Philosophy 203 Notes on Pascal 10/28/14

Philosophy 203 Notes on Pascal’s Wager


Blaise Pascal lived 1623-1662. He was a physicist, and mathematician…he invented the mechanical calculator, syringe, …and I few other things I didn’t get down. He also gave us pascal’s priniciple, the definition of that I do not know. Later in life he converted to Catholicism. Pascal made a lot of scientific discoveries until his second conversion experience lead him to study theology and philosophy.

“The heart has its reasons, which reason knows not…” A quote from the Pascal reading we read. Meaning, there are things that drive what we believe beyond what we can logically reason. Traditional belief (Socrates thought) is Knowledge minus _____________. (Knowledge minus what??) For Pascal: Belief > Knowledge. Meaning, Belief is something more than knowledge; some sense greater than knowledge.

The reading is read as skepticism combined with the importance of belief. The goal is not that God exists, but that you should believe that God exists.

You can choose to believe or not. No middle option.

There is this chart we drew.

God Exists             God Doesn’t Exist

Choose to Believe             Inifinite Gain         Little is lost

Don’t Choose to Believe Infinite Loss         Little is Gained


  • Is this a good reason for believing?
  • Can you choose to believe?

“He knew but did not believe it.”

Descartes – Intellectual Proof (Knowing) Logically, it all checks out.

Pascal – Going through these motions until you come to believe deeply (Believing)

Something about internalizing that impacts the way you live your life.

“He knew but did not believe it.


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