Reason, Intuition, and Choice

Pascal is well known to be an early modern disciple of Augustine, but it has not always been sufficiently emphasized that Pascal’s Augustinianism differs profoundly from its source in many ways. The following essay examines his re-ordering of Augustine’s psychology and its implications for philosophy and religion in the modern period. For Augustine, intellect and will are equal moments in the activity of mens, but Pascal is radically voluntarist. For him, the will’s relation to the good radically transcends intellect’s relation to being. This moves Pascal to a position closer in some respects to neo-Platonism. It also prevents him from appropriating Augustine’s claim that the triadic human mens is a created analogue of the Trinity. Pascal drops Augustine’s teaching on this point, with profound consequences for his conception of humanity’s relation to God
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