The Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization (AHI) congratulates Senior Fellow Ann Hartle, professor emeritus of philosophy at Emory University, on the publication of “Pascal in the Post-Christian World” in the winter, 2017, issue of the intellectual journal Modern Age. “Prufrock,” an email newsletter devoted to books, arts, and ideas and published by The Weekly Standard, featured Hartle’s piece as “Essay of the Day.”  She adapted it from her Pascal Day Lecture delivered at Duquesne University in March 2016.

Hartle asks how we have reached a point in which the West seems unable to make a moral defense against the force of militant Islam. She offers that the seventeenth-century philosopher Blaise Pascal, a seventeenth-century French mathematician and philosopher, is “uniquely suited to help us understand why things are the way they are, for us, in our own time.”  He helps us to see the importance of recognizing “our inheritance of sacred tradition.”  Although Pascal “acknowledges the legitimacy of the political realm, he holds that the Church must be superior to the State in matters of morality and free to exercise its spiritual authority.  Christianity leaves space for personal freedom that Islam, which seeks to unite church and state, does not.

Hartle , the author of Montaigne and the Origins of Modern Philosophy (2013) is currently working on a book on recovering civility.

By Mary Grabar, AHI Resident Fellow