Commentaries on the Exhibit’s Works




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A brief commentary prepared by Fred W. Jenkins, PhD, Professor and Associate Dean for Collections and Operations, University Libraries, on the following work:

Blaise Pascal
Paris, 1670; first edition


When Blaise Pascal died in 1662, he left behind a considerable amount of unpublished material. In 1670, his nephew Périer and a group of distinguished Jansenists collected Pascal’s meditations into this volume. Pascal’s meditations are neither a mere defense of orthodoxy nor an appeal to faith; though his thoughts may attack rationalism as seen in the work of Descartes or skepticism as typified by Montaigne, he states his case with the reasoning methods of Descartes and the style of Montaigne.

Pascal goes beyond the scope of natural theology to explain the contradictions and vicissitudes of human experience entirely in terms of faith and revelation, the one justifying the other. Since they are only notes—unfinished—conclusions are not always reached, yet it has the marks of genius. It is a book for which we have solid reason to be grateful, from its first imperfect publication to the present day.

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Pascal: ‘Pensées’


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