The point of view from which Pascal repels us is indicated in the common-sense comments upon the Pensées by Voltaire and Condorcet. We decline to stupefy ourselves. Drug yourself with holy water and masses, or be a brute beast. We reply, as the old Duchess of Maryborough replied to her doctor's statement that she must be blistered or die, 'I won't be blistered, and I won't die!' We won't be drugged and we won't be brute beasts. And to Pascal's appeal from the reason to the heart, we answer that it implies a fundamental error. The 'heart' is not another kind of reason—a co-ordinate faculty for discerning truth—but a name for emotions which are not reason at all. Least of all can it claim to pronounce that certain elements in our life are supernatural or intrusions from without. And yet the heart, if we are to use the word, implies something that we must take into account. It represents implicit judgments, for it determines the relative values of different passions and aims, and therefore does, in fact, supply principles which regulate our lives. Pascal's heart, for example, meant a conviction founded upon his own direct experience of the infinite superiority of the spiritual, as he would have said, to the temporal and sensual. Such
Page:Studies of a Biographer 2.djvu/294
This page has been validated.
STUDIES OF A BIOGRAPHER