Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Often-Misquoted Pascal: Vacuum or Abyss?

Pascal is often misquoted as saying something about a "God-shaped vacuum" in each of us. This misquotation probably got started because of Pascal's scientific work on the vacuum. The actual quote has much more depth, offering echoes of Augustine later developed in C.S. Lewis's argument from longing and desire ...

"What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is empty print and trace? This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself." -Pascal, Pensees (148/428)

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