In a passaged labeled “Contrariétés,” Pascal said,
Let man now estimate his own worth. Let him love himself, for in him is a nature capable of good; but let him not love himself on account of the baseness that is there. Let him despise himself because this capability is unexercised [vide]; but let him not despise himself on account of this natural capability itself. Let him hate himself, let him love himself: he has in him the ability to know the truth and to be happy, but he has no truth, or constancy, or satisfaction.*
And La Rochefoucauld said,
The imagination could not invent so many diverse contrarieties as there are contrarieties naturally in the heart of each person.**
But Vauvenargues said,
Those who cannot make sense of the varieties of the human spirit suppose it involves unexplainable contrarieties.†
How will Kierkegaard and Nietzsche respond? And Freud and Foucault?
* Pensées §423, labeled “Contrariétés.”
** Réflexions ou sentences et maximes morales, Maxime 478.
† Opening line of Introduction à la connaissance de l’esprit humain.
(All translations mine.)