Tag Archives: Jonathan Edwards

“It Was Good”

In the first creation myth in the first book of the Hebrew Bible, God is always looking back at what he has been doing, to see whether it is any good. It always is, but he cannot have known in advance that it was going to be, and this is why he has to check his work.

So it seems to me. In any case, when we create things, part of the job is checking our work.

The new Turkish translation of Collingwood’s Religion and Philosophy
with introduction by yours truly

We do create things. This blog post is an example. So is your response, if you come up with one. So is an electric car, or a vaccine.

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Judaism for Pascal

This blog’s occupation with Pascal may continue four more weeks. Four readings of the Pensées remain to be posted here, with my annotations.

The present post will take up a question raised by the latest reading so far, which is the thirteenth.

In the twelfth reading, to somebody looking for faith, Pascal recommended acting as if he already had it. For the person of today, faced with various options, at least in a liberal society, the question remains (which was asked in our seminar) of which faith to follow. Could the person of Pascal’s day, whether gentile or Jew by breeding, have sensibly considered the option of Judaism as a faith, according to Pascal?

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Pascal, Pensées, S 688–719

Index for this series

The reading is Sellier 688–719, which is Lafuma 436–484, or

Labels are Sellier–La Guern–Lafuma–Brunschvicg. There is an extra fragment, 698–425 bis–973–919.

Points of Note

Jews revere a holy book that tells them how bad they are and will always be, Pascal observes admiringly in 692–422–452–631. In 688–407–436–628 he criticizes the Iliad for being fiction intended for diversion; but I think it is the Greek holy book, even while showing that

  • the Greeks are fools for trusting in the gods they do;
  • the best human beings may be foreigners.

Christianity is nearly as far from deism as from atheism, according to Pascal in (690)–419–449–556. You may be led to either extreme by the natural light of reason. Pascal will base no argument on this, he goes on to say; scripture doesn’t, he points out in 702–431–463–243. The proof of religion is only enough to justify the inclination of your heart, according to 700–429–461–584 and 717–447–482–289.

Les hommes sont tout ensemble indignes de Dieu et capables de Dieu, says Pascal in (690)–414–444–557: “men are both unworthy and capable of God,” as Trotter has it, or “men are all at once unworthy and capable of God,” for Ariew. Whether in French or English, such use of capable is obsolete, but is found, before Pascal, in Anglican theologian Richard Hooker:

Happiness … containeth in it … the highest degree of all our perfection. Of such perfection capable we are not in this life … Capable we are of God, both by understanding and will.

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The Hands of an Angry Deity

I first drafted the following essay in late October, 2011, a few days after the first of the earthquakes in Van, and a few weeks after moving to Istanbul from Ankara. I rediscovered the essay recently by chance. It seems worth revisiting now, in the spring of 2017, given the political upheaval in the United States last fall, and the potential for more around the world.

Above Mehmetçik Caddesi in Şişli, one of the most densely populated of Istanbul’s 39 boroughs; 2017.04.02

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