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Pensées and Other Writings (Oxford World's Classics) Paperback – July 15, 2008

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Editorial Reviews


"It is an outstandingly clear translation."--Doug Kennard, Moody Bible Institute

"Excellent edition and translation."--Professor Forrest Williams, University of Colorado

"With its informative introduction, clear translation, and accessible arrangement, this volume would serve admirably in sparking discussion in class and in inducing students to ponder unexpected questions."--(Dom) Pashcal M. Baumstein, O.S.B., Belmont Abbey College

"Very readable. A fine translation."--Professor Michael Boylan, Marymount University

"This is the edition of the Pensees I've been waiting for. I'll definitely use it in undergraduate courses."--Doug Blount, Criswell College

"This is a solid translation and Anthony Levi's introduction brings a definite plus to it."--Catherine Danielou, University of Alabama at Birmingham

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Language Notes

Text: English (translation)
Original Language: French --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; 1 edition (July 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0199540365
  • ISBN-13: 978-0199540365
  • Product Dimensions: 7.6 x 0.8 x 5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #95,012 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

63 of 67 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
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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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Robert E. Murena Jr. on April 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
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
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on October 18, 2004
Format: Paperback
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.
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22 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Hypoxy on October 12, 2006
Format: Paperback
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.
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