Philosophy 203 Pascal’s Wager

ideas for thesis.

combing pascal’s wager and mills freedom of speech.

P1: Belief is a reason for an opinion.

P2: Opinion should never be suppressed.

C1: Belief in God should never be suppressed.



How do provisions of Declaration contradict  with principles of Old Regime?

Before the French Revolution, there were the three estates. Under the three estates people were divided by status. This is the main contradiction between old regime principles and declaration of the rights of man provisions. When examined, it can be seen that the Old Regime exemplifies hierarchy and unequalness. The estate which one is in guarantees him/her specific privileges or as in the case of the 3rd Estate, none. Privledges here means legal standing ‘that applied to some but not others.’

For instance the first estate, which is made up of priests and clergy man, was exempt from paying taxes, as was the second estate, to which those of nobility belonged. The second estate also had the privilege of honor, to hold public office, and had monopoly over the mills. 1The third estate, however, was that of the peasants, and they had no privileges.

These divisions of status are not divided by class, as in the first estate there could be clergy men who came from peasant backgrounds, but, there is a distinct separation between the estates.

The Declaration of the rights of man deals directly with abolishing unequalness and hierarchy. The first article states, ‘Men are born and remain free and equal in rights.’ (2) This statement contrary to the old regime where, some people had more rights than others. The third principle states, ”

No body nor individual may exercise any authority which does not proceed directly from the nation.” This statement contradicts the Old Regime where individual authority as in the case of priest, clergy, or nobleman; not as a whole, as a nation, as this statement is suggesting.

The fourteenth provision in the Declaration states, “All the citizens have a right to decide, either personally or by their representatives, as to the necessity of the public contribution; to grant this freely; to know to what uses it is put; and to fix the proportion, the mode of assessment and of collection and the duration of the taxes. ” This statement disputes the Old Regime’s concept of status level tax-exempt citizens. Under the Old Regime it was clear that peasants had no privileges at all. As a citizen of the nation, peasants now have access to all seventeen provisions, opposed to zero they had before.


The Ancien Regime: A Brief Introduction

2.”Avalon Project – Declaration of the Rights of Man – 1789.” Avalon Project – Declaration of the Rights of Man – 1789. Web. 7 Nov. 2014.

Western Imagination 10/31/14

Darkness —- Enlightenment


  • Including Science
  • Including Natural Philosophy
  • Political Philosophy

PH.D. – Doctor of Philosophy because philosophy –basically- used to include all that. & Rationally investigating these different areas.

Newton – Law of Universal gravitation. Law of Supply & Demand – Adam Smith “Wealth of Nations” 1776

Alternative Title for Enlightenment “Age of Reason”

By using the scientific method & applying their reason other scientists can discover other universal laws. Just …. like … Newton’s gravitation.

God is the divine clockmaker. Built gravity in the design. Then he flipped the switch. And THAT’S what turned gravity on.

Group of philosophers from Enlightenment age: Philosophes.

And Locke – Epistemology, knowledge innate ideas. born in you. Locke rejects innate ideas, replacing it with the concept which he termed. TABULA RASA: BLANK SLATE.

Sense experience. Experience written on slate. Build up knowledge. etc. etc. Build image of beauty. Innate ideas (hereditary. vs. Tabula Rasa (is your personality a product of your environment. Where we get – nature vs. nurture.

Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Put this & Newton together – you basically get the enlightenment. We can now start by writing the RIGHT THINGS. on your children’s slates. YAY. Education. YAY. Make universal laws harmonious to institutions. Things will only get better.  Progress. Was a historical development. Not a law.

20 year old American college student convictions. i.e i.e. i.e. i.e.

Western Imagination 10/29/14

Finishing Old World View. The Scientific Revolution. The Revolution is Cosmology. Series of challenges to old ways of thinking in many fields. Focus on cosmology; what was most Revolutionary. Beginning with Copernicus. Had the idea of rearranging things if swapped the position  of the Sun and the Earth. (For coming up with a calendar purpose.) Influenced by Humanism. (Copernicus that is..) Neo-Platonic though. Copernicus comes up with the Heliocentric idea. It is revolutionary because not only does the position of the Earth change, but it is also, in motion. Provides better explanation for retrograde motion. Result of earth and planet moving at different speeds against backgrounds of the stars. Effect known as parallax. Copernicus didn’t provide experimental supper for it (not his forte), Galileo did (the guy was an experimentalist.)

First to use telescope for astronomical observation. Galileo. (He didn’t invent the thing though.) What Galelio did with the telescope was revolutionary. No one else tried looking at the sky.

Everything he saw was the first time anyone else saw it. Everything he saw was support for Copernicus or something that didn’t fit with Aristotle view. Moon – craters- such imperfection were not supposed to be in perfect heavens (moon – celestial object not supposed to have geological, terrestrial features i.e. valley, mountains, craters.)

Saw Medicean Moons. (Jupitar’s moons.) Saw a lot more stars – where could they come from. Jupitars’ moons. Noticed extra stars around Jupitar Moved. Concluded they were moons of Jupitar. In Copernican model Earth is one of the planets. It circles the sun.

Jupitars moons do the same thing.

Saturn – couldn’t see the rings but could see it wasn’t a perfect sphere. Its a revolutionary planet. Where did that come from. Unexpected. Not what Aristotle said.

Looked at Sun. Saw Sunspots. WHAT. Imperfections?? “Blemishes.: On an allegedly perfect heavenly body. Definitely not perfect and unchanging like they said it was supposed to be.

Together Copernicus’s theory and Galelio’s observations begin to destroy Aristolian Cosmos.  

