Update
Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD REFERENCE (www.oxfordreference.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single entry from a reference work in OR for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 18 May 2024

Blaise Pascal 1623–62
French mathematician, physicist, and moralist 

  1. I have made this [letter] longer than usual, only because I have not had the time to make it shorter.
    Lettres Provinciales (1657) no. 16; see Thoreau
  2. The last thing one knows in constructing a work is what to put first.
    Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 1, no. 19
  3. When we see a natural style, we are quite surprised and delighted, for we expected to see an author and we find a man.
    Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 1, no. 29
  4. For after all, what is man in nature? A nothing in respect of that which is infinite, an all in respect of nothing, a middle betwixt nothing and all.
    Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 2, no. 72
  5. A trifle consoles us because a trifle upsets us.
    Pensées (1670) no. 77
  6. Had Cleopatra's nose been shorter, the whole face of the world would have changed.
    Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 2, no. 162
  7. The eternal silence of these infinite spaces [the heavens] terrifies me.
    Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 2, no. 206
  8. We shall die alone.
    Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 3, no. 211
  9. ‘God is or he is not.’ But to which side shall we incline?…Let us weigh the gain and the loss in wagering that God is. Let us estimate the two chances. If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager then without hesitation that he is.
    known as Pascal's wager
    Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 3, no. 233
  10. The sceptical are the most credulous.
    Penseés (1670) no. 257
  11. The heart has its reasons which reason knows nothing of.
    Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 4, no. 277
  12. Man is only a reed, the weakest thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed.
    Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 6, no. 347
  13. Continual eloquence is tedious.
    Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 6, no. 355
  14. The self is hateful.
    Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) sect. 7, no. 455
  15. We never do evil so fully and cheerfully as when we do it out of conscience.
    Pensées (1670, ed. L. Brunschvicg, 1909) no. 895
  16. fire. God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob, not of the philosophers and scholars. Certainty. Certainty. Feeling. Joy. Peace.
    on a paper, dated 23 November 1654, stitched into the lining of his coat and found after his death