Number 113, in the Krailsheimer edition:

It is not in space that I must seek my human dignity, but in the ordering of my thought. It will do me no good to own land. Through space the universe grasps me and swallows me up like a speck; through thought I grasp it.

This is excellent, though Pascal, a man of his time and culture, sees himself and the universe as distinct. But in us the universe has simply put forth a part of itself: a mirror in which it can behold itself upon awakening.


  1. bob koepp says

    “in us the universe has simply put forth a part of itself: a mirror in which it can behold itself upon awakening”

    Now, combine that with the Bergsonian idea that the nervous system doesn’t generate the beholding so much as filter it…

    Posted December 15, 2008 at 11:12 pm | Permalink
  2. Malcolm says

    Well, if the conscious mind is a property of matter suitably arranged, then in this case perhaps Bergson does not go too far.

    Posted December 16, 2008 at 12:43 am | Permalink
  3. bob koepp says

    Malcolm – I suspect you are not familiar with Bergson’s take on these things. As I understand him, he thought that “mind” permeated the entire world, not just suitably arranged bits and pieces of it. Suitably arranged bits and pieces, like our nervous systems, do not “generate” mind, but reduce the “amount of mind” incorporated into our actions. What we think of as “my awareness” or “me” is a tiny selection from awareness simpliciter.

    I hope I haven’t done too much damage to Bergson’s view. It’s not something I’ve studied deeply, but it is suggestive enough to make me wary of dogmatism about the place of mind in this world.

    Posted December 16, 2008 at 10:53 am | Permalink
  4. Malcolm says

    You’re right, Bob, I am only superficially familiar with Bergson’s work, having been introduced to him by references to his notion of élan vital, which was enough to disincline me to study him more deeply.

    I can see I’ve misunderstood the point you were making. Upon reading your clarification, I must say that it is quite the opposite of the way I suspect things to be, as you probably expected.

    Posted December 16, 2008 at 11:50 am | Permalink
  5. bob koepp says

    Malcolm – I hope that Bergson’s association with one idea, even one that you think is astonishingly bad, wouldn’t prevent you from giving careful consideration to other ideas he expressed.

    Posted December 16, 2008 at 4:29 pm | Permalink
  6. pdg says

    As a proponant of Taoist Philosophy this rings a distinct bell for me
    as in the ring of truth…

    we are all part of the universe and as such are part of eachother and all the other “10,000 Things” that represent any seperation of identity…

    Our thoughts seperate/unite us with the objects we contemplate

    For me it is a matter of Harmony that dispells any seperation when we step out of harmony we seperate ourselves as being apart, another-the other- all that is an illusion on a basic level of existance-

    does quantum theory apply as well? I don’t know. could be…Our thoughts may manifest our reality…

    Posted December 16, 2008 at 4:40 pm | Permalink
  7. Malcolm says


    I must confess that it has had exactly that effect. I should set about remedying that.

    Posted December 16, 2008 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

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