Pascal and Hobbes'Theories on Behavior and Motivation

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Throughout the course of the first half of the Semester, a main theme in each piece of writing that we have worked with is human’s natural behaviors and motivations. Although Pascal choses a more positive and religious perspective of human nature and Hobbes displays a more negative approach to human nature, both Pascal and Hobbes share similar beliefs in the wretchedness of man, the importance of one single supreme being or ruler, and the effects of being prideful.
In his journal, Pensees, Pascal argues that religion is necessary for human existence because it influences human’s natural behaviors and motivations. He articulates that without Jesus, we would never really know ourselves (Pascal 7). He writes that “…man without God is totally ignorant and inevitably wretched” (22). In other words, we would never know what is good and evil without having God, because without God, we are unaware and ultimately evil. Pascal writes that we can only learn from God; therefore, we can never truly understand who we are unless we believe in God. Because Pascal says that man is wretched without God, he argues that, “Man’s greatness lies in knowing himself to be wretched” (32). In knowing we are born with both original sin and free will from God, we understand that we make mistakes and that we are not perfect, which shows that humans inevitably are great. Pascal writes for people to have faith and to “recognize that there is an infinity of things beyond” (55). There are so many things out there for us as humans and we need to realize that the world God created has so much to offer us, so we need faith to help us understand this. Ultimately, Pascal says, “the past and the present are our means…hope to live…we are always planning to be ...

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... in terms of our society in general, human nature is more similar to Pascal’s depiction. I say this because I have been through nineteen years of Catholic schooling; therefore, I have been around people who typically believe Pascal’s thoughts. I think as a whole, we believe we live in a positive society, where, yes, men are not perfect, but in knowing our flaws, make us good. Even if someone is not religious, we have a president who is a single ruler with power, and lastly, I think people understand that pride can get in the way. In the end, I think the best way to live life is in the moment. Not forgetting the past, but realizing that what has happened in the past cannot be changed; therefore, learn from that and move on. On the other hand, don’t be too hasty and look too far in to the future, rather live right in the moment, and don’t regret decisions made.

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