Tag Archives: Richard Hooker

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 Whether in French or English, such use of capable is obsolete, but is found, before Pascal, in Anglican theologian Richard Hooker: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.

Continue reading