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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  11,398 ratings  ·  451 reviews
Blaise Pascal, the precociously brilliant contemporary of Descartes, was a gifted mathematician and physicist, but it is his unfinished apologia for the Christian religion upon which his reputation now rests. The Penseés is a collection of philosohical fragments, notes and essays in which Pascal explores the contradictions of human nature in pscyhological, social, metaphys ...more
Paperback, 334 pages
Published July 27th 1995 by Penguin Classics (first published 1670)
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Michael Sculley Here's the full quote:

“If we submit everything to reason our religion will be left with nothing mysterious or supernatural. If we offend the principle…more
Here's the full quote:

“If we submit everything to reason our religion will be left with nothing mysterious or supernatural. If we offend the principles of reason our religion will be absurd and ridiculous . . . There are two equally dangerous extremes: to exclude reason, to admit nothing but reason.”
― Blaise Pascal, Pensées(less)

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May 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: religion, philosophy

Perhaps half of this was basically wasted on me. As an atheist, books providing proofs for the existence of God are perhaps 40 years or so too late. The problem here isn’t so much that he is trying to prove the existence of an entity that he himself admits particularly likes to hide – presumably you can see the problem here – but also that some of his proofs seemed utterly bizarre to me. One of my favourites was him saying that the Old Testament was the ol
Aug 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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). Recognizing this, Pascal places a weighty emphasis on the heart and the nature of its ...more
E. G.
Introduction, by Anthony Levi
Note on the Text
Select Bibliography
A Chronology of Blaise Pascal


--Discussion with Monsieur de Sacy
--The Art of Persuasion

Writings on Grace:
--Letter on the Possibility of the Commandments
--Treatise concerning Predestination

Explanatory Notes
Thematic Index
peiman-mir5 rezakhani
‎دوستانِ گرانقدر، در این چرت و پرت نامه که نامِ آن را کتاب نهاده اند و آن را با عنوانِ "تفکرات" میشناسیم، <پاسکال> به عالم و آدم تاخته است و تنها مسیح و مسیحیت و کاتولیک را خوب و نیک میداند
‎پاسکال تصور کرده که تمامیِ انسانها همچون خودش بیشعور و بیخرد هستند
‎تعصب به مسیحیت، چشمِ خردِ پاسکال را کور کرده و استعدادی را که او در ریاضیات داشته است را نابود کرده است... برخی از دینداران، او را با عنوانِ فیلسوف میشناسند. امّا این به نوعی بی احترامی به فلاسفهٔ اندیشمند و خردگرا، در طولِ تاریخ میباشد... پاس
David Sarkies
Jul 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anybody
Recommended to David by: Bible College
Shelves: christian
Religious Thoughts of a Mathematician
29 August 2016 - Paris, France

When I was learning French I was rather thrown by the way their numbers work after about 60, as is demonstrated by this picture, which shows how English, German, and French construct the number 98:

French Numbers

My first thought was 'this is absolutely ridiculous, how on Earth could the French have produced any mathematicians?” Well, it turns out that they produced at least two – Rene Descartes (notable for Cartesian Geometry) and Blaise Pasc
Apr 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
This bushy and dense work is the last book of Jansenist Blaise Pascal, singing the praises of the Christian religion in the face of non-believers and sceptics in a whole lot of reflections. For my part, this reading was compulsory in the academic baccalaureate program, since I only put two stars, it goes without saying that I did not stick at all to Pascalian ideas.
Jan 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, religion
Pascal's Pensées 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
This was a fantastic reading experience - in what I suspect maybe the most obscure and unhelpful comparison I may make on Goodreads - the literary version of Janacek's On an Overgrown Path in which as the cycle of pieces continues the music grows sparser and the silences speak ever louder until a few bare notes are richly poignant.

Now, how was the Pascal similar? In the edition I came across you effectively read the pensees in reserve order, starting from the most developed form of the idea
Michael Perkins
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
"We never keep to the present. We recall the past; we anticipate the future as if we found it too slow in coming and were trying to hurry it up, or we recall the past as if to stay its too rapid flight. We are so unwise that we wander about in times that do not belong to us, and do not think of the only one that does.

Let each of us examine his thoughts; he will find them wholly concerned with the past or the future. We almost never think of the present, and if we do think of it, it is only to se
Roy Lotz
Pascal seems to have been born for greatness. At a young age he displayed an intense talent for mathematics, apparently deducing a few propositions of Euclid by himself; and he matured into one of the great mathematical minds of Europe, making fundamental contributions to the science of probability. While he was at it, he invented an adding machine: the beginning of our adventures in computing.

