Nicole is one of the finest French seventeenth-century examiners of the human mind. One can find in his Essais de morale a number of brilliant developments on the characteristic themes of Jansenist anthropology: weakness of reason towards the passions, power of self-love (overestimation of one’s own mind and properties), tendency to flee the truth and take refuge in comforting illusions. But in Nicole’s writings, self-blinding is rarely complete. Besides, men’s errors are due for a noticeable part to a form of inertia of the mind, which can be compared with laziness as described at the same time by La Rochefoucauld. The moral anthropology one encounters when striving to measure the power of reasoning is therefore less unitary than expected.
Keywords: Self-love, Augustinianism, Cartesianism, error, judgment, morals, passions, reason, self-deception