Blaise Pascal Philosophy Summary

Blaise Pascal: a thought on God, death and passion

Blaise Pascal is both a philosopher, a religious thinker and a mathematician. Pascal is considered the forerunner of existentialist philosophy, developed later by Kierkegaard, Heidegger and Sartre.

His major work, les Pensées (Thoughts), Pascal speaks about the misery of man without God. On the contrary, God, man may be anchored spiritually. Belief in God is the most reasonable party.

What is man according to Pascal?

To this question, Pascal brings, first, a psychological response: he places the man in front of him and consider him as made of void and emptiness. This is the famous thesis of the thinking reed.

– It is the inconsistency that dominates human nature.

– Man is vanity, in the etymological sense of the term (Latin vanitas, vacuum), as this character is hollow and inconsistent.

– Vanity is inked in the heart of man: The self is hateful.

Doomed to emptiness and emptiness, the man not only tastes the pleasures of vanity (everyone wants to have his fans …), but also the prestige of deceptive imagination, the mistress of illusion and error:

– Imagination means a power which prohibits human access to truth and distorts reality by magnifying small things and the big diminishing.

– So are magnified, for example, small objects and illusions of self-esteem, including the old sense and pejorative, as self-love and selfishness.

What is self-esteem? A “love only ourselves and […] only consider ourselves”

Entertainment by Pascal: The struggle of man against metaphysical misery

Distracted by the love of self and the deceptive powers of imagination, man is doomed to bad faith: he refuses to become aware of his own nothingness, he experiences, especially in boredom, painful feeling vacuum caused by idleness or lack of passion is linked to full rest, without occupation or business.

This awareness of his own nothingness, the man fled in entertainment, that is to say, everything that distracts us from performing our miserable condition, inscribed in time and death, everything by which we avoid thinking of our nothingness: play and fun, but also work and activity.

– The entertainment we constantly eludes us and prevents us thinking.

Faith and order of the heart:

But the answer to the question: “What is man? ” is also a religious issue.

– “Misery of man without God, happiness of man with God.” (Blaise Pascal Quotes)

– By faith, man can indeed escape the sphere which is inconsistent and know his bliss.

What does faith means?

– An immediate revelation of God and inner obtained through the heart, spontaneity and knowledgeable intuitive, involved in emotions, real driving force linked to the feeling and grasping God without intermediaries.

We know the truth not only by reason (discursive knowledge, from the universal), but also by the heart, that is to say intuition. In other words, the heart has reasons that reason does not point.

But how to decide the incredulous than entertainment to reach the sphere of faith and divine?

– Here takes place the famous bet that does not constitute proof of the existence of God, but an argument designed to show that unbelievers betting for the existence of God, they have nothing to lose and everything to win.

– If you win, you win everything (eternal bliss).

– If you lose, you lose nothing (a miserable existence, finite and fragile).

– Believing in God is a party very reasonable man’s best interest to bet the Christian religion.

Pascal and the art of persuasion:

It was for Pascal to persuade unbelievers and bring them to God. That was the purpose of Thoughts.

– However, to do this, Pascal has implemented a rhetoric which must say a word (a little later).

– Thus he distinguished the art of persuasion, that is to say, to obtain the support of the mind with rational proofs (rationally demonstrating the truth of a proposition, influencing the intelligence), and to persuade him that it is all in one accept that convincing.

– Certify is pleasing and interest in looking for a match between the spirit of the person to whom you speak and the words that are used.

Rhetoric and argumentation pascaliennes are very subtle. They do not neglect the art of convincing nor accept. They unite spirit of geometry, that is to say, discursive reasoning, deductive and demonstrative, and esprit de finesse, defined as intuition and discernment fair and immediate complex elements

– To lead the unbeliever to God, Pascal has built a synthetic rhetoric and insightful.

By analysis of the drama of human existence and his subtle rhetoric intended to lead us to God, Pascal appears surprisingly modern. It is the language of our contemporary world heralded by the Pensées.


Cite this article as: Tim, "Blaise Pascal Philosophy Summary, February 14, 2013, " in Philosophy & Philosophers, February 14, 2013,

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