Blaise Pascal

France
19 Jun 1623 // 19 Aug 1662
Philosopher / Mathematician

Custom Constraints Nature

The most important affair in life is the choice of a calling; chance decides it. Custom makes men masons, soldiers, slaters. «He is a good slater», says one, and, speaking of soldiers, remarks, «They are perfect fools». But others affirm, «There is nothing great but war; the rest of men are good for nothing». We choose our callings according as we hear this or that praised or despised in our childhood, for we naturally love truth and hate folly. These words move us; the only error is in their application. So great is the force of custom that, out of those whom nature has only made men, are created all conditions of men. For some districts are full of masons, others of soldiers, etc. Certainly nature is not so uniform. It is custom then which does this, for it constrains nature. But sometimes nature gains the ascendancy and preserves man's instinct, in spite of all custom, good or bad.

Blaise Pascal, in 'Pensees'
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