Suppose someone you loved lay dying, and the doctor offered to try a new miracle drug that he could not guarantee but that would have a 5050 chance of saving your beloveds life. Originally intending to publish a book defending christianity, pascal died before he could complete it. The wager blaise pascal blaise pascal 16231662 was a french scientist and mathematician who experienced a religious conversion during the night of november 23rd, 1654 at the age of 31. Pascals wager a good summary of the argument by paul saka. Rather, blaise pascal intended for it to be understood within a certain context, and for this reason the wager should be examined relative to its contextual bearings. The wager at the heart of the philosophy of pascal. The wager the question of whether or not god exists has over the years elicited a heated debate among different philosophers with each one of them giving their views of the subject. Before actually reading pensees, i knew blaise pascal and his pensees only from snippets of quotes such as, the heart has its reason of which reason knows nothing and from pascal s wager. In this outline i try to provide students with the necessary background to make sense of the.
Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy pascals wager first published sat may 2, 1998. Pascals wager superb analysis of the argument by alan hajek. Blaise pascal, born june 19, 1623, clermontferrand, francedied august 19, 1662, paris, french mathematician, physicist, religious philosopher, and master of prose. This document has been generated from xsl extensible stylesheet language source with renderx xep formatter, version 3. Mar 23, 2018 but, the wager only works in the way pascal wants it to, if the chances of gods existence is an even split. The pensees literally thoughts is a collection of fragments on theology and philosophy written by 17thcentury philosopher and mathematician blaise pascal. Pascals religious conversion led him into a life of asceticism, and the pensees was in many ways his lifes work. If the christian god does exist, the agnostic gains. It seems just possible that in the latter edition, and also in his biographical study pascal. The wager by blaise pascal blaise pascal, thoemmes about the author early in life blaise pascal 16231662 pursued interests in physics and mathematics. On the one hand, pascal was a mathematical prodigy with a brilliant and curious mind about the world. Explain whether you consider pascals wager a proof of gods existence or. Pascal s wager and moral tutiorism blaise pascal 1623.
It reasons thereupon,and calls it nature, necessity, and can believe nothing else. Pascals wager is the name given to an argument due to blaise pascal for believing, or for at least taking steps to believe, in god. Blaise pascals famous wager was that even if the existence of god cannot be determined through reason, a rational person should wager as though god exists, because living life accordingly has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. He discusses with great wonder and beauty the human condition, the incarnation, god, the meaning of life, revelation, and the paradoxes of christianity. Particularly of interest to pascal was a work of desargues on conic sections. Blaise pascal, a 17th century philosopher, felt this modern malaise of being a stranger in the universe in an extremely prescient manner. Pascals wager is an argument in philosophy presented by the seventeenthcentury french philosopher, mathematician and physicist, blaise pascal 16231662. Blaise pascal 16231662 offers a pragmatic reason for believing in god. James connor does a good job of giving the reader both sides of this conflict. Pascals wager, practical argument for belief in god formulated by blaise pascal. Pascals wager is named after 17thcentury french philosopher and mathematician blaise pascal.
The following is a creative reformulation of the argument designed to avoid some of the objections which have been or might be raised against the original. A critical discussion of blaise pascals the wager essay. It is pascals wager that is being discussed here and since blaise pascal was a 17th century philosopher and catholic theologian, a reference to the bible is quite pertinent and hence your misconception of it being meaningless is faux. Following desargues thinking, the 16yearold pascal produced, as a means of proof, a short treatise on what was called the mystic hexagram, essai pour les coniques essay on conics and sent ithis first serious work of mathematicsto pere mersenne in paris. His theory of conic sections and probability theory are well known. Blaise pascal was a 17th century french philosopher, theologian, and mathematician. For the sources paksal which the hypothesis of a link between a carriage accident and pascal s second conversion is based, and for a sage weighing of the evidence for and against, see henri gouhier, blaise pascal. Pascals statement of his wager argument is couched in terms of the theory of probability and the theory of games, and the exposition is unclear and unnecessarily complicated. Gauth rated it liked it jan 08, klam rated it it was amazing nov 07, thanks for telling us about the problem. Two versions of pascals wager will be earmarked for close examination. Reconstruct pascals wager as carefully as possible.
He laid the foundation for the modern theory of probabilities, formulated what came to be known as pascals principle of pressure, and propagated a religious doctrine that. May 06, 2012 the flaws of pascals wager an argument often used by religious people is that they have nothing to lose by believing in god and that atheists are risking eternity in hell for no gain. It posits that humans bet with their lives that god either exists or does not. One of pascals most famous works was the pensees thoughts, which was published posthumously in 1670. Blaise pascal 16231662 is recognized as a man who set forth a new kind of reasoning as an apology of christian religion. Pascal, blaise internet encyclopedia of philosophy. But if there were three lives to gain, you would have to play since you. And then to make people seek him among the philosophers, sceptics, and dogmatists, who disquiet him who inquires of them. According to pascal, how much can be known about god. One version is a favorite of philosophers, and so it might be called the canonical version of pascals wager. Proving god a mathematical interpretation of pascals wager. Aug 08, 2018 this core concept video focuses on blaise pascals unfinished work, the pensees, specifically on his famous wager about the existence of god. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false. Pascals wager edited by paul bartha cambridge university press.
