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The Pensees

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 24, 2002

    Worth the effort

    If you are used to reading modern writers the Pensees will be difficult at first. Pascal uses almost no anecdotal stories to illustrate his points preferring to construct logical arguments that build one upon the other- If x, then y; therefore z. This can be hard to follow at first. However, due to the rough nature of the book (he never completed the book so it is still very much in outline form) he repeats his arguments in several different sections. The effect is not as clumsy as it may sound. His themes become apparent and there is no fluff to interfere with his main point, which is a clear and rational explanation of the Christian faith. Pascal covers several general themes throughout the book. 1. Nature is corrupt- The fall was universal. All nature has been corrupted through the fall; human nature especially. The effect of this is that we are unable to think clearly about ourselves, others or God and therefore unable to see God or be content. 2. Nature has been redeemed through Christ- Likewise, this redemption is universal. Through Christ, we can begin to think clearly about God, ourselves and others- life and the universe as well. Though I do not think he meant to sound so phenomenological (an ungainly word). It is not a change centered on us as if we were the reason for it; rather we see the truth that was always there though we did not understand. 3. These first two arguments follow Ro 5:12-20; Sin through Adam and righteousness through Christ. 4. God hides himself or rather is hidden from us due to number 1- The result of the fall was to drive us away from God physically, spiritually and psychologically. 5. But, not so much that those who earnestly seek him cannot find him due to number 2- However the true nature of mankind is still seeking God, even though we are utterly wretched. We grieve for what was lost in the fall because we ¿know¿ that we have lost something. 6. People spend their lives comforting themselves with diversions to sooth their grieving. 7. People deceive themselves with diversions, bad thinking and vice, then claim God does not exist though they never seek him 8. People ought to spend their entire lives seeking Him- Pascal believed this to be the chief duty of man. If I can contrast this with the chief duty of Man after conversion, which is to love God and enjoy Him forever, the chief duty of Man prior to conversion, according to Pascal, is to seek God. There is a thought provoking section describing the difference between Deism and Christianity- Pascal asserts that Deism is as far from Christianity as Atheism. The two fundamental truths of Christianity are numbers 1 and 2 above; the fall and redemption. Deism simply asserts that there is a God of some kind, somewhere, doing something. Pascal maintains that is as useless as maintaining that there is no God at all. The rough structure of the Pensees allows the reader to see Pascal's mind at work more clearly than if it were a polished and edited work. It is fascinating to see ideas develop through the different snippets of thought as he writes. One sees an idea begin as a sentence (perhaps a truncated paragraph), then a complete or revised paragraph later in the work. Sometimes he ends in mid sentence with an incomplete thought, then several chapters later the idea is revisited in a different form and is completed. It is seldom that a work of literature allows the reader to experience the thought process of the author. The famous wager is a very small 2 or 3 page section of the book. It does not really make sense taken alone; one must read the entire work to really understand where he is coming from.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 24, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    GREAT!

    Any Chrisitan of any age who is interested in philosophy, theology and apologetics in general should read this book.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2008

    A timeless classic

    A book for all ages and times. It conveys timeless and classical wisdon from a unique genius. Required reading for anyone wishing to plumb the depth of one of the world's greatest thinkers

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2009

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    Posted November 10, 2009

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