by Blaise Pascal and David Wetsel
translated by Pierre Zoberman
Catholic University of America Press, 2021
eISBN: 978-0-8132-3346-8 | Paper: 978-0-8132-3345-1

Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) was a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher, who laid the foundation for the modern theory of probabilities. The Pensées are made up of some 800 fragments, that have proven to be an enduring masterpiece since their initial publication in 1670.

This volume is a translation of Philippe Sellier’s edition of Pascal’s Pensées, in addition to two shorter texts, the Exchange with M. de Sacy and The Life of Monsieur Pascal by Pascal’s sister, Gilberte Périer. In addition to a Preface and an Introduction, there is a comprehensive apparatus criticus. The text was originally produced by a team of international Pascal scholars, who translated individual sections and was revised by the General Editor. The introduction situates the Sellier edition in the history of Pascal scholarship and highlights the advance its reordering of the fragments and of the folders or bundles represents, both the translation itself and the notes allow for a deeper reading of the text. It not only gives English readers a version of the authoritative Sellier edition of the collection of reflections known as The Pensées, it also proposes material which help assess the philosopher’s significance and the originality of his thought.

On the whole, this translation gives a comprehensive view of the progress of Pascal’s intended Apology of the Christian Religion as well as of other writings on related topics. It also provides today’s readers with a challenging set of arguments, prayer, and quotations from Scripture, and even the record of a mystical experience, known as the Memorial. It highlights all facets of Pascal’s genius, his familiarity with Scripture combined with a talent for controversy, irony mixed with fervor, and altogether the production of an intriguing and challenging writer and thinker.
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