Stoic News

By Dave Kelly

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Deposed Royalty: Pascal’s Anthropological Argument

Pascal found both Stoicism and Skepticism to be fatally lacking.

"Each system of thought contains a truth negated by the other. Stoicism conserves greatness and rejects wretchedness, thus lapsing into presumption and pride. Skepticism conserves wretchedness and rejects greatness, thus lapsing into despondency. Even though it appears that “there would be formed from their alliance a perfect system of morals,”22 the two systems of thought cannot be synthesized by selecting compatible elements from each system. This is because Stoicism promotes certainty, while skepticism promotes doubt; Stoicism argues for the greatness of humanity, and skepticism argues for the weakness of humanity. Given this incompatibility, each system “would destroy the truths as well as the falsehoods of each other.”23 Neither system can stand alone because of its one-sidedness, nor can the two systems unite because of their mutually exclusive presuppositions. Each view contradicts the other while, nevertheless, offering partial truths reconcilable only through another anthropology entirely: that provided by the Christian doctrine of creation and the fall. “Thus they break and destroy each other to give place to the truth of the Gospel.”"