glyph 372: book ... review of H.F. Stewart's edition, extracted from Pascal's Pensés ... philosophy ... writers . Charles Morgan . art, artists ... scepticism, imagination, reason . skepticism ... critical thought and imagination ... intellectual integrity ... disintegration vs. integration of the human personality . corresponding moral and political systems ...


Pascal — As Seen by Charles Morgan

"his method is, in the noblest and freest sense, humane"

Charles Morgan, in his review of H. F. Stewart's edition of Pascal's Apology for Religion, in the essay titled "The Integrity of Pascal", has this to say of Pascal:

... Those whose intellectual direction is away from Christian dogma or who, at any rate, have become accustomed to approach the problems of their own belief from an untheological angle may still find that Pascal is a present help to them; for, though his argument is for his faith, his method is, in the noblest and freest sense, humane; he is an artist who happens to be applying his art to theological uses, and the language of whose thought is so far from being conventionally pietistic that modern men and women, who are of sceptical mind but not of irreligious temper, find to their surprise that it is their own.

This is the wonder and greatness of Pascal, the origin of his power to be renewed in each succeeding generation. Except the callous and the defensively frivolous, there can scarcely be a mind that will not discover companionship in his - companionship, moreover, of the sort that is to be had only of the intimate giants in whose thought we discover continually, or seem to discover, a projection of our own, in whose lucidities we recognize, as it were, a cipher to our own confusions. A scientific mind has satisfaction in the lovely blending in Pascal of accuracy with imaginative sweep. One may disagree with him, but the nature of the disagreement and the point of divergence are always clear; he does not hedge or fluff. A philosophic mind has corresponding rewards, for, if Pascal's premises be granted, his logic is cumulative and natural, converging from many angles upon the truth. An artist, too, finds in Pascal a mirror of his own purposes — a desire for beauty not as a vain decoration but as a means of truth; and men who are not artists or philosophers or mathematicians, who would speak of themselves, perhaps, as "ordinary men", well knowing in their hearts that they inhabit a solitude of self, find that Pascal has the privilege of entry into their solitudes and of speaking to them in their own most secret language.

... but no one can read Pascal without coming to understand before long that what is important in him, apart from his doctrinal conclusions, is his insistence upon the value and necessity of a quest for truth.

... He is not an aloof lecturer but a dramatist of the soul.

From Reflections in a Mirror (first series), a collection of essays 43by Charles Morgan, published in 1945, easily found on abebooks or alibris. A fascinating series of profound meditations containing much of value for explorers of our own time. If you feel engaged by Beethoven's late quartets you will feel at home with Morgan. —leif smith
February 6, 2007

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