Welcome to another edition of Friday’s Philosophical Foray beyond Healthcare! In this Friday’s installment, we ponder Blaise Pascal’s explorations regarding the trappings of Time.
…Pascal says that man has an intimation of perfect happiness deep in his soul but is unable to attain it. Put another way, man longs for eternity but is stuck in time. According to Christianity, this time-conditioned earthly existence is only a halfway house on our way to eternal life, when time will dissolve. We are not naturally at home here on earth, and that is why the present “hurts.”
Although Pascal doesn’t spell out a solution to the dilemma, we can easily draw one. Our happiness depends on maximizing those experiences which help us escape the “treadmill” of life and find a foretaste of the eternal Now. These include aesthetic experiences, being with family or friends, and the act of simply looking at and contemplating the world in all its richness.
Yet at the same time, the mundane practical aspects of life don’t shrink into nothing—far from it.
They become the arena of service and ethics, part of the drama of life where what we do matters for eternity. Western civilization was built and sustained in part on these words of Jesus of Nazareth: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself…Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well.”
Pascal, as serious a Christian as they come, would no doubt have agreed that focusing our thoughts away from the self will allow us to banish anxiety and dwell securely in the present.