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Pensées and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics) [Paperback]

By Blaise Pascal, Honor Levi (Translator) & Anthony Levi (Editor)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   267
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 7.5" Width: 5" Height: 0.6"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Jul 1, 2008
Publisher   Oxford University Press
ISBN  0199540365  
EAN  9780199540365  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
For much of his life, Pascal (1623-62) worked on a magnum opus which was never published in the form the philosopher intended. Instead, Pascal left a mass of fragments, some of them meant as notes for the Apologie. These became known as the Pensees, and they occupy a crucial place in Western philosophy and religious writing.
Pascal's general intention was to confound scepticism about metaphysical questions. Some of the Pensees are fully developed literary reflections on the human condition, some contradict others, and some remain jottings whose meaning will never be clear. The most important are among the most powerful aphorisms about human experience and behavior ever written in any language.
This translation is the only one based on the Pensees as Pascal left them. It includes the principal dossiers classified by Pascal, as well as the essential portion of the important Writings on Grace. A detailed thematic index gives access to Pascal's areas of concern, while the selection of texts and the introduction help to show why Pascal changed the plan of his projected work before abandoning the book he might have written.
About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more."

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More About Blaise Pascal, Honor Levi & Anthony Levi

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Honor Levi is a teacher at St Leonard's School, St Andrew's, Fife. Anthony Levi is a retired Professor of French at St Andrews.

Blaise Pascal was born in 1623 and died in 1662.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
A beautiful mind  Oct 13, 2006
Seldom does a week go by that one of Pascal's musings doesn't come to my mind. Most often, I think, his comment that he believes that all man's misery is due to either laziness or impatience ("....not being able to sit quietly in a room alone"). I've seen that played out so many times, and it's my favorite lecture to my grandchildren.

As another reviewer has said, Pascal's most provocative reflections are on the miraculous survival of the nation of Israel and what that tells us about the divine authorship of the Bible. This was especially surprising and gratifying to me in light of his times and religious affiliation.

Most amusing is his fascination with the male fixation on games involving balls. He turns that one over and over and never quite figures it out.

I always find it restful to pick up this tiny, sweet-tempered book--so huge in its enduring wisdom--and read a few pages. It always gives me something more worthwhile and just plain fun to think about than politics and my irritating next-door neighbor.
Difficult  Aug 12, 2005
Hard to grasp. A following sentence will contradict the sentence above. Ravings not musings. If read by a believer it is great writing. If read by a stoic it's ragtime.

"In order to love God you must hate yourself." ???
The Spirtual/Logical Mind Reveals Thoughful Comtemplations  Apr 20, 2005
Pascal's Pensees are among the more interesting and enlightened of Christian writings. Pascal was a brilliant 17th century mathematician and scientist who tabulated binomial coefficients, provided groundwork in the field of hydrodynamics and also invented the syringe. But for some reason he seems to be known best for his "Pensees" (thoughts). These Pensees are deeply religious but like Pascal's Wager (the argument that it makes sense to believe in god even if it can't be proven scientifically) they are also extraordinarily logical. And this is the crux of the enigma that is Blaise Pascal: how could a man of such brilliant reason also have such unshakeable faith? The answer is to some degree in the Pensees but at the same it is also something so sublime that it touches the realm of existentialism. Regardless, the Pensees are really thoughtful writings not all of which confront the existence of God. The also provide interesting insight into the intellect of the early age of reason.

Many compare Pascal to Montaigne and though I agree that they came from the same stock they certainly fall into different camps. Montaigne was an intellectual bon vivant and if one reads his "Essays" it is easy to see that his value in reason and science is not nearly as complete as that of Pascal. I really enjoy Montaigne and find myself thinking more like he did than Pascal. My belief is that their style of straightforward easy eloquence is similar due to the fact that they were both French intellectuals but the comparison should end there. The Pensees are great and I don't think they were meant to be read with any speed. Buying a copy is a great investment because it provides a series of aphorisms and thoughts for a lifetime of contemplation.

- Ted Murena
A milestone of Western religious thought   Oct 18, 2004
This is one of the great works of Western religious thought. It is written in fragments, but these fragments are often brilliant poetic thoughts . Many of them have become part of the everyday vocabulary of the Western mind. " Man is a reed, but he is a thinking reed" " The silence of these infinite spaces cast me into dread"
Among the major suggestions of Pascal's thought is the Pascalian wager which William James picked upon. Roughly speaking betting on the non- existence of G-d gives nothing. But betting on the existence of G-d give the possibility of eternity. Therefore says Pascal we should be wise and bet on the existence of God. And this though it is not certain that God wants us as gamblers.
Pascal's insights also extend into his reading of the Bible and his special insight into the destiny of Israel. His God after all is not " the god of the philosophers but the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob " Pascal saw the continued survival the miraculous survival of the people of Israel through generations of persecution and suffering as a proof of the existence of G-d. And for that alone I have tremendously warm feelings for him.And this aside from the gratitude of his overwhelmingly powerful and beautiful insights.
This is one of the great books for probing the heart of Man and the Universe. And we should never stop rereading it.
'The Great Pascal'  Dec 3, 2003
This Oxford's version of the Pensees is in some ways superior to the Penguin Classics version. The introduction, by Anthony Levi, gives a much better insight into the history behind the development of Pascal's 'thoughts'. As far as the biography is concerned, Oxford's version gives a much broader span of time concerning Blaise's life.

A lot of people blame Pascal for not being like Montaigne, but that is just foolish. I enjoy Pascal's style because of its originality, and there also seems to me to be a similiar style between both men--espcially in how they both change ideas in a brief span of time. I believe Montainge originally meant to make his 'essays' a collection of expanded sayings and maxims but it took another form, and Pascal maybe wanted his 'pensees' to be his magnum opus by turning it into a large book that would be something like Montaign's Essays. Both men, I guess, envisioned something different from their final product and both of them left a legacy that was fruitful and informative, and their works shouldn't be compared as two competing styles since they are so different from one another in both format and intention.

And after reading Pascal's 'Discussion with Monsieur de Sacy', I was struck by Pascal's shear brilliance. He is a giant of a writer and is one of the cleanest writers I have ever read.


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