blaise pascal

I have often said that man's unhappiness arises from one thing alone: that he cannot remain quietly in his room.


That is why play and the conversation of women, war, and high offices are so sought after. Not that in fact they bring happiness, or that we imagine true bliss to consist in money won at games or in the hares that are hunted; we would not accept these if they were given to us. We do not seek that easy and peaceful life that allows us to think about our unhappy condition, nor the dangers of war, nor the burdens of office, but the bustle that turns our thoughts away and diverts us. --Reason why we prefer the hunt to the kill.
That is why men so love noise and activity. That is why jail is such a horrible punishment. That is why the pleasure of solitude is incomprehensible. In fact, the greatest source of happiness in being a king is that people constantly try to divert him and to procure for him every kind of pleasure. The king is surrounded by people who think only of diverting the king and of preventing him from thinking about himself. For, though he is king, he is unhappy if he thinks about himself.
This is all men men have been able to devise to make themselves happy. Those who philosophize about it, and who think people are quite unreasonable to spend a whole day chasing a hare they would not have bought, scarcely know our nature. The hare does not save us from the sight of death and the miseries distracting us, but the hunt does.


A man lives his life free from boredom, playing every day for a small amount. Give him every morning the money he can win that day, on the condition that he does not play: you make him unhappy. You may say perhaps that he seeks the entertainment of play and not the winnings. Make him, then, play for nothing. He will not get excited about it and will be bored. It is not, therefore, only the amusement he seeks. A weak and passionless amusement will bore him. He must get excited about it and trick himself into imagining that he would be happy to win what he would not accept on the condition of not playing. He must fashion for himself an object of passion to excite his desire, his anger, his fear for the fashioned object, like children who become frightened by the face they have darkened.


  1. I think Pascal is my favorite philosopher of all time.

  2. Honestly, I think Pascal here is exaggerating a bit... there is something to be said for the beauty of Man's labor under the sun. Yes, solitude and time for reflection is necessary, but work has its place, too.


  3. In other words, in blue collar terms: "Get your ass out there and break a sweat, bub."