Discours sur les passions de l'amour

by Blaise Pascal

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French mathematician and philosopher Blaise Pascal was a contemporary of René Descartes and was ten when Galileo Galilei was forced to recant his belief that the earth circled the sun. He and Thomas Hobbes lived in Paris at the same time (1640) including the year Hobbes published his famous Leviathan (1651). Together with Pierre de Fermat, Pascal created the calculus of probabilities.

Pascal wrote a series against the Jesuits in 1657 called Provincial Letters, which also attacked orthodox arguments for religion. But a near-fatal carriage accident on November 1654 — less than eight years before his death — persuaded him to turn his intellect finally toward religion. The story goes that on the proverbial dark and stormy night, while Pascal was riding in a carriage across a bridge in a Paris suburb, a fright caused the horses to bolt, sending them over the edge. The carriage bearing Pascal was survived. If this was indeed the hand of God in Pascal’s life, it must be admitted that it was a little hard on the horses! Pascal took the incident as a sign and converted from mathematician and physicist to religionist. That is, he left behind his useful contributions to humanity — research into the natural sciences, construction of a mechanical calculator, development of number theory, study of hydrostatics, and clarification of concepts such as pressure and vacuum — in favor of disorganized musings on religious experience.

Pascal is perhaps most famous for his Wager ('Pascal's Wager'), which is not as clear in his language as in this summary: "If Jesus does not exist, the non Christian loses little by believing in him and gains little by not believing. If Jesus does exist, the non Christian gains eternal life by believing and loses an infinite good by not believing.”

Sick throughout his live, Pascal died in Paris, probably from a combination of tuberculosis and stomach cancer at age 39. At the last he was a Jansenist Catholic. No one knows if Pascal won his Wager.

PublisherMille et une nuits
File size7 Mb
eBook formatPaperback, (torrent)En
Book rating4.1 (25 votes)