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Journal of Early Modern Studies

Volume 3, Issue 2, Fall 2014

Tamás Pavlovits
Pages 54-67
DOI: 10.5840/jems20143214

L’interprétation de l’infini pascalien et cartésien dans La Logique ou l’Art de penser

The authors of the Logique ou l’Art de penser, Arnauld and Nicole, declare that their work is based on the thinking of Descartes and Pascal. However, it is not easy to reconcile the differences between the two thinkers. Several commentators claim that the aim to harmonize produces a tension in the Logique. In this paper I analyse how the Cartesian and Pascalian conceptions of the infinite are being harmonised by Arnaud and Nicole. I argue that they are able to reconcile the differences of Descartes’ and Pascal’s notions of the infinite in an apologetic context. Although Pascal and Descartes use and define the infinite differently, they agree that the infinite is evident and incomprehensible at the same time. Arnauld et Nicole use this characteristic of the infinite in an apologetic context. The basis of my analysis lies in three axioms that the Logique names “axioms of belief.” In these axioms the infinite functions to limit the uses of reason and to show with evidence that something exists beyond the borders of rational knowledge.

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