Thinking reeds and the ideal of reason

Famously, Pascal described human beings as ‘thinking reeds’, weak in flesh but magnificent in mind. While it is a poetic image, it is also an ambivalent one and may suggest an inappropriately dualist view of human nature. It is important to realise that not only are we thinking reeds but that we are thinking because we are reeds. In fact – while being every bit the marvel that Pascal wondered at – rationality is reed-like itself, very much of a kind with the rest of human nature.
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