Monday, April 18, 2016

Astell and Pascal

An interesting comment by Jacqueline Broad (in The Philosophy of Mary Astell) on the link between Pascal and Mary Astell:

In another manuscript, she observes that 'Pensées de Pascal are profound, solid, just, full of noble sentiments[,] good sense & true reasoning, clearly yet concisely express'd in proper language'.

In the footnote she explains further:

These words are written in Astell's handwriting on the first flyleaf of Lady Mary Wortley Montagu's personal copy of Pierre Bayle's Pensées Diverses (4th ed, 1704), held in Lord Harrowby's private library at Sandon Hall, Staffordshire. With 'a just Indignation', Astell remarks that, by comparison with Pascal's work, Bayle's Pensées are a 'loose, rambling, incoherent, rhapsody, wth all ye affectation of Method, Reasoning & Exactness, full of words, wth every thing strain'd to a latent ill meaning or else very impertinent, Trifling, or worse.'
[Jacqueline Broad, The Philosophy of Mary Astell, Oxford UP (New York: 2015), p. 57 and 57n51.]

This sort of thing, the discovery of little connections in unexpected places, is one of the things I very much enjoy about the history of philosophy.

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