I pensieri
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I pensieri

3.95 of 5 stars 3.95  ·  rating details  ·  5,920 ratings  ·  182 reviews
Blaise Pascal's Pensées is a work of Christian apologetics and theology, written mostly in fragments of grouped and ungrouped thoughts, as Pascal died before the work was completed and arranged according to his intentions. Contains the famous Pascal's Wager.
Hardcover, Maestri #110, 591 pages
Published March 25th 1961 by Edizioni Paoline (first published 1669)
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Szplug
Men are so necessarily mad that it would be another twist of madness not to be mad.

And what completes our inability to understand things is that they are not so simple in themselves, and we are made up of two different kinds of opposing natures, body and soul...For this reason almost all philosophers confuse the ideas of things, and speak spiritually of corporeal things and corporeally of spiritual ones...Instead of accepting the idea of these things in their pure state, we tint them with our q
...more
James
It is difficult to decide what to say upon reading The Pensees of Blaise Pascal. The fragments, some resembling aphorisms with a few extending to several pages of prose, were left disorganized and unedited at Pascal's death. Readers have pondered over The Pensees (literally thoughts) ever since trying to interpret them and discern some semblance of a world view from them. In my reading I also tried to comprehend the fragmentary comments and found the views of Monsieur Pascal, to the extent that...more
David
Pascal's classic thoughts on numerous topics related to Christianity. This book is at times difficult to read, since he died before he finished it thus leaving many sections only outlined in note form. But slogging through those portions is worthwhile when you get to the good, thought-provoking parts. In some ways Pascal reminds me of Kierkegaard since both were reasonable men who realized that it takes more than just reason alone to come to faith in Christ. Pascal's apologetic reflects this. He...more
Jesse
Pascal has caused atheists to doubt their atheism more often than Nietzsche has theists their theism - why? Because those that let their hearts guide their thoughts are never in doubt, but those who unwisely look to results to guide them, as macho ubermensches perforce exclusively must, are always finding their conviction to be as slippery as the passing moment (no one result ever convinces the result-minded, e.g., reliabilism). Recognizing this, Pascal places a weighty emphasis on the heart and...more
Dan
Pascal's Pensees were never intended to be read, much like Marcus Aurelius' Meditations. As such, they honestly reveal the private thoughts of great philosophers on the human condition, and lo, they speak of how miserable people are. Both were lonely men made so by their great intellect and great character. While Marcus continues to strive with Ragnarokian futility to fulfill all his duties in a life of perfect virtue, Pascal is a bit more pessimistic, yet in the end more hopeful when he looks t...more
Conrad
Not to be mixed up with his first, somewhat less mature work of theology, "Peeneses," this collection of aphorisms and assorted sentence-long bits of wisdom has been pleasing everyone it could since it was written nearly eight thousand years ago. Pascal's influence on such diverse thinkers as Dostoevsky and Wittgenstein has been incalculable, though his fame probably reached its apex when the world-famous comic strip "Modesty Blaise" was named in his honor.

I am no worshipper of the Christ, but B...more
Sophia
Blaise Pascal only cared about pleasure and friends and living a life of happiness... until late one night on November 23, 1654. Pascal was out late that night with his buddies when he had a near death experience. A runnaway cart nearly crushed the young men. Pascal fainted on the street and had a vision. When Blaise had regained consiousness he immeadiately wrote a note to himself, which he never told anyone about. Pascal dthen dedicated his life to God. After his death the note was found by hi...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
The Wager is laughably ridiculous and what's even more ridiculous is that it's still the standard last ditch move of theological apologetics. Another embarassingly naive thing I remember this otherwise brilliant mathematician and natural philosopher actually preserving with his pen for us to read centuries later was that Christianity is the oldest religion and therefore the best and truest hypothesis concerning questions of god and religion. How many false statements can we extrapolate from this...more
Justin Evans
Wow- I read the edited version, which the Levis got down to about 180, plus a few other essays which were reasonably helpful. Having done this, I'm pretty happy saying that someone should really do a 90 page version, which would give you much of the important material, without any of the random notes. When people read, say, Heidegger or Dostoevsky, they don't feel obliged to read the notes they made on the back of restaurant menus along the lines of "look up Kierkegaard on the color green" or "t...more
Vince Potenza
This is a tough one.

