Stankavich Saga

Stories of the Stankavich family of Hillsboro, Oregon, USA


Feeling Intellectual

I’m feeling intellectual these days because I’ve been reading works by seventeenth-century philosopher and mathematician, Blaise Pascal.  I actually picked the book up to read during our school basketball game–in case there were slow moments–and I thought a volume from the Great Books series would be appropriately eccentric.  So I started reading Pascal’s Pensees.  Later I took the book home and discovered his Provincial Letters where he imagines a Parisian writing back to the provinces about an ongoing intellectual debate, a controversy between the Dominicans, Jesuits and Jansenists about theological minutiae.   It sounds deadening, but it’s actually quite clever and even witty.  It became something of a bestseller among the elites of Pascal’s day–though also very controversial–and ultimately led to some censuring of Jesuit behavior.  It’s got an intellectual wit  that’s appealing even if  the original controversy is light-years away from one’s current life.

Quick intro to Pascal

4 Responses to “Feeling Intellectual”

  1. December 6th, 2008 at 1:41 pm

    Mike Stankavich says:

    You know, I’ve been thinking that actually going back to the classics and reading them instead of just reading about them and reading the conclusions others have drawn is a good thing. I’ll have to throw a dart at a great books list one of these days. That, or actually find some current interest and trace its origins back through history.

  2. December 6th, 2008 at 2:40 pm

    Laurie Stankavich says:

    I actually started with John Locke last year. I didn’t finish a whole essay, but enjoyed the precision of his logic. That’s one thing I like about writers in the Enlightenment era. They define their arguments in clear and precise language with good analogies. Another writer I’d like to read one of these days is Adam Smith, the economist and another Great Books author.

  3. December 6th, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    Mike Stankavich says:

    Ah yes, I think I’d like Locke. I also recently caught a reference to David Hume that interested me. I may go looking for one of his books.

  4. December 6th, 2008 at 4:51 pm

    Laurie Stankavich says:

    By the way, my mother might be interested to know that the whole Great Books series that I’m dipping into somehow got to our school from Glendale Sanitarium. At least that’s the stamp. I wonder if it was a direct donation or if they traveled a circuitous route to us?