Je soutiens: On Contemplating our Blindness and Wretchedness

On contemplating our blindness and wretchedness, and on observing the whole of the silent universe, and humanity with no light abandoned to itself, lost in this nook of the universe not knowing who put us there, what we have come to achieve, what will become of us when we die, incapable of all knowledge, I become frightened, like someone taken in his sleep to a terrifying, deserted island who wakes up with no knowledge of what has happened, nor means of escape

So wrote Blaise Pascal in his famous Pensées (1669). His analogy here is with existence, and the quest for meaning in life, and this image of being stranded on a desert island without answers is one which led him to frustration and fear, but which sent Montaigne down the path of relaxed scepticism. Here we have two contrasting responses to the same timeless mystery. Read the rest of this entry »