There are two reasons why I read this book: (1) For years a long time ago, in my capacity as Production Manager for a printing company, I helped produce the local high school’s annual literary/arts magazine, The Thinking Reed. It won First Prize in the statewide Scholastic Publications Competition every single year. On the back cover of every issue was: “Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. —Blaise Pascal.” All my life I’ve been total...more
Ştefan Bolea
"We are no longer dealing, as in the case of St. Augustine, with a precursor of Existentialism. Pascal is an existentialist." (William Barrett, Irrational Man, p. 111) This is why I read/ studied this book. Barrett is right: many Existentialist themes are approached by Pascal (for instance death, authenticity, possible absurdity of faith - the great thesis of Kierkegaard's FT). However, his fanaticism, intolerance (uninspired dismissals of Judaism and Islam) and especially the insistance of the...more
Marie
I sure do have a lot to think about after reading this in its entirety, and worse, in a day. I am impressed at Pascal's clarity and present value of his message, considering this was written 300+ years ago.

Even getting more difficult for those who are not familiar with latin or Bible towards the end, it's worth reading. I have had the luck to be able to read the edition with T.S. Eliot's introduction right from Project Gutenberg. I do recommend that one as well, if you can find it in a printed v...more
Scott Gates
At certain points in the Pensees, one gets a sense of how fascinating this book could be if it weren’t for the fact that Pascal is bound in so many places by dogma.

Pascal thinks there once were natural laws, but since we’ve been corrupted, those laws have been corrupted as well. Thus: living in line with nature (which Stoics saw as the highest virtue) Pascal sees as a flaw, since nature itself is flawed.

Hence laws are nothing more than human custom; law is just whatever happens to be the law a...more
jo mo
Mar 18, 2014 jo mo marked it as dropped  ·  review of another edition
“What is the self?

“A man who sits at the window to watch the passers-by; can I say he sat there to see me if I pass by? No, for he is not thinking of me in particular. But someone who loves a person for her beauty, does he love her? No, because smallpox, which will destroy her beauty without destroying the person, will ensure that he no longer loves her.

“And if someone loves me for my judgement, for my memory, is it me they love? No, because I can lose these qualities without losing myself. Wher...more
Bogdan Liviu
Iubesc la Pascal spiritul combativ, obsesia cu care-i ataca pe ceilalti care nu cred, de parca doar convertindu-i pe ceilalti poate crede si el din tot sufletul. Nu simt in randuri acel zambet al lui Buddha, acel calm divin sau liniste plina de har/limpezime sufleteasca - nicidecum! E un suflet chinuit, constient de abjectul launtric, un sceptic care se-agata de credinta pentru a se purifica. Fortandu-se sa creada, a trait radical. Toata viata i-a fost o lipsa de armonie exterioara, nebucurandu-...more
Bradley Eylander
First book i read on my iTouch. Took a little longer because the book was split into different statements rather than being a continuous writing like a story.
The content of the book was amazing, Pascal was defiantly a smart philosopher of his time. The book went over reasons why he believed in God and Christianity but not in a 'traditional' apologetic sense. He wrote a lot about man and linked that to why there perhaps is a God and commented why he believed Christianity is the most reasonable (...more
Bob
It's fascinating to see a brilliant person struggling organize his thoughts on his religious and ethical beliefs, because these are both ridiculously complex and profoundly significant. The reader has to use these, as Pascal presumably did, as stepping stones, reminders, and challenges to his own life. Some of my favorites:
"All our life passes in this way: we seek rest by struggling against certain obstacles, and once they are overcome, rest proves intolerable because of the boredom it produce...more
Ismail N.
Okay. So here's the deal. This book was mediocre. Blaise Pascal was a mathematician turned theologian, who totally eschewed statistics during the last few years of his life (died at 39 due to illness). This book was an EXTREMELY intimate account of his views and experience on God and religion. To cut the crap, Pascal was a bigot. All the bigotry and prejudice aside, Pascal had some words of wisdom when it came to metaphysics, happiness, free will, and morality. I would recommend this read if you...more
Timothy
Pascal is tenderly calculative. I wonder if I just made that word up? If you've heard evangelical buzz talk centered around "the good, the true, and the beautiful"--which I have used in my own writing--you can know that Pascal used those terms in similar context in the 17th century. Pensees or fragments as we would call it is beautifully written, loaded with quotable thought lines, and great to read while at any of your favorite watering holes.

Enjoy.
Alex Rubenstein
Most people will remember Pascal for his Wager: that whether or not God exists is something we can consider a bet, and that this bet has outcomes. It's a 2x2 matrix, really, in that we either bet that God exists or does not, and consider the outcomes of doing so as either nothingness after we die, everlasting life and heaven, or some version of hell. If we believe God exists (practicing faith in our "corporeal" life) and he/she/it does, then we will be rewarded grandly. If we bet God exists and...more
Jon
This book, if you haven't heard of it, is a collection of notes by brilliant 17th century mathematician Blaise Pascal. He intended for them to become a book defending the Christian faith, but he died before it came together. It's a hard book to jump into, because it's fragmented and includes many references to a French guy named Montaigne that you've probably never heard of. That being said, I think everyone should read this for its profound insights and historical significance.

