Archive for the ‘reason points beyond itself’ Category

Thought constitutes man’s greatness…Man is a thinking reed

November 9, 2009

Thought constitutes man’s greatness…Man is a thinking reed. It is not from space that I seek my dignity, but from the government of my thought. I shall have no more if I possess worlds. By space the universe encompasses and swallows me up like an atom; by thought I comprehend the world. So man’s greatness comes from knowing that he is wretched, for a tree does not know it is wretched.

Blaise Pascal

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Human reason… is burdened by questions which, as prescribed by the very nature of reason itself, it is not able to ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also not able to answer.

September 25, 2009

Human reason… is burdened by questions which, as prescribed by the very nature of reason itself, it is not able to ignore, but which, as transcending all its powers, it is also not able to answer

Immanuel Kant, Critique of Pure Reason

How can we prove that we shall die, or that there will be a tomorrow? Yet what could be more obvious?

September 25, 2009

Indeed, how little we really do prove. For proofs only convince the mind. But habits provide us with more effective and widespread proofs, modifying the mind without ever being conscious of it. For example, how can we prove that we shall die, or that there will be a tomorrow? Yet what could be more obvious? It is habit that really tends to convince us, and indeed, it makes us either Christians, or even Turks, or pagans, or merchants, soldiers or anything else. In all of these we have to act upon some faith that lies beyond where ‘bare proof’ will take us…

…so we have to rely upon faith when the mind is convinced of the direction in which truth lies, or to influence the mind when truth seems to evade us. We would be overdoing things if we insisted upon having proofs for everything we did, all the time.

Blaise Pascal, The Mind on Fire (from the works of Blaise Pascal), ed. James M. Houston (Bethany House Publishers, 1997) pp46-47