PHI 310
Lecture 3: Blasé Pascal (1623 –1662). Introduction
.
Blasé Pascal
was born in ClermontFerrand (France) on June 19
th
, 1623. His mother
died when he was three, and he was raised by his mathematician father, Etienne Pascal.
He is known as a French mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher. Among
his contributions to the natural sciences are construction of mechanical calculators,
considerations on probability theory, studies of fluids (he developed principles of
hydraulic fluids), and clarification of concepts such as pressure and vacuum. Computer
historians recognize his contribution to their field by his construction at the age of 18 of
a mechanical calculator capable of addition and subtraction (one of his original
mechanical calculators is displayed at the Zwinger Museum in Dresden, Germany).
Following a profound religious experience in 1654, Pascal abandoned mathematics and
physics for philosophy and theology.
He formulated Pascal’s wager, an argument for the belief in God based on probabilities.
In 1660, Pascal's
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 Spring '10
 Bykova
 Existentialism, Blaise Pascal, Étienne Pascal

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