Wednesday, November 21, 2012

dignity, humility continued

Blaise Pascal, in his Pensees, on human weakness and dignity...

#347. Man is but a reed, the most feeble thing in nature; but he is a thinking reed. The entire universe need not arm itself to crush him. A vapor, a drop of water suffices to kill him. But, if the universe were to crush him, man would still be more noble than that which killed him, because he knows that he dies and the advantage which the universe has over him; the universe knows nothing of this.  All our dignity consists, then, in thought. By it we must elevate ourselves, and not by space and time which we cannot fill. Let us endeavor, then, to think well; this is the principle of morality.

#793. All bodies, the firmament, the stars, the earth and its kingdoms, are not equal to the lowest mind; for mind knows all these and itself; and these bodies nothing. 

This last statement has sometimes been paraphrased, "We are greater than the stars, for we know them and they know nothing."

Previous post: Schaeffer on human dignity and humility.  

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