But – still assumed circular motions in heavens. Kepler – kept good records over long time. No telescope but very precise naked eye observations. Used data to calculate orbit of Mars. (Over years Mars that this coordinate, you know, Mars here, Mars there…) Results were Published in Astromial Nova. OMG. ITs not a circular motion pattern thing – its an Ellipse. Kepler – Ellipse. Destroyer of old world circular rotation thought.

This has to be wrong he thought – but no – He’s right.

Ellipses don’t have centers so sun is not at center. Another attack on the old Newton: Fg = G m1 m2 / r2


No longer meant the inherent heaviness of an object, but the force of attraction between two objects. It applied EVVERYWHERE instead of 4 Elements under the moon. That’s the revolutionary part. True in all of Universe. Earth. And Heavens. Not two different Laws of nature. One Law. One single mathematical formula. Everything challenged was revolutionized. Complete turn. Next – Enlightenment.

Western Imagination Notes: Sun King & Medieval Cosmology: 10/27/14

Western Imagination 10/27/14

Finishing Louie (Age of Absolutism) – Moving to Scientific Revolution. Political and Intellectual. Age of Absolutism: Idea rule has power over all. In practice idea was successful, as we see with Louie XIV. Made decision to move court to Versailles. To see in action: A Day in the Life of Versailles.

Absolutism/Centralized Monarch – the kingdom revolves around him. “The road leads to Louie.” King awakened at 8am. Courtiers are reminded that Louie is their sovereign and they are not. The day is structured to remind courtiers of this. Court processed through hall of mirror on was to mass. (Louie is devout Catholic.) This is the time to ask for tax exemption for your territory. The ceiling is decorated to glorify Louie. Detail of the floor – Monogram Script L, for Louie.

After mass, Louie meets with the royal council. At Versailles they grow orange trees, even though oranges don’t grow in that climate. There is an ‘orange room.’ An Orangery – with interior/ and exterior places. Goes to show (Symbolic of) how much effort goes to maintaining this monarchy and literally everything revolves around Louie.

In the Afternoon: hunting or stroll in garden. Layout of garden is rigidly formal. Everything is under control, planned, and this is a metaphor for how the kingdom is run. The pattern in the garden imitates embroidery. It is of the royal pattern. In case we forgot who’s house we were at. The shrubs are high maintained, take copious amounts of effort, and are closely clipped.

Oh Louie, how wonderful your decorations are.

All the water foundations couldn’t work at once; metaphor for how you could have all the power and still be defeated. Also, built tennis court, that’s now a museum.

Evening: After meal, Entertainment: cards, gambling, pool, music, dance, ballet, plays… until 1660 Louie himself appeared in ballet, in a sun costume – hence the same “Sun King.”

Then the king says his evening prayers and undresses. The courtier that gets to hold the candle is like- Regina George of the Courtiers.

Western Imagination 10/27/14

Ancient & Medieval Cosmology.

Aristotelian – Ptolemaic Universe. Before – the old idea. Pre – revolution worldview. Cosmology: Cosmos. Logos: Rational account of something. Cosmos: Order. Chaos is opposite cosmos. Conviction that world had order but appeared as chaos.

Structure. Function. What any cosmos has. Account for these two things. Where they go. How they work.

Ancient cosmology. They believed the universe was arranged geocentric with the earth being center of the universe. Believed Earth was stationary. Everything thing else moves, they Aristotelian – Ptolemaic people said. Believed earth was not a planet. Planet: Wanderer. Their understanding was different. They saw constellations stationary. Planets not stationary because they appeared in different places in the night sky. Correctly believed earth was sphere.

Apparently we were all taught wrong and Pre-Colombus NO ONE BELIEVED THE WORLD WAS FLAT. Yeah, they got it right. They always thought the world was wrong.

They thought space was an onion, a turning onion. And earth was stuck in the middle of it. Sphere of Earth, Sphere of water, Sphere of Air, Sphere of Fire: And that makes up the Earth’s Onion Layers. (The ones under the moon.)

Heaven has Ether. Earth Doesn’t.

Light Elements: Air & Fire. So they though steam and flame rose because they were light. Levity. They would go to the sphere of air, or sphere of fire.

They thought the heavy elements dropped to the ground because they were heavy.

These perceptions lasted as long as they did because they were learned from observed experience.

One thing Aristotle could not explain: Retrograde Motion.

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.

Hobbs Response Both Readings

Every man has equal ability but… it is whether he or she applies the ability that determines its outcome of varying degrees? Hobs says if two men both want the same thing, a steak dinner for example, and only one man can have it, then the two become enemies. The next man that comes along that wants the steak dinner may kill the man who has it, and that cycle will repeat itself. I agree with that.

Hobbs identifies three aspects in man’s nature that makes man fight. Thy are competition, diffidence, and glory. To gain, to defend what is gained, and individual status held. Sounds like Hobbs is talking about war. Without government every man would be enemy to every man. It would be as if each man fought a war with each man he encountered as opposed to societal warring.

Hobbs says men who live in peace do so because they fear death. I think that is interesting but I don’t quite get it.

Right of Nature, is man’s choice to do what he wants with his life. To choose his path? How is this difference from free will? Something that takes right of nature away: Concentration Camp.

‘Law forbids men to do what is destructive to his life.’There is exists a law that states ‘You may not catch a fish by any body part except the mouth,’ but I don’t see how that affects man.

It is unclear to me what to ‘lay down a right’ means. ‘transfer a right.’ Whatever to transfer a right means…I understand that an oath is something that makes transferring a right stronger..because although transferring of a right might be held in a contract by promise….promise is weak; oath strengthens promise. Oath strengths promise by swearing to the God one fears. How that works I am unsure.