ils pouvaient plier leur vue vers les principes inaccoutumés de géométrie.

  • Ce qui fait donc que de certains esprits fins ne sont pas géomètres, c’est qu’ils ne peuvent du tout se tourner vers les principes de géométrie. Mais

  • ce qui fait que des géomètres ne sont pas fins, c’est

    • qu’ils ne voient pas ce qui est devant eux et

    • qu’étant accoutumés aux principes nets et grossiers de géométrie, et à ne raisonner qu’après avoir bien vu et manié leurs principes, ils se perdent dans les choses de finesse où les principes ne se laissent pas ainsi manier.

    On les voit à peine, on les sent plutôt qu’on ne les voit, on a des peines infinies à les faire sentir à ceux qui ne les sentent pas d’eux‑mêmes. Ce sont choses tellement délicates, et si nombreuses, qu’il faut un sens bien délicat et bien net pour les sentir et juger droit et juste selon ce sentiment, sans pouvoir le plus souvent le démontrer par ordre comme en géométrie, parce qu’on n’en possède pas ainsi les principes, et que ce serait une chose infinie de l’entreprendre. Il faut tout d’un coup voir la chose d’un seul regard, et non pas par progrès de raisonnement, au moins jusqu’à un certain degré.

  • Et ainsi il est rare que les géomètres soient fins et que les fins soient géomètres, à cause que les géomètres veulent traiter géométriquement ces choses fines et se rendent ridicules, voulant commencer par les définitions et ensuite par les principes, ce qui n’est pas la manière d’agir en cette sorte de raisonnement. Ce n’est pas que l’esprit ne le fasse mais il le fait tacitement, naturellement et sans art, car l’expression en passe tous les hommes, et le sentiment n’en appartient qu’à peu d’hommes.
  • Et les esprits fins au contraire, ayant ainsi accoutumé à juger d’une seule vue, sont si étonnés quand on leur présente des propositions où ils ne comprennent rien, et où pour entrer il faut passer par des définitions et des principes si stériles, qu’ils n’ont point accoutumé de voir ainsi en détail, qu’ils s’en rebutent et s’en dégoûtent.

Mais les esprits faux ne sont jamais ni fins ni géomètres.

  • Les géomètres qui ne sont que géomètres ont donc l’esprit droit, mais pourvu qu’on leur explique bien toutes choses par définitions et principes ; autrement ils sont faux et insupportables, car ils ne sont droits que sur les principes bien éclaircis.
  • Et les fins qui ne sont que fins ne peuvent avoir la patience de descendre jusque dans les premiers principes des choses spéculatives et d’imagination qu’ils n’ont jamais vues dans le monde, et tout à fait hors d’usage.

From l’esprit de géométrie,

  • l’esprit de justesse was distinguished as being de pénétrer vivement et profondément les conséquences des principes and not de comprendre un grand nombre de principes sans les confondre;

  • l’esprit de finesse is now being distinguished as having principles that sont si déliés et en si grand nombre, qu’il est presque impossible qu’il n’en échappe.

Nonetheless, Ariew calls them both “intuitive mind.*


FINESSE. s. f. Delicatesse, subtilité de quelque chose. La finesse de cette toile, de ces cheveux, de ce fil d’argent est admirable.

Finesse, se dit aussi figurément en Morale; & premierement en bonne part de tout ce qui est de plus fin, de plus delicat, de plus secret en quelque science, en quelque langue. Cet homme sçait toutes les finesses de son art. un estranger a du mal à apprendre toutes les finesses d’une autre langue.

Il se dit aussi en mauvaise part, pour signifier, Ruse, adresse, artifice. La meilleure finesse dans les affaires, c’est de n’en point avoir. cet homme fait finesse de tout, c’est à dire, fait un mistere d’une chose qui ne demande point de secret. Je n’y entens point de finesse, pour dire, Je parle sincerement.

On dit proverbialement, une finesse cousuë de fil blanc, pour dire, une ruse grossiere dont tout le monde s’apperçoit. Il est au bout de ses finesses, pour dire, au bout de ses inventions pour tromper. On dit aussi ironiquement, Vous y entendez finesse, pour dire, Vous n’entendez rien en ce mestier-là.

La Rochefoucauld (1613–80; in the 1975 edition of the Maximes, editor Jean-Pol Caput glosses finesse as ruse):

117 La plus subtile de toutes les finesses est de savoir bien feindre de tomber dans les pièges que l’on nous tend, et on n’est jamais si aisément trompé que quand on songe à tromper les autres.

124 Les plus habiles affectent toute leur vie de blâmer les finesses pour s’en servir en quelque grande occasion et pour quelque grand intérêt.

125 L’usage ordinaire de la finesse est la marque d’un petit esprit, et il arrive presque toujours que celui qui s’en sert pour se couvrir en un endroit, se découvre en un autre.

126 Les finesses et les trahisons ne viennent que de manque d’habileté.

350 Ce qui nous donne tant d’aigreur contre ceux qui nous font des finesses, c’est qu’ils croient être plus habiles que nous.

407 Il s’en faut bien que ceux qui s’attrapent à nos finesses ne nous paraissent aussi ridicules que nous nous le paraissons à nous-mêmes quand les finesses des autres nous ont attrapés.

Fragment n° 2 / 2


Géométrie / finesse.

La vraie éloquence se moque de l’éloquence. La vraie morale se moque de la morale, c’est‑à‑dire que la morale du jugement se moque de la morale de l’esprit qui est sans règles.


  • le jugement est celui à qui appartient le sentiment, comme
  • les sciences appartiennent à l’esprit.

