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Pascal And Marx: On Lucien Goldmann’s Hidden God

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Chapter Summary

When Gilberte Pascal wrote her brother's biography, she explained his application to mathematics at that period as an attempt to take his mind off his toothache. Léon Brunschvicg explained Pascal's denigration of science by referring to his failure to convince the Jesuit Noel and Descartes of the significance of his experiments with the vacuum. Both explanations obscure the complexity of Pascal's position: 'One does not show one's greatness by being at one extreme, but by touching both at the same time, and by filling all the space between'. This is not the position of Pascal in the Lettres Provinciales. But, on this interpretation, from March 1657 onward Pascal elaborated a new and paradoxical attitude of which the Pensées are the expression. This interpretation of Pascal is the work of Lucien Goldmann, the Marxist editor of Barcos's correspondence, himself an original philosopher of great powers.

Keywords:Descartes; Gilberte Pascal; Jesuit Noel; Léon Brunschvicg; Lettres Provinciales; Lucien Goldmann; Marxist editor; mathematics; Pensées

10.1163/ej.9789004166219.i-443.99
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