It's worth a rea...more
Douglas Dalrymple
I first read Pascal about fifteen years ago (in my twenties) and what I dimly suspected then I am confident of now. There’s a passage in V.S Pritchett’s autobiographical Midnight Oilwhere a young woman sneers at him with disapproval: “I see you are a follower of Montaigne rather than Pascal.”

I am too.
Mike (the Paladin)
I haven't finished this and I still feel almost ready to give it a 5, Be sure what you believe from the Bible. But read this for insight even should you disagree with it.

Update: I'd call this a book to "read in" rather than a book to read only cover to cover, just me,
Jens
This was as difficult to read as can be expected from a loose collection of thoughts that was (at least in this form) never intended to be published. Nonetheless, this gives the "Pensées" a certain charm since it reflects the unfiltered thoughts of a great philosopher - a true skeptic turned true believer.
Pascas's work has to be understood as a work in the age of enlightenment, and (partially) as a response to the attempt to explain everything by reason alone. This is where Pascal shines; he was...more
Katrinka
*Finally* finished this over the course of two lengthy plane rides. Had I somehow read Pascal's thoughts as a contemporary, I suppose I would've been much more engaged-- but having taken it on as a duty, after having heard so many others expound upon it, the magic was gone before I even got started. I really enjoyed the more "secular" witticisms at the beginning of the book, but finally had to resort more or less to skimming whole chunks in order to get through it all. I realize the 2-star ratin...more
Alexander
There are many positive qualities a book of this kind, the sort of philosophical spirituality written to plumb and assess the human condition, can possess. A book might be thoughtful, careful, or insightful, clearly-written, visionary, or synoptic. In the case of Pascal's Pensees what one finds, however, is brilliance. Quite simply this is one of the most brilliant books I can remember reading, bringing light into all kinds of dark corners and shocking the reader with new insights into himself o...more
Kenneth
A beautiful book that is the height of brilliant philosophical writing. So many heart-breaking lines of truth concerning the human condition. The first "existential" writer. The last pre-modern philosopher prior to Descartes.

Pascal's Wager is even today the profound conclusion of Christianity since the collapse of Medieval civilization.

Why believe God, heaven, hell, Jesus, the Bible. What else is there. Nothing. A life where values have no justification. Pleasure.

A matter of taste when pleasure...more
Austin Williams
**APOLOGIES FOR RUSHED REVIEW*** I tend to prefer having more time to think things through, cite passages, etc., but there are some who have expressed an interest in my thoughts on this book ASAP, and so, I present this scattered, half-thought review for your approval. ("I would have written a shorter review, but I did not have the time.")

I disagreed with Pascal a lot while I was reading Pensées. I bickered. I rolled my eyes. But ultimately, what is important in Pensées still shines through: the...more
Bryan
This book is a collection of thoughts that Pascal put together in preparation for a formal treatise on religion. As such it understandably lacked much of the polish that you find in some of his other works. A lot of people make a big deal about his section on the "wager", and I'll admit that it's one of the more shocking ideas to be found here, but it would be a shame to give that too much weight, since there's a lot more to this collection than that. There are many very perceptive, thoughtful,...more
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All About Books: Pensées, by Blaise Pascal (Dhanaraj, Alice & Jenny) 12 23 17 hours, 1 min ago  
philosophy 1 6 Feb 22, 2014 10:54AM  
  • Philosophical Fragments/Johannes Climacus (Kierkegaard's Writings, Volume 7)
  • Summa Theologica, 5 Vols
  • Maxims
  • The Enneads
  • Leibniz: Philosophical Essays
  • The Major Works (World's Classics)
  • The Discourses
  • The Complete Essays
  • On Christian Doctrine
  • The Consolation of Philosophy
  • New Science
  • Philosophical Dictionary
  • The Essays
  • On the Incarnation
  • Three Treatises
  • Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems: Ptolemaic and Copernican
  • Waiting for God
  • A Serious Call to a Devout and Holy Life
10994
French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal was a contemporary of René Descartes and was ten when Galileo Galilei was forced to recant his belief that the earth circled the sun. He and Thomas Hobbes lived in Paris at the same time (1640) including the year Hobbes published his famous Leviathan (1651). Together with Pierre de Fermat, Pascal created the calculus of probabilities.

Pascal wrote...more
More about Blaise Pascal...
Human Happiness The Mind on Fire: A Faith for the Skeptical and Indifferent The Provincial Letters Selections from the Thoughts Foundations of the Christian Religion (Foundations of Faith)

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