Interesting Definition of “God” by Pascal

“We naturally believe we are more capable of reaching the centre of things than of embracing their circumference, and the visible extent of the world is visibly greater than we. But since we in our turn are greater than small things, we think we are more capable of mastering them, and yet it takes no less capacity to reach nothingness than the whole. In either case it takes an infinite capacity, and it seems to me that anyone who had understood the ultimate principles of things might also succeed in knowing infinity. One depends on the other, and one leads to the other. These extremes touch and join by going in opposite directions, and they meet in God and God alone.”
Blaise Pascal, Pensées

This quote can be rephrased as a definition of God as follows.

God is by definition the only thing in which the extremes of our understanding of things smaller than ourselves and things larger than ourselves “meet”.  In other words is your understanding of that which is smaller than you and your understanding of that which is greater than you meet up in a context that explains both, that context is by definition God, and if your understanding of X is not of a context in which your understanding of that smaller than you and greater than you meet up, then your understanding of X is not an understanding of God.

Questions remain.

  • What is understanding?  Is it the same as mastering something?
  • How does understanding infinity lead to understanding the ultimate principles of things?
  • How does understanding the ultimate principles of things lead to understanding infinity?
  • What does it mean for extremes to touch?

My guess would be the ultimate principle has something to do with how our need to understand and the things we understand are made for each other.  On this view we have an infinite need to understand and there is an infinite universe that both satisfies and frustrates our need to understand.  So understanding the infinite number of things and the infinite number of possible questions and interpretations leads us to an understanding of the ultimate principle — that our soul’s need of mystery and mystery itself were made for each other — and vice versa.

And whatever context explains both the infinite mysteriousness of life and our quixotic need to comprehend this mystery is what is referred to as “God”.  But you could call it “chicken soup” for all it matters.



One thought on “Interesting Definition of “God” by Pascal

  1. Understanding as an elemental subject to be conscious of any thought, nature, situations; all as s phenomen aside to us, for us, inside or ahead us…”Dasein” following to Heidegger premise or a quadratic equation of Blaise Pascal about God…

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