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Mind on Fire : A Faith for the Skeptical and Indifferent (Classics of Faith and Devotion)

Mind on Fire : A Faith for the Skeptical and Indifferent 
by Blaise Pascal, James M. Houston (Editor), OS Guinness (Introduction)

 

Christianity for Modern Pagans : Pascal's Pensees

Christianity for Modern Pagans : Pascal's Pensees
by Peter Kreeft 

Blaise Pascal  1623 - 1662

bulletTexts:  Blaise Pascal
bulletTexts:  Pensees
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Pascal Biography

Site maintained by Ireland's Trinity College features a biography of the famous French mathematician.  From `A Short Account of the History of Mathematics' (4th edition, 1908) by W. W. Rouse Ball.

Excerpt:

Among the contemporaries of Descartes none displayed greater natural genius than Pascal, but his mathematical reputation rests more on what he might have done than on what he actually effected, as during a considerable part of his life he deemed it his duty to devote his whole time to religious exercises.

Blaise Pascal was born at Clermont on June 19, 1623, and died at Paris on Aug. 19, 1662. His father, a local judge at Clermont, and himself of some scientific reputation, 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. Pascal was kept at home in order to ensure his not being overworked, and with the same object it was directed that his education should be at first confined to the study of languages, and should not include any mathematics. This naturally excited the boy's curiosity, and one day, being then twelve years old, he asked in what geometry consisted. His tutor replied that it was the science of constructing exact figures and of determining the proportions between their different parts. Pascal, stimulated no doubt by the injunction against reading it, gave up his play-time to this new study, and in a few weeks had discovered for himself many properties of figures, and in particular the proposition that the sum of the angles of a triangle is equal to two right angles. I have read somewhere, but I cannot lay my hand on the authority, that his proof merely consisted in turning the angular points of a triangular piece of paper over so as to meet in the centre of the inscribed circle: a similar demonstration can be got by turning the angular points over so as to meet at the foot of the perpendicular drawn from the biggest angle to the opposite side. His father, struck by this display of ability, gave him a copy of Euclid's Elements, a book which Pascal read with avidity and soon mastered.

 

Pascal Biography

From the Catholic Encyclopedia

Excerpt:

Born at Clermont-Ferrand, 19 June 1623; died in Paris, 19 August 1662. He was the son of Etienne Pascal, advocate at the court of Aids of Clermont, and of Antoinette Bégon. His father, a man of fortune, went with his children (1631) to live in Paris. He taught his son grammar, Latin, Spanish, and mathematics, all according to an original method. In his twelfth year Blaise composed a treatise on the communication of sounds; at sixteen another treatise, on conic sections. In 1639 he went to Rouen with his father, who had been appointed intendant of Normandy, and, to assist his father in his calculations, he invented the arithmetical machine. He repeated Torricelli's vacuum experiments and demonstrated, against Père Noël, the weight of air (cf. Mathiew, "Revue de Paris", 1906; Abel Lefranc "Revue Bleue", 1906; Strowski, "Pascal", Paris, 1908). He published works on the arithmetical triangle, on wagers and the theory of probabilities, and on the roulette or cycloid.

 

Pascal Biography

This site is from Great Voyages in the History of Philosophy.

Excerpt:

Pascal was a child prodigy, who was educated by his father. He was a mathematician of the first order. At 16 he wrote the Essai pour les coniques which was published in 1640. In 1642 he invented a calculating machine to help his father, who served as Royal Tax Commissioner at Rouen. Pascal is often credited with the discovery of the mathematical theory of probability, and he also made serious contributions to number theory and geometry.

This site includes a timeline.

 

Pascal Biography

From the Mac Tutor History of Mathematics Archive.

Excerpt:

Blaise Pascal was the third of Etienne Pascal's children and his only son. Blaise's mother died when he was only three years old. In 1632 the Pascal family, Etienne and his four children, left Clermont and settled in Paris. Blaise Pascal's father had unorthodox educational views and decided to teach his son himself. Etienne Pascal decided that Blaise was not to study mathematics before the age of 15 and all mathematics texts were removed from their house. Blaise however, his curiosity raised by this, started to work on geometry himself at the age of 12. He discovered that the sum of the angles of a triangle are two right angles and, when his father found out, he relented and allowed Blaise a copy of Euclid.

 

Pascal Biography

From the History Guide.

Excerpt:

The French mathematician, theologian, physicist and man-of-letters, Blaise Pascal, was born June 19 at Clermont-Ferrand, the son of the local president of the court of exchequer. Pascal's mother died in 1630 and the family moved to Paris, where his father, a prominent mathematician, personally undertook his children's education. Unlike the famous education of John Stuart Mill, the young Pascal was not allowed to begin a subject until his father thought he could easily master it. Consequently it was discovered that the eleven year old boy had worked out for himself in secret the first twenty-three propositions of Euclid, calling straight lines "bars" and circles "rounds."

 

Existentialism and Pascal

By Katharena Eiermann

17th French thinker, mathematician, scientist, and author of the Pensees. Online texts, together with biography and related links.

 

Online Pascal Texts

bulletPensees 
bulletPensees 
bulletPensees 
bulletThe Provincial Letters 
bulletThe Provincial Letters 
bulletThe Provincial Letters 
bulletThe Provincial Letters 

 

AITLC Guide for Blaise Pascal

From the Access Indiana Teaching and Learning Center.  

site Includes:

bulletThe European Enlightenment (Washington State University)
bulletABU- la Bibliothèque Universelle
bulletGreat Books Index
bulletPensees (Washington State University)

 

Pascal's Wager

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.  

Excerpt:

"Pascal's Wager" is the name given to an argument due to Blaise Pascal for believing, or for at least taking steps to believe, in God. The name is somewhat misleading, for in a single paragraph of his Pensées, Pascal apparently presents at least three such arguments, each of which might be called a `wager'---it is only the final of these that is traditionally referred to as "Pascal's Wager". We find in it the extraordinary confluence of several strands in intellectual thought: the justification of theism; probability theory and decision theory, used here for almost the first time in history; pragmatism; voluntarism (the thesis that belief is a matter of the will); and the use of the concept of infinity...

 

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