Later on in his short life, after narrowly escaping a carriage accident, the young man had an intense
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: theory
Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists.

Pascal maintains a certain antipathy to Montaigne throughout this collection. Despite my assertion being a specious argument, feel free to embrace that fact to avoid this. It is is clear why the essayist so unnerved Pascal: the self is always multitudes.

James Henderson
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
May 02, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Do you wish people to believe good of you? Don’t speak.”

Pascal was the master of the one liner. Pensées is laced with aphorisms. It also overflows with serious considerations. Not to be read fast or superficially. (Unfortunately my first reading in the 1960s was both.) Therefore, this review will be in sections, as I read the major subdivisions of the text.

“The last thing one settles in a book is what one should put in first.”

Since Pensées was not published before Pascal died in 1662, textual
Nelson Zagalo
O livro "Pensamentos", de Blaise Pascal, nunca existiu enquanto tal, à semelhança do "Livro do Desassossego" foi compilado por quem encontrou milhares de notas soltas depois da sua morte. Diferentemente do livro de Pessoa, e provavelmente por ter sido descoberto noutro tempo, a sua primeira versão, e mais amplamente reproduzida, opta por apresentar apenas uma parte dos documentos deixados por Pascal. Catalogado como edição Port-Royal (1670), apresenta-se como um livro de capítulos completos, ree ...more
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
May 30, 2020 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I honestly don’t know what to think of this little work called Pensées (1670). Which perhaps is only fitting, considering I honestly don’t know what to think of its author Blaise Pascal as well. Pascal was a very gifted intellect, home-schooled by his father, and through this father from a very early age on he was engaged with the intellectual circles of the time.

In his early twenties he built the first calculator, basically invented probability theory, made discoveries in the natural sciences (
Justin Evans
Dec 12, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dean M (Vox Poetica)
A long boring slog with golden nuggets interspersed within. Love hate relationship with this book. Been an updown on the shelf journey of several years
David Huff
Aug 31, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Imagine keeping a journal of your private thoughts, opinions, and deep philosophical and theological musings --- collected snippets and notes never intended for publication in any way --- and then having them appear in book form for three and a half centuries after your death. That, basically, is how the Pensees ("thoughts expressed in literary form") of Blaise Pascal came to exist.

This was a fascinating read, filled with many short, sometimes cryptic aphorisms, a good number of which -- but no
I'm the wrong person for this, the wrong person entirely. It's hard to fault Pascal's prose, and while a lot of these little aphorisms are rather wonderful, melancholy mutterings. But he just keeps getting bogged down in the “proofs of Jesus,” which are really just Pascal grabbing at straws, what's wrong with the Jews, and other hallmarks of the big game of pinball that was 17th Century theology. And in fact, it comes off as rather desperate towards the end, which, perhaps can be expected from t ...more
Mar 24, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Vince Potenza
Jul 15, 2010 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
andreea.  (paperrcuts)
Only read the first half because the second one is unreadable unless you're a religious fanatic. There's something so utterly charming in Pascal's saying, while trying to prove God's existence:
222 / Atheists. "Why cannot a virgin bear a child? Does a hen not lay eggs without a cock?"

That's it. That's exactly it. Women are just like hens.
Nov 27, 2008 rated it liked it
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
Jeffrey Romine
Feb 19, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, chrisitan
"They say the Church says what it does not say and that it does not say what it does."

"Four kinds of person: zeal without knowledge, knowledge without zeal, neither knowledge nor zeal, both zeal and knowledge."

Pascal exudes a certain thorough logic, recalling his wager. My only wish is that this book contained more of it.
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,
Jul 06, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Fouiller dans les papiers d'un mort et publier ses réflexions misanthropes et pessimistes. Le contenu est éreintant. ...more
Gary  Beauregard Bottomley
There are multiple levels to this book. It works best when he's sharing his wisdom by using aphorisms (short pithy and usually wise statements ). They're so many pearls within this book that it wouldn't be worthwhile to highlight with a highlighter because you would highlight over half of the book. Pascal really has a great way of looking at the world and giving a smart sounding soundbite.

Matter of fact, I would say this is one of the best self help books I've ever came across. He clearly also h
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All About Books: Pensées, by Blaise Pascal (Dhanaraj, Alice & Jenny) 38 49 Oct 18, 2014 11:13AM  
Christian Theolog...: Pascal's Wager 46 37 Aug 21, 2014 04:53PM  
philosophy 1 11 Feb 22, 2014 10:54AM  

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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.

A near-fatal

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