Blaise Pascal on Numbing Ourselves to Death

Mathematician and Philosopher (1623 – 1662)

These quotes are a wake-up call for those of us who are comfortably numb:

“Diversion. Being unable to cure death, wretchedness and ignorance, men have decided, in order to be happy, not to think about such things.” (133)

“The immortality of the soul is something of such vital importance to us, affecting us so deeply, that one must have lost all feeling not to care about knowing the facts of the matter… Thus the fact that there exist men who are indifferent to the loss of their being and the peril of an eternity of wretchedness is against nature. With everything else they are quite different; they fear the most trifling things, foresee and feel them; and the same man who spends so many days and nights in fury and despair at losing some office or at some imaginary affront to his honor is the very one who knows that he is going to lose everything through death but feels neither anxiety nor emotion. It is a monstrous thing to see one and the same heart at once so sensitive to minor things and so strangely insensitive to the greatest.” (427)

Blaise Pascal, Pensees trans. A. J. Krailsheimer, (London: Penguin Books, 1966).

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