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Pascal, Blaise (1623-1662)
We run carelessly to the precipice, after we have put something before us to prevent us from seeing it.
W. H. Auden and L. Kronenberger (eds.) The Viking Book of Aphorisms, New York: Viking Press, 1966.
Pascal, Blaise (1623-1662)
Man is full of desires: he loves only those who can satisfy them all. "This man is a good mathematician," someone will say. But I have no concern for mathematics; he would take me for a proposition. "That one is a good soldier." He would take me for a besieged town. I need, that is to say, a decent man who can accommodate himself to all my desires in a general sort of way.
W. H. Auden and L. Kronenberger (eds.) The Viking Book of Aphorisms, New York: Viking Press, 1966.
Pascal, Blaise (1623-1662)
Man is equally incapable of seeing the nothingness from which he emerges and the infinity in which he is engulfed.
Pensees. 1670.
Pascal, Blaise (1623-1662)
Our nature consists in movement; absolute rest is death.
Pensees. 1670.
Pascal, Blaise (1623-1662)
It is the heart which perceives God and not the reason.
Pensees. 1670.
Pascal, Blaise (1623-1662)
We are usually convinced more easily by reasons we have found ourselves than by those which have occurred to others.
Pensees. 1670.
Phillip A. Griffiths
It is a well-kept secret that doing mathematics really is fun--at least for mathematicians--and I am amazed at how often we use the word "beautiful" to describe work that satisfies us. I am reminded of a remark by a mathematician . . . who was talking with some anthropologists about early human experiments with fire. One anthropologist suggested that these humans were motivated by a desire for better cooking; another thought they were after a dependable source of heat. [The mathematician] said he believed fire came under human control because of their fascination with the flame. I believe that the best mathematicians are fascinated by the flame, and that this is a good thing . . . [b]ecause, fortunately for society, their fascination has, in the end, provided the good cooking and reliable heat we all need.
AMS Notices
Peirce, Charles Sanders (1839-1914)
...mathematics is distinguished from all other sciences except only ethics, in standing in no need of ethics. Every other science, even logic, especially in its early stages, is in danger of evaporating into airy nothingness, degenerating, as the Germans say, into an arachnoid film, spun from the stuff that dreams are made of. There is no such danger for pure mathematics; for that is precisely what mathematics ought to be.
"The Essence of Mathematics" in J. R. Newman (ed.) The World of Mathematics, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956.
Peirce, Charles Sanders (1839-1914)
Among the minor, yet striking characteristics of mathematics, may be mentioned the fleshless and skeletal build of its propositions; the peculiar difficulty, complication, and stress of its reasonings; the perfect exactitude of its results; their broad universality; their practical infallibility.
"The Essence of Mathematics" in J. R. Newman (ed.) The World of Mathematics, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1956.
Peirce, Charles Sanders (1839-1914)
The pragmatist knows that doubt is an art which has to be acquired with difficulty.
Collected Papers.

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