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Christianity for Modern Pagans: PASCAL's Pensees Edited, Outlined, and Explained Paperback – September 1, 1993
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First of all, there was a philosophical movement in Europe at the turn of the 18th century called the Enlightenment. No single wave of thought can take as much credit for influencing the modern world as the Enlightenment. That movement was a tidal wave that swept up every major philosopher for the last three hundred years. Pascal was one of the only thinkers not swept up in the powerful riptides of that "revolution." One of my favorite quotes in the book is that Enlightenment tries to do "life itself as a science." Yet Pascal knew that man was not the measure of all things, but a twisted contradiction of greatness and wretchedness. Herein I believe, lies much of his insight; he is not a strict Enlightenment idealist.
Rather, Pascal is a philsophical and theological realist who brought his bluntness and passion to the fields not only of philosophy, but science and math. Pascal was fortunate enough to brandish insights in all of these disciplines. My favorite parts of his thought, however, correspond to his philosophy.
These insights were the "Pensees," his thoughts. I think every Christian should know "The Wager" argument by heart. It is brilliant. Everything to lose and everything to gain; life often revolves around the choices we make and the corresponding benefits or harms that result.
Pascal is almost what you get when you try to blend the strengths of Augustine and Aquinas; a passionate minister (Augustine) mixed with the masterful logic of the Summa (Aquinas) rolled into one neat package. He was not a Cartesian dualist who saw mind and body as separate.Read more ›
I thought it would be helpful to give a rather random example of how Kreeft takes one of the Pensees and expounds on it:
Pascal: Nothing presented to the soul is simple, and the soul never applies itself simply to any subject. That is why the same thing makes us laugh and cry.
Kreeft: This is why life is neither a tragedy nor a comedy but a tragicomedy. If we do not both laugh and cry at life, we do not understand it. ...People are never simple. They are good-and-evil, happy-and-wretched. We are also flesh-and-spirit. God is not simply either. He is one-and-three, person-and-nature, just-and-merciful, eternal-and-dynamic, transcendent-and-immanent. Only abstractions are simple. The only language with no ambiguity, no analogy and no poetry is mathematics. That's why it's the only language computers can "understand": it doesn't require understanding at all.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Incredibly insightful and inspiring book. I've actually read it 3 times in last 6-7 yrs.Published 4 months ago by Thomas A.
This one attempts to address the great questions of human existence in an understand able way.Published 5 months ago by Bike Dude
Although the Pensees were written prox 350 Years ago, they are along with the excellent commentary, an excellent vehicle for today's believer in Jesus Christ to help in the... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Janice Blalock
Another of Peter Kreeft's great books. Very well written and easy to understand for all.Published 8 months ago by MLM
I was originally looking for a good English translation of Pascal’s Pensees to read when I came across this book. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Clif
This is Peter Kreeft’s abridged commentary on Blaise Pascal’s Pensees. How shall one evaluate this? Read morePublished 9 months ago by Jacob