Pensées (French for “thoughts”) is the title of Blaise Pascal’s most famous philosophical work. In it, he very briefly comments on a wide range of philosophical topics, from ethics and aesthetics to epistemology and philosophy of religion. He does so in a way that gives the impression that he is thinking aloud, perhaps in a conversation with a close friend (hence the befitting title). The lack of elaborate technical style combined with his depth of thought makes Pascal’s work particularly attractive for all those who wish to reflect deeply on momentous questions without having to pore over big philosophical tomes.
What this website has in common with the Pensées is the following:
- the ‘small, digestible bits’ approach
- the rough, spontaneous, yet-to-be-honed character of the thoughts
- its proposing a Christian worldview
In fact, the articles are mostly just a spelling out of episodical thoughts that sprang to my mind when reflecting on personal experiences, philosophical puzzles, books, films or of course Christianity with all its ramifications.
Why the division into ‘Truth’, ‘The Good’ and ‘Beauty’?
Because a structure is indispensable to make a multitude of diverse thoughts accessible, and because the division into these three so-called ‘transcendentals’ reflects the nature of the overall topic at hand best. After all, my desire is to deliver “thoughts about how things in the broadest possible sense of the term hang together in the broadest possible sense of the term”.
Many medieval (and many contemporary) philosophers hold that all things that exist have the four transcendentals:
Being is simply existence, or call it ‘reality’. Being is what is there. Everything that can be said or written is necessarily about being. It is the sine qua non of all our endeavors, and in a way it is translucent: we see and do everything through it, but we don’t see it. I therefore left it out from the list of categories.
Truth is what can be said and thought about these existing things; said and thought in such a way that it corresponds to reality.
Goodness is the value of the things (we usually make a distinction in moral and non-moral goodness, but that is unimportant here), which of course strictly depends on the way the things are (being), which in turn we express in true sentences about them (truth).
Beauty, finally, might be paraphrased as ‘experienced goodness’. The beauty of a thing thus depends on its goodness, which in turn depends on its truth, which depends on its being.
I am a philosopher and scientist (biology and chemistry). As C.S. Lewis said, I believe in Christ “as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else”.
You can find out more about my work