This is a plausible principle, and one which is employed in some versions of pascals wager. In this wireless philosophy video, susanna rinard harvard university explains pascals wager, blaise pascals famous argument for belief in god. The name is somewhat misleading, for in a single section of his pensees, 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. With the wager, pascal attempted to provide a compelling reason to believe in god based upon happiness and possible outcomes. This argument, one of the most famous from pascals thoughts, hides a real. Blaise pascal was a deeply conflicted man who seemed almost constantly to be at war with himself. Since pascal does not think a sound argument can be given for gods existence, he proposes a persuasive consideration. Blaise pascal was born on june 19th 1623 in clermont in the auvergne in central france. Before actually reading pensees, i knew blaise pascal and his pensees only from snippets of quotes such as, the heart has its reason of which reason knows nothing and from pascals wager. Saintebeuves great work on port royal, especially the second and third volumes, and port royal, by charles beard, b. The implications of blaise pascals wager and his relevance for todays faith introduction on the 50th anniversary of the opening of the second ecumenical vatican council, the holy father emeritus, benedict xvi, proclaimed for the whole catholic church the year of faith that started on october 11, 2012 and will conclude on november 24, 20. The wager by blaise pascal certainly true of every finite number. Pensees by blaise pascal, free pdf, ebook global grey.
Course notes blaise pascal, the wager the electric agora. This argument, one of the most famous from pascals thoughts, hides a real complexity and deserves an explanation. Blaise pascal the wager about gods existence pensees. The thoughts of blaise pascal online library of liberty. Pascals wager expresses the conviction that belief in god is reasonable on the ground that there are no rational grounds either for belief or disbelief, so belief is not less reasonable than disbelief. While many philosophers argue against the existence of god, some hold on to the view that god does indeed exist and gives people all the reasons to. Blaise pascal was born on june 19, 1623, in clermont now clermontferrand in the auvergne region of central france. Pascals wager is an argument posed by the mathematician and physicist blaise pascal to deal with gods existence to help explain here is an illustration. Mar 17, 2016 blaise pascal, a 17th century philosopher, felt this modern malaise of being a stranger in the universe in an extremely prescient manner. Blaise pascal brief biography blaise pascal outline of pascal as a mathematician. Orcibal, in blaise pascal, lhomme et loeuvre, section v. Pascals wager is the name given to an argument due to blaise pascal. Explain whether you consider pascals wager a proof of gods existence or not. Those to whom the life of pascal and the story of port royal are unknown, must be referred to works treating fully of the subject, since it were impossible to deal with them adequately within the limits of a preface.
Blaise pascal s famous wager was that even if the existence of god cannot be determined through reason, a rational person should wager as though god exists, because living life accordingly has everything to gain, and nothing to lose. Pascal s thoughts are as powerful as they are comprehensive. Connor does a fine job of explaining his work on probability, his. The pensees thoughts is a collection of fragments on theology and philosophy written by 17thcentury philosopher and mathematician blaise pascal. He passionately argues for the christian faith, using both argumentation and his famous wager.
Pascals religious conversion led him into a life of asceticism and this was in many ways his lifes work. Since there is an equal risk of gain and of loss, if you had only to gain two lives, instead of one, you might still wager. Mar 24, 2017 in this wireless philosophy video, susanna rinard harvard university explains pascal s wager, blaise pascal s famous argument for belief in god. So far we have discussed a number of arguments for or against the. A critical discussion of blaise pascals the wager in the gambling world bets are made based on odds, the probability or likelihood that something would happen. The rejection of pascals wager brief refutation of pascal by paul tobin. The concept of pascals wager stems from a portion of this work. Pascals wager is usually treated out of context, in a way that distorts the argument and the way that it functions in the larger context of the pensees. Full text of pascal s wager see other formats stop early journal content on jstor, free to anyone in the world this article is one of nearly 500,000 scholarly works digitized and made freely available to everyone in the world by jstor.
But, the wager only works in the way pascal wants it to, if the chances of gods existence is an even split. What logical flaws andor fallacies if any are committed in making this argument. It posits that humans bet with their lives that god either exists or does not pascal argues that a rational person should live as though god exists and seek to believe in god. Yearning for knowledge of absolutes and the experience of infinity, pascal understood that human beings are condemned, like tantalus, to never acquire that which they desire.
If the chances of god existing are one in ten million, then the idea that it is reasonable to give up so many of lifes greatest joys on such a slim likelihood is hard to sustain. If the christian god does not exist, the agnostic loses little by believing in him and gains correspondingly little by not believing. You may copy it, give it away or reuse it under the terms of the project gutenberg license included with this ebook or online at. Pascals wager is an argument for the existence of god developed by 17th century mathematician and philosopher blaise pascal. Pdf on jan 12, 1991, graham oppy and others published on rescher on pascals wager find, read and cite all the research you need on. Pascal argues that a rational person should live as though god exists and seek to believe in god. Goldmann, the famous exegesis of the thought of blaise pascals wager said it is the center of gravity of his philosophy, and acknowledges that the famous argument should be of interest to the libertines.
Pascals wager about god internet encyclopedia of philosophy. Pascal is perhaps most famous for his wager pascal s wager which is not as clear in his language as in this summary. Both men were followers of jean guillebertproponent of a splinter group from catholic teaching known as jansenism. The name is somewhat misleading, for in a single section of his pensees, pascal apparently presents at least three such arguments, each of which might be called a wagerit is only the final of. In his pensees 165758, pascal posed the following argument to show that belief in the christian religion is rational. In the court of law, cases are decided upon by the weight of evidence presented by the respective parties. His mother died the following year, and when he was eight the family moved to paris. The project gutenberg ebook of pascals pensees, by blaise.511 217 101 1024 357 318 1152 702 1515 580 135 986 463 751 874 460 1205 846 737 726 579 673 947 1333 687 1055 1210 810 989 1497 86 890 227 1372 291 629 861 831 1272 742 1381 890 1456 934 813 897