  • La finesse est la part du jugement,
  • la géométrie est celle de l’esprit.

Se moquer de la philosophie c’est vraiment philosopher.


La nourriture du corps est peu à peu.

Plénitude de nourriture et peu de substance.

Règle de la créance (SÉRIE XX)

Fragment n° 1 / 8


Ils se cachent dans la presse et appellent le nombre à leur secours.




Tant s’en faut

  • que d’avoir ouï dire une chose soit la règle de votre créance,
  • que vous ne devez rien croire sans vous mettre en l’état comme si jamais vous ne l’aviez ouï.

C’est le consentement de vous à vous‑même et la voix constante de votre raison, et non des autres, qui vous doit faire croire.

Le croire est si important.

Cent contradictions seraient vraies.

Si l’antiquité était la règle de la créance, les anciens étaient donc sans règle.

Si le consentement général, si les hommes étaient péris.

Fausse humilité, orgueil.

Punition de ceux qui pèchent : erreur.

Levez le rideau.

Vous avez beau faire, si faut‑il

  • ou croire,
  • ou nier,
  • ou douter.

N’aurons‑nous donc pas de règle ?

Nous jugeons des animaux qu’ils font bien ce qu’ils font. N’y aura‑t‑il point une règle pour juger des hommes ?

Nier, croire et douter bien, sont à l’homme ce que le courir est au cheval.

This could be such a call for freedom, or an assertion of freedom, as I may have seen only once before, in the ninth reading, 492–505–592–750:

Si les Juifs eussent été tous convertis par Jésus-Christ nous n’aurions plus que des témoins suspects. Et s’ils avaient été exterminés, nous n’en aurions point du tout.

Jews (and anybody else) must be free to reject Christianity.

I can then read the present fragment as saying belief is up to you. Belief is not something to be taken up on the basis of anything in the world, such as that

  • other people share it,
  • it’s old,
  • you will be punished for not sharing it.

The punishment for false belief is the error itself. We judge whether animals are doing what we want. We can and must likewise judge ourselves, individually.

Fragment n° 2 / 8


Quod crebro videt non miratur, etiamsi cur fiat nescit. Quod ante non viderit, id si evenerit, ostentum esse censet [Ce qu’il voit fréquemment ne l’étonne pas, même s’il en ignore la cause. Mais s’il arrive quelque chose qu’il n’a jamais vue, il la regarde comme un prodige]. Cic.

I defer to Descotes and Proust:

Ce fragment et les suivants sont des excerpta tirés de Montaigne. L’originalité de ces notes, que Pascal met sans doute en réserve pour un usage ultérieur, n’est pas immédiatement visible … la plupart n’a pas été intégrée à des textes étoffés, mais certaines d’entre elles ont été utilisées dans d’autres fragments. Quoiqu’ils ne soient assortis d’aucun commentaire, ces extraits présentent donc l’intérêt de nous renseigner sur les techniques de composition de Pascal.

Fragment n° 3 / 8


583. Nae iste magno conatu magnas nugas dixerit [Certes, il va se donner un grand mal pour me dire de grandes balivernes]. Térent.

Quasi quicquam infelicius sit homine cui sua figmenta dominantur [Comme s’il y avait plus grande misère pour l’homme que d’être dominé par ses propres fictions]. Plin.

Fragment n° 4 / 8


588. Ex senatusconsultis et plebiscitis scelera exercentur [C’est en vertu des senatus-consultes et des plébiscites qu’on commet des crimes]. Sén.

Nihil tam absurde dici potest quod non dicatur ab aliquo philosophorum [On ne peut rien dire de si absurde qui n’ait été dit par quelque philosophe]. Divin.

Quibusdam destinatis sententiis consecrati, quae non probant coguntur defendere [Qui sont voués à certaines opinions fixes et déterminées, au point d’être réduits à défendre les choses mêmes qu’ils désapprouvent]. Cic.

Ut omnium rerum sic litterarum quoque intemperantia laboramus [Nous n’avons pas moins à souffrir d’immodération dans l’étude des lettres que dans tout le reste]. Sén.

588. Id maxime quemque decet, quod est cujusque suum maxime [Ce qui nous sied le mieux est ce qui nous est le plus propre].

Hos natura modos primum dedit [Voilà les premières lois que donna la nature]. Géorg.

Paucis opus est litteris ad bonam mentem [Il ne faut guère de lettres pour atteindre la sagesse].

Si quando turpe non sit, tamen non est non turpe quum id a multitudine laudetur [Une chose, même s’il se trouve qu’elle ne soit pas honteuse, ne laisse pas de l’être quand elle a l’approbation de la multitude].

Mihi sic usus est, tibi ut opus est facto, fac [Pour moi, c’est ainsi que j’en use ; vous, faites comme il vous faut faire]. Tér.

Fragment n° 5 / 8


Rarum est enim ut satis se quisque vereatur [Il est rare, en effet, qu’on se respecte assez soi-même].

Fragment n° 6 / 8


Tot circa unum caput tumultuantes deos [Tant de dieux s’agitant autour d’un seul homme].

Fragment n° 7 / 8


Nihil turpius quam cognitioni assertionem praecurrere [Rien n’est plus honteux que de faire marcher l’assertion et l’approbation avant la perception et la connaissance]. Cic.

Fragment n° 8 / 8


Nec me pudet ut istos, fateri nescire quodnesciam [Je n’ai pas honte, comme ces gens-là, d’avouer que j’ignore ce que j’ignore].

Melius non incipient [Il vaut mieux qu’ils ne commencent pas qu’ils ne s’arrêtent].

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