You’re Awesome — But Not That Awesome
If you ever wondered what it would be like to read tweets and Facebook updates from a 17th-century genius, check out Pascal’s Pensées.
Born in France in 1623, Blaise Pascal was a brilliant mathematician and physicist, then philosopher, then theologian. Pascal’s Pensées are similar to someone scouring your entire hard drive and all your notebooks, after you have died, for every thought (or pensée) you had scribbled down. Pascal’s family and friends did that after his untimely death at the age of 39. The fragments were rearranged, edited, and published in 1670 as Thoughts of Mr. Pascal on Religion and on Some Other Topics.
Some of his “thoughts” make no sense. “Even [Pascal] may not necessarily have remembered the ideas which prompted the jotting down of some key word or phrase,” wonders Anthony Levi in the Introduction to a new translation of Pensées from Oxford University Press.…