Questions to Guide You in the Pascal Reading

Questions to Guide You in the Pascal Reading - vision 1...

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Questions to Guide You in the Pascal Reading Socrates seems to assume that the world is “built” on the highest and best ideals. The gods, whatever their “names,” would necessarily follow these Ideals in creating the world, advising humans, and guiding all things. If they did not know and honor the highest and best, they would not be godly. Therefore, the world ultimately fits together, and human life is most excellent and fulfilling when following these same Ideals. (We will discuss this more next week.) Pascal has lost faith in such a vision. He is living in the time when astronomers had discovered the vast, silent universe beyond our solar system. Pascal cannot see how the world conforms to any Ideals, and it often seems absurd to him. When he looks at the universe, he is lost, saddened, and confused. What has changed from Socrates’ time? How is Pascal expressing a modern, scientific view of the world? As a religious person, how does he try to respond to this new
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Unformatted text preview: vision? 1. List some of the dichotomies (pairs of opposites) that Pascal sees in the universe. How do these describe the new discoveries of science? 2. Pascal expresses deep skepticism concerning whether we can ever know the real truth or meaning of the world. Identify several of the reasons he gives for this skepticism. 3. Pascal expresses personal dissatisfaction with the universe. Identify these passages and examine exactly what saddens or depresses him. What does he want from the universe, and what does it lack? 4. How does Pascal view human beings in this “new universe”? • What is their position in the world? • What are they made of, what is their basic nature? 5. Do you find any ideas or attitudes you would recognize as religious in these passages? Any clues to how Pascal will think about religion in the midst of his despair and skepticism? 0a9f923b86b975ce4dde2e4085b3902abba80220.doc 8/5/2007 1...
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