PASCAL, Blaise Quotes
(1623-1662), French mathematician and philosopher
Amusement that is excessive and followed only for its own sake, allures and deceives us, and leads us down imperceptibly in thoughtlessness to the grave.
Those we call the ancients were really new in everything.
In proportion as our own mind is enlarged we discover a greater number of men of originality.—Commonplace people see no difference between one man and another.
There are three means of believing, by inspiration, by reason, and by custom.—Christianity, which is the only rational system, admits none for its sons who do not believe according to inspiration.
If the nose of Cleopatra had been a little shorter, it would have changed the history of the world.
The last thing that we discover in writing a book, is to know what to put at the beginning.
To repose our confidence in forms and ceremonies, is superstition; but not to submit to them is pride or self-conceit.
Jesus Christ is a God to whom we can approach without pride, and before whom we may abase ourselves without despair.
No man is so happy as the real Christian; none so rational, so virtuous, so amiable. How little vanity does he feel, though he believes himself united to God! How far is he from abjectness, though he ranks himself with the worms of the earth.
Look on little deeds as great, on account of Christ, who dwells in us, and watches our life; look on great deeds as easy, on account of His great power.
Earnestness is enthusiasm tempered by reason.
Do you wish men to speak well of you? Then never speak well of yourself.
Christian piety annihilates the egotism of the heart; worldly politeness veils and represses it.
There is nothing so insupportable to man as to be in entire repose, without passion, occupation, amusement, or application. Then it is that he feels his own nothingness, isolation, insignificance, dependent nature, powerlessness, emptiness. Immediately there issue from his soul ennui, sadness, chagrin, vexation, despair.
We have so exalted a notion of the human soul that we cannot bear to be despised, or even not to be esteemed by it.—Man, in fact, places all his happiless in this esteem.
We sometimes learn mere from the sight of evil than from an example of good; and it is well to accustom ourselves to profit by the evil which is so common, while that which is good is so rare.
Too much noise deafens us; too much light blinds us; too great a distance, or too much of promixity equally prevents us from being able to see; too long or too short a discourse obscures our knowledge of a subject; too much of truth stuns us.
Faith affirms many things respecting which the senses are silent, but nothing which they deny.—It is superior to their testimony, but never opposed to it.
Fashion is a tyrant from which nothing frees us.—We must suit ourselves to its fantastic tastes.—But being compelled to live under its foolish laws, the wise man is never the first to follow, nor the last to keep them.
There is a virtuous fear which is the effect of faith, and a vicious fear which is the product of doubt and distrust.—The former leads to hope as relying on God, in whom we believe; the latter inclines to despair; as not relying upon God, in whom we do not believe.—Persons of the one character fear to lose God; those of the other character fear to find him.
Fickleness has its rise in our experience of the fallaciousness of present pleasure, and in our ignorance of the vanity of that which is absent.
Force rules the world—not opinion; but opinion which makes use of force.
The future, only, is our goal.—We are never living, but only hoping to live; and looking forward always to being happy, it is inevitable that we never are so.
I hold it to be a fact, that if all persons knew what each said of the other, there would not be four friends in the world.
He that takes truth for his guide, and duty for his end, may safely trust to God's providence to lead him aright.
Happiness is neither within us only, or without us; it is the union of ourselves with God.
The serene, silent beauty of a holy life is the most powerful influence in the world, next to the might of the Spirit of God.
Imagination disposes of everything; it creates beauty, justice, and happiness, which are everything in this world.
The incredulous are of all men the most credulous; they believe the miracles of Vespasian, in order not to believe those of Moses.
The least movement is of importance to all nature. The entire ocean is affected by a pebble.
Justice and power must be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just.
Kind words produce their own image in men's souls; and a beautiful image it is. They soothe and quiet and comfort the hearer. They shame him out of his sour, morose, unkind feelings. We have not yet begun to use kind words in such abundance as they ought to be used.
We never live, but we ever hope to live.
Little things console us, because little things afflict us.
Losses are comparative, imagination only makes them of any moment.
If a man loves a woman for her beauty, does he love her? No; for the small-pox, which destroys her beauty without killing her, causes his love to cease. And if any one loves me for my judgment or my memory, does he really love me? No; for I can lose these qualities without ceasing to be.
There are people who lie simply for the sake of lying.
What a chimera is man! what a confused chaos! what a subject of contradiction! a professed judge of all things, and yet a feeble worm of the earth! the great depositary and guardian of truth, and yet a mere huddle of uncertainty! the glorv and the scandal of the universe!
It is of dangerous consequence to represent to man how near he is to the level of beasts, without showing him at the same time his greatness. It is likewise dangerous to let him see his greatness without his meanness. It is more dangerous yet to leave him ignorant of either; but very beneficial that he should be made sensible of both.
The highest order of mind is accused of folly, as well as the lowest. Nothing is thoroughly approved but mediocrity. The majority has established this, and it fixes its fangs on whatever gets beyond it either way.
A tree does not know itself to be miserable. It is true that it is misery indeed to know one's self to be miserable; but then it is greatness also. In this way all man's miseries go to prove his greatness. They are the miseries of a mighty potentate, of a dethroned monarch.
Notwithstanding the sight of all the miseries which wring us and threaten our destruction, we have still an instinct that we cannot repress, which elevates us above our sorrows.
To go beyond the bounds of moderation is to outrage humanity. The greatness of the human soul is shown by knowing how to keep within proper bounds. So far from greatness consisting in going beyond its limits, it really consists in keeping within them.
