Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)
Quotations


The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first.

Man finds nothing so intolerable as to be in a state of complete rest, without passions, without occupation, without diversion, without effort. Then he feels his nullity, loneliness, inadequacy, dependence, helplessness, emptiness.

It is the heart which perceives God and not the reason. That is what faith is: God perceived by the heart, not by the reason.

I maintain that, if everyone knew what others said about him, there would not be four friends in the world.

There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who think they are sinners and the sinners who think they are righteous.

When we see a natural style we are quite amazed and delighted, because we expected to see an author and find a man.

A mere trifle consoles us, for a mere trifle distresses us.

Nature has made all her truths independent of one another. Our art makes one dependent on the other. But this is not natural. Each keeps its own place.

Nature is an infinite sphere of which the center is everywhere and the circumference nowhere.

No one is offended at not seeing everything; but one does not like to be mistaken, and that perhaps arises from the fact that man naturally cannot see everything, and that naturally he cannot err in the side he looks at, since the perceptions of our senses are always true.

No religion except ours has taught that man is born in sin; none of the philosophical sects has admitted it; none therefore has spoken the truth.

Noble deeds are most estimable when hidden.

Nobody is publicly accepted as an expert on poetry unless he displays the sign of poet, mathematician, etc., but universal men want no sign and make hardly any distinction between the crafts of poet and embroiderer. Universal men are not called poets or mathematicians, etc. But they are all these things and judges of them too. No one could guess what they are, and they will talk about whatever was being talked about when they came in. One quality is not more noticeable in them than another, unless it becomes necessary to put it into practice, and then we remember it.

Not only do we know God through Jesus Christ, we only know ourselves through Jesus Christ.

Nothing fortifies skepticism more than the fact that there are some who are not skeptics; if all were so, they would be wrong.

Nothing gives rest but the sincere search for truth.

Nothing is as approved as mediocrity, the majority has established it and it fixes it fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way.

Nothing is so conformable to reason as to disavow reason.

Nothing is so important to man as his own state, nothing is so formidable to him as eternity; and thus it is not natural that there should be men indifferent to the loss of their existence, and to the perils of everlasting suffering. They are quite different with regard to all other things. They are afraid of mere trifles; they foresee them; they feel them. And this same man who spends so many days and nights in rage and despair for the loss of office, or for some imaginary insult to his honor, is the very one who knows without anxiety and without emotion that he will lose all by death. It is a monstrous thing to see in the same heart and at the same time this sensibility to trifles and this strange insensibility to the greatest objects. It is an incomprehensible enchantment, and a supernatural slumber, which indicates as its cause an all-powerful force.

Nothing is so insufferable to man as to be completely at rest, without passions, without business, without diversion, without study. He then feels his nothingness, his forlornness, his insufficiency, his dependence, his weakness, his emptiness. There will immediately arise from the depth of his heart weariness, gloom, sadness, fretfulness, vexation, despair.

Nothing is surer than that the people will be weak.

Notwithstanding the sight of all our miseries, which press upon us and take us by the throat, we have an instinct which we cannot repress, and which lifts us up.

Once that is clearly understood, I think that each of us can stay quietly in the state in which nature has placed him. Since the middle station allotted to us is always far from the extremes, what does it matter if someone else has a slightly better understanding of things? If he has, and if he takes them a little further, is he not still infinitely remote from the goal? Is not our span of life equally infinitesimal in eternity, even if it is extended by ten years?

One has followed the other in an endless circle, for it is certain that as man's insight increases so he finds both wretchedness and greatness within himself. In a word man knows he is wretched. Thus he is wretched because he is so, but he is truly great because he knows it.

One must have deeper motives and judge everything accordingly, but go on talking like an ordinary person.

According to the doctrine of chance, you ought to put yourself to the trouble of searching for the truth; for if you die without worshiping the True Cause, you are lost. "But," say you, "if He had wished me to worship Him, He would have left me signs of His will." He has done so; but you neglect them. Seek them, therefore; it is well worth it.

Admiration spoils all from infancy.

All human evil comes from a single cause, man's inability to sit still in a room.

All is one, all is different. How many natures exist in man? How many vocations? And by what chance does each man ordinarily choose what he has heard praised?

All men naturally hate one another. They employ lust as far as possible in the service of the public weal. But this is only a pretence and a false image of love; for at bottom it is only hate.

All men seek happiness. This is without exception. Whatever different means they employ, they all tend to this end. The cause of some going to war, and of others avoiding it, is the same desire in both, attended with different views. The will never takes the least step but to this object. This is the motive of every action of every man, even of those who hang themselves.

All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.

All of our reasoning ends in surrender to feeling.

All that tends not to charity is figurative. The sole aim of the Scripture is charity.

All the dignity of man consists in thought. Thought is therefore by its nature a wonderful and incomparable thing. It must have strange defects to be contemptible. But it has such, so that nothing is more ridiculous. How great it is in its nature! How vile it is in its defects! But what is this thought? How foolish it is!



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