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About the Author: Blaise Pascal

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.

A near-fatal carriage accident in 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 survived. Pascal took the incident as a sign and devoted himself to theology. It was at this point that he began writing a series against the Jesuits in 1657 called the Provincial Letters.

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 life, 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.


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Thoughts, Letters, and Minor Works by

Goodreads rating: 3.88

Hardcover, Published in Jun 2007 by Cosimo Classics

ISBN10: 1602064911 | ISBN13: 9781602064911

Page count: 140

Contents: Thoughts on Mind and Style; The Misery of Man Without God; Of the Necessity of the Wager; Of the Means of Belief; Justice and the Reason of Effects; The Philosophers; Morality and Doctrine; Fundamentals of the Christian Religion; Perpetuity; Typology; Prophecies; Proofs of Jesus Christ; The Miracles. Various Letters. Minor Works: Epitaph of M. Pascal; Prayer; Comparison Between Christians of Early Times and Those of Today; Discourses on the Condition of the Great; On the Conversion of the Sinner; Conversation on Epictetus and Montaigne; Art of Persuasion; Discourse on the Passion of Love; Of the Geometrical Sprit; Preface to the Treatise on Vacuum; New Fragment of the Treatise on Vacuum.

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