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Title: Pascal's scale of values
Author: Baird, Alexander William Stewart
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1964
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Pascal's wonderment at nature's immensity, and his insistence on its underlying continuity, attest its value for him. The description of nature as a coherent system knowable through geometry indicates that it is intelligible; but Pascal's failure to develop this conception, together with his opposition to cosmological speculation, shows that he sets little store by any mathematical view of nature. The idea of nature which predominates in his writings is of a continuously active process. Although geometry does not therefore provide the key to the understanding of nature, it remains for Pascal a valuable instrument in the demonstration and discovery of truth. Assertions as to the superior value of ethics compared with natural science point to a watershed in Pascal's thinking. The 'utility' lacking in science is found in "honnetete"; but the fluctuating estimate of nature as ethical norm makes it impossible to determine what value it has in this respect. Rascal himself conceives of "morale" as rightly dominated by man's 'end', for it is its relation to this 'end' which determines the moral worth of any act. Dualism is the keynote of Pascal's estimate of both natural law and justice; and he considers that pursuit of the general good, which should constitute the basis of society, has been superseded since the Fall by "amour-propre". Peace continues as the supreme political value only so long as it tends to security of property. The Church's superiority over secular institutions derives from the socializing agency of grace, which enables men to live together in the condition of "ordre" which "amour-propre" precludes in secular society. The 'three orders' form the framework of Pascal's scale of values - the different orders represent at once categories of value and orders of being. And the relativism which characterizes Pascal's estimates of value results from treating value as a perspective of the orders.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Philosophy