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Pascal's Pensées by Blaise Pascal
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It might seem that about Blaise Pascal, and about the two works on which
his fame is founded, everything that there is to say had been said. The
details of his life are as fully known as we can expect to know them;
his mathematical and physical discoveries have been treated many times;
his religious sentiment and his theological views have been discussed
again and again; and his prose style has been analysed by French critics
down to the finest particular. But Pascal is one of those writers who
will be and who must be studied afresh by men in every generation. It is
not he who changes, but we who change. It is not our knowledge of him
that increases, but our world that alters and our attitudes towards it.
The history of human opinions of Pascal and of men of his stature is a
part of the history of humanity. That indicates his permanent

The facts of Pascal's life, so far as they are necessary for this brief
introduction to the _Pensées_, are as follows. He was born at Clermont,
in Auvergne, in 1623. His family were people of substance of the upper
middle class. His father was a government official, who was able to
leave, when he died, a sufficient patrimony to his one son and his two
daughters. In 1631 the father moved to Paris, and a few years later took
up another government post at Rouen. Wherever he lived, the elder Pascal
seems to have mingled with some of the best society, and with men of
eminence in science and the arts. Blaise was educated entirely by his
father at home. He was exceedingly precocious, indeed excessively
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