One of the greatest artifices the devil uses to engage men in vice and debauchery, is to fasten names of contempt on certain virtues, and thus fill weak souls with a foolish fear of passing for scrupulous, should they desire to put them in practice.
Nature imitates herself. A grain thrown into good ground brings forth fruit; a principle thrown into a good mind brings forth fruit. Everything is created and conducted by the same Master,—the root, the branch, the fruits,—the principles, the consequences.
Nature has perfections, in order to show that she is the image of God; and defects, to show that she is only his image.
Necessity, that great refuge and excuse for human frailty, breaks through all law; and he is not to be accounted in fault whose crime is not the effect of choice, but force.
It is not only old and early impressions that deceive us; the charms of novelty have the same power.
Let a man choose what condition he will, and let him accumulate around him all the goods and gratifications seemingly calculated to make him happy in it; if that man is left at any time without occupation or amusement, and reflects on what he is, the meagre, languid felicity of his present lot will not bear him up. He will turn necessarily to gloomy anticipations of the future; and unless his occupation calls him out of himself, he is inevitably wretched.
What a vanity is painting, which attracts admiration by the resemblance of things that in the original we do not admire!
The multitude which is not brought to act as unity, is confusion. That unity which has not its origin in the multitude is tyranny.
Justice without power is inefficient; power without justice is tyranny. Justice without power is opposed, because there are always wicked men. Power without justice is soon questioned. Justice and power must therefore be brought together, so that whatever is just may be powerful, and whatever is powerful may be just.
A truly worthy man should avoid naming himself; Christian piety annihilates the worldly me; worldly civility hides and suppresses it.
Let any man examine his thoughts, and he will find them ever occupied with the past or the future. We scarcely think at all of the present; or if we do, it is only to borrow the light which it gives for regulating the future. The present is never our object; the past and the present we use as means; the future only is our end. Thus, we never live, we only hope to live.
We think very little of time present; we anticipate the future, as being too slow, and with a view to hasten it onward, we recall the past to stay it as too swiftly gone. We are so thoughtless, that we thus wander through the hours which are not here, regardless only of the moment that is actually our own.
Pride counterbalances all our miseries, for it either hides them, or if it discloses them, boasts of that disclosure. Pride has such a thorough possession of us, even in the midst of our miseries and faults, that we are prepared to sacrifice life with joy, if it may but be talked of.
By a peculiar prerogative, not only each individual is making daily advances in the sciences, and may make advances in morality, but all mankind together are making a continual progress in proportion as the universe grows older; so that the whole human race, during the course of so many ages, may be considered as one man, who never ceases to live and learn.
The mind naturally makes progress, and the will naturally clings to objects, so that for want of right objects, it will attach itself to wrong ones.
I have often said that all the misfortunes of men spring from their not knowing how to live quietly at home, in their own rooms.
The weakness of human reason appears more evidently in those who know it not, than in those who know it.
The authority of reason is far more imperious than that of a master; for he who disobeys the one is unhappy, but he who disobeys the other is a fool.
Should a man happen to err in supposing the Christian religion to be true, he could not be a loser by the mistake. But how irreparable is his loss, and how inexpressible his danger, who should err in supposing it to be false.
If we subject everything to reason, our religion will have nothing mysterious or supernatural; if we violate the principles of reason, our religion will be absurd and ridiculous.
Your sayer of smart things has a bad heart.
Those who make antitheses by forcing the sense are like men who make false windows for the sake of symmetry. Their rule is not to speak justly, but to make accurate figures.
When we meet with a natural style we are surprised and delighted, for we expected to find an author, and have found a man.
St. Augustine teaches that there is in each man a Serpent, an Eve, and an Adam. Our senses and natural propensities are the Serpent; the excitable desire is Eve; and the reason is the Adam. Our nature tempts us perpetually; criminal desire is often excited; but sin is not completed till reason consents.
If the nose of Cleopatra had been a little shorter it would have changed the history of the world.
The mind of the greatest man on earth is not so independent of circumstances as not to feel inconvenienced by the merest buzzing noise about him; it does not need the report of a cannon to disturb his thoughts. The creaking of a vane or a pully is quite enough. Do not wonder that he reasons ill just now; a fly is buzzing by his ear; it is quite enough to unfit him for giving good counsel.
There are two peculiarities in the truths of religion: a divine beauty which renders them lovely, and a holy majesty which makes them venerable.—And there are two peculiarities in errors: an impiety which renders them horrible, and an impertinence which renders them ridiculous.
The multitude which does not reduce itself to unity is confusion; the unity which does not depend upon the multitude, is tyranny.
Vanity is so anchored in the heart of man that a soldier, sutler, cook, street porter, vapor and wish to have their admirers; and philosophers even wish the same. Those who write against it wish to have the glory of having written well; and those who read it wish to have the glory of having read well; and I, who write this, have perhaps this desire; and perhaps those who will read this.
We are so presumptuous that we wish to be known to all the world, even to those who come after us; and we are so vain that the esteem of five or six persons immediately around us is enough to amuse and satisfy us.
There is no arena in which vanity displays itself under such a variety of forms as in conversation.
There are vices which have no hold upon us, but in connection with others, and which, when you cut down the trunk, fall like the branches.
It is the contest that delights us, not the victory. We are pleased with the combat of animals, but not with the victor tearing the vanquished. What is sought for is the crisis of victory, and the instant it comes, it brings satiety.
The virtue of a man ought to be measured not by his extraordinarjr exertions, but by his everyday conduct.
Voluptuousness, like justice, is blind; but that is the only resemblance between them.