Blaise Pascal (1623-1662)


Blaise Pascal was born on 19 june 1623 in Clermont, Auvergne, France, the third of Etienne Pascal's children and his only son. His father, a local judge at Clermont, moved to Paris in 1631, partly to prosecute his own scientific studies, partly to carry on the education of his only son, who had already displayed exceptional ability. At sixteen Pascal wrote an essay on conic sections; and at the age of eighteen, he constructed the first arithmetical machine. In 1650, when in the midst of these researches, Pascal suddenly abandoned his favourite pursuits to study religion. Then returned on mathematics and physics, writing Treatise on the Equilibrium of Liquids (1653) in which he explains Pascal's law of pressure.
He was meditating marriage when an accident again turned the current of his thoughts to a religious life. With The Provincial Letters, Pascal earned fame as a rhetoritician/polemic stylist, which would thereafter greatly influenced French prose. In these letters, Pascal defended the Jansenists against attacks by the Jesuits and the Pope.
Pascal's greatest mark upon philosophy comes from his Pensees, notes which Pascal had intended to use to write Apology for the Christian Religion which he never completed. They were left by Pascal in relative disarry, leaving editors with the work of piecing the notes together into a relatively coherent whole. As a consequence, various editions of the work present the piece in varied order, depending on the editor's taste. In general, Pensees follows two major lines of argument. On the one hand, Pascal argues that religion, is necessary, if for no other reason, then simply because a world without the belief in God would be hopeless and absurd. On the other hand, Pascal presents coherent arguments which argue that the belief in Christ is a rational choice.
Pascal died in 1662 .

- Pascal as a mathematician
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