Blaise Pascal, the exposer of the illusion

André Comte-Sponville (Andre Comte-Sponville) - modern French philosopher, author of many books and articles. At age 18, he lost his faith in God and since then considers himself an atheist. His favorite themes - freedom, wisdom, quest for meaning.

Blaise Pascal, the exposer of the illusion

PHOTO Inga Aksenov

Name brilliant scientist Pascal everyone knows at least as a pressure unit or the name of the programming language. He lived only 39 years, but did lay the foundations of several areas of mathematics, opened the atmospheric pressure, formulated the basic law of hydrostatics ... However, a unique thinker Pascal did not do his scientific achievements, and adjacent to them the gift of the writer, mystic and a connoisseur of the human soul. I do not know other people who, like Pascal, would be equal to deeply understand the nature and the man would have been so richly endowed with everything: mind, word and faith. He often denied the right to be called a philosopher - he has invented his own system, and wrote only two books: journalistic passionate "Provincial Letters", calling for a living, sincere faith, and thin, fascinatingly deep "thoughts" - notes issued by friends after his of death. But he did more - realized after Montaigne and Nietzsche, long before the lies and hypocrisy of the world. This Christian or not believe in anything - in anything but God. Everything else - the social life, politics, love - under his piercing gaze reveals our confusion, our smallness, our illusions. Everyone wants to be happy, says Pascal, but no one can attain happiness on earth. "We will never live, but only have a life; we are always supposed to be happy, but it is inevitable that we will never be happy. " Avoid unhappiness is possible only through faith. If you disagree, you have to deal with Pascal. And it is not easy to argue ...

His date

  • July 19, 1623: born in Clermont-Ferrand in the family of a nobleman Etienne Pascal.
  • 1626: the mother dies.
  • 1631: with his father and sister moved to Paris.
  • 1640: proof of the theorem on the tops of the hexagon lie on the conic section.
  • 1642: invents a calculating machine (box filled related to each other gears). She gets her patent from the king of France.
  • 1646-1647: experimenting with the emptiness and the atmospheric pressure.
  • 1649-1653: lives high life in Paris.
  • 1651: his father died. Jacqueline's sister goes to the monastery.
  • 1654: completed a series of works on mathematics.
  • 1656-1657: wrote "Letters to the provincial"; because of them Jesuits vowed to find and throw the body out of the coffin Paksalya.
  • 1658: deteriorating health; He begins writing "Thoughts".
  • August 19, 1662: dies in Paris.

The keys to understanding the

Our greatness and pettiness ...

Compared with the infinite he is nothing, as compared to the non-existence it - all. However, man is superior to the universe, that it embraces: it is above it, because he thinks. The main danger to humans - the desire to forget. Boredom is intolerable for us missing, we can not forget that we will have a non-existence. From this set of objectives that are not valuable in themselves, and that occupy us, give us a reason to act. This is what Pascal calls the entertainment: everything that we do, we do in order to distract and forget. Forget that we are unhappy and that we are going to die. In his later years, Pascal has ceased to engage in science, finding, apparently, and her amusement. The exception, he did only once: to escape from toothache, investigated the properties of the cycloid - the trajectory of motion of a point on the rim of the wheel rolling - and resolved all related problems.

To hear the flesh, mind and heart

Pascal distinguishes three levels of human life: the flesh, where there are power and lust, the mind, where there is evidence, and the heart, where love reigns. These levels are incompatible: the power can do nothing against the truth, and the truth - against the force; and neither one nor the other can not replace love. Pascal conclusion astute and austere: in our world the power always comes out on top, but it is neither an argument (for a reason), any value (for the heart). Man is not the mind and heart of God feels.

At the same time, scientific knowledge is autonomous and distinct from the truths of faith. Pascal was lucky: he experienced the highest enlightenment and reason, and the heart. November 23, 1654 he survived the experience of God's presence, which is recorded on a piece of parchment: "Joy. Joy. Joy. Tears of happiness…"

Putting on the Supreme

It is unlikely that anyone other than Pascal, would determine the rationality of religious belief in terms of game theory. Pascal reasoned that God either exists or it does not. We can not know whether God exists. But we must make a choice, it's a matter of life and death. How did you do? Pascal replaces the traditional idea of ​​the proof of God's existence the logic of betting. When it makes sense to make a bet? When the rate is low compared to the possible gain. Here rate is finite: our earthly life, but you can win an eternity of infinite happiness. As soon as there are "equal chances of winning and losing," and a huge gap between the bid and win, doubt no more room: it is necessary to bet on God. It does not prove that it exists, but it shows that it makes sense to believe in its existence: "If you win, you get all; if you lose, you do not lose anything. "


  • Blaise Pascal "Thoughts. Small works. Letters "AST, Pushkin Library, 2003.
  • Boris Tarasov "Pascal" Young Guard, 2006.