I am reading the book Pensées, and I can't understand a paragraph. Please help me review it.

The difference between the mathematical and the intuitive mind.—In the one, the principles are palpable, but removed from ordinary use; so that for want of habit it is difficult to turn one's mind in that direction: but if one turns it thither ever so little, one sees the principles fully, and one must have a quite inaccurate mind who reasons wrongly from principles so plain that it is almost impossible they should escape notice.

My understanding of this paragraph is that the writer wants to tell us the mathematical mind is not for ordinary use, and it is difficult to turn one's mind in a mathematical way because of the habit. (If this is wrong, please correct me.) The sentences after that ("but if one turns it thither ever so little...") is the part I didn't understand.

What exactly does "inaccurate mind" mean in this context?

Edit: One more question. What are the plain principles that anyone cannot escape?

  • 2
    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about an archaic translation. Get a more up-to-date one. Mar 29, 2014 at 14:28
  • Forgive me poor English. I just want to understand it . Because someone recommend this good book to me . Please help me to understand it .I guarantee I am not for commercial translation or something like that . I just an programmer coder . you can see my profile in stack overflow. thanks.
    – Joe.wang
    Mar 29, 2014 at 14:47
  • I think if you don't find a more modern translation you'll be asking questions here for every other paragraph. Which will make it difficult for you to understand the overall flow, since you'll constantly be distracted by strange language which will not help you much in terms of improving your command of contemporary English. Mar 29, 2014 at 15:37
  • ok. Thanks your continually focus on my post. I will take your suggestion to do right things . and It is necessary to learning . Thanks .
    – Joe.wang
    Mar 29, 2014 at 16:06
  • So this is a post that is approriate here in ELU, but not in ELL? Just trying to get the distinction down... Mar 29, 2014 at 16:39

1 Answer 1


"...but if one turns it thither ever so little..."


"...but if one turns it even slightly in that direction.."

BTW the direction spoken of isn't towards "the mathematical way", as you assumed, but towards "ordinary use".

  • Please help me understand the following the sentences. thanks. +1
    – Joe.wang
    Mar 29, 2014 at 14:49
  • Ok. Good .It sounds better understanding for me...
    – Joe.wang
    Mar 29, 2014 at 14:51
  • Firstly thanks your help before. I had Updated my post. Please help to review it . thanks.
    – Joe.wang
    Mar 29, 2014 at 14:57
  • The "inaccurate mind" he's talking about is the kind of mind that failed to see principles that are embedded in "ordinary use", because those principles are in plain sight. BTW you shouldn't amend a post such as to change the text that you're quoting from. Change your own text, by all means, but leave the author's text in its original form. Mar 29, 2014 at 15:04
  • Ok, Could you please help to edit it ? If you could help me .It will be appreciated. thanks.
    – Joe.wang
    Mar 29, 2014 at 15:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.