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Pascal's Pensees Paperback – April 8, 2013

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About the Author

Blaise Pascal (1623–1662), was a French mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and Christian philosopher. He was a child prodigy who was educated by his father, a tax collector in Rouen. Pascal's earliest work was in the natural and applied sciences where he made important contributions to the study of fluids, and clarified the concepts of pressure and vacuum by generalizing the work of Evangelista Torricelli. Pascal also wrote in defense of the scientific method. In 1642, while still a teenager, he started some pioneering work on calculating machines, and after three years of effort and 50 prototypes he invented the mechanical calculator. He built 20 of these machines in the following ten years. Pascal was an important mathematician, helping create two major new areas of research: he wrote a significant treatise on the subject of projective geometry at the age of 16, and later corresponded with Pierre de Fermat on probability theory, strongly influencing the development of modern economics and social science. Following Galileo and Torricelli, in 1646 he refuted Aristotle's followers who insisted that nature abhors a vacuum. Pascal's results caused many disputes before being accepted. In 1646, he and his sister Jacqueline identified with the religious movement within Catholicism known by its detractors as Jansenism. Following a mystical experience in late 1654, he had his "second conversion", abandoned his scientific work, and devoted himself to philosophy and theology. His two most famous works date from this period: the Lettres provinciales and the Pensées, the former set in the conflict between Jansenists and Jesuits. In this year, he also wrote an important treatise on the arithmetical triangle. Between 1658 and 1659 he wrote on the cycloid and its use in calculating the volume of solids. Pascal had poor health especially after his 18th year and his death came just two months after his 39th birthday. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 196 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (April 8, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1484076206
  • ISBN-13: 978-1484076200
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (47 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,572,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey Van Wagoner VINE VOICE on February 17, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Since this is a Kindle freebie, it is hard to have too high of expectations, but this really is a very basic edition. There are no hyperlinks in the table of contents or to end notes. The good new is that the text was transferred without any obvious errors.

This is taken from the 1958 edition published as a Dutton paperback. It does include an excellent introduction to Pascal and this book by T. S. Eliot.

Pascal is most famous as a scientist, but as with many famous scientists of that era, he was deeply religious and was a defender of his faith. This book was his attempt at a Christian apologetic. He has two main objects, to prove that man is nothing without God, and also to prove by the scriptures that Jesus is the redeemer of mankind.

This was not a finished work, but is mainly his notes that were compiled after his death. As a result, sometimes it reads a little disjointed with some incomplete thoughts and some jumping around.

Overall, he had some profound thoughts mixed with things I would consider trivial. He had obvious Catholic biases (he was French), and spent some time defending Catholic dogmas like transubstantiation. I found this to be an interesting work, but nothing that I would want to re-read for its great wisdom.

I recommend to those that want to read this work to consider another edition that has hyperlinks. In a work like this, I find the end notes to be useful (this edition did have useful end notes, but they were hard to get to).
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19 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Meggy on May 4, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Atheists sometime do, but purely out of context. Christians frequently. This brilliant Mathematician who invented the calculator and barometer and who made significant contributions to geometry by age 13 was a devout Christian. The Penses are thoughts in isolation. I particularly liked his exposition of the Old Testament types. He understood very well the foreshadowing of the Messiah and properly referred to Jesus as the Jewish Messiah. Unlike some of his contemporaries, he revered and understood the Jews as God's chosen people. On other topics, his philosophical dislike of Montaigne and Rousseau. Of course the very brilliant Pascal's Wager which every atheist must consider:

Pascal's wager:

Man: Christians profess a religion for which they cannot give a reason and even declare that any attempt to do so would be foolishness.


Man: What do you mean?
Since God is infinitely incomprehensible. Then understanding him by means of reason is a contradiction in terms.
Is it not because our reason is limited that we should have a limited idea of God?

God is, or he is not.
Reason can decide nothing here. Except to admit there is an infinity of things beyond understanding.
Are you not a skeptic? because skeptics know man has a deep need for certitude,
And a man like you wouldn't be satisfied with less,
Nor dogmatic, because we all know that life is uncertain and in constant flux.
Where does that leave us?
God is or He is not.
To which side shall you incline?
Since this game could be played forever without outcome, you must wager.
Read more ›
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Donna Anastasi on February 17, 2011
Pascal's Pensées is that one book I'd want if stranded on a desert island. It has page after page of short wisdoms each that you could contemplate for days, e.g., within each man is a God-shaped void. I've been working my way through this book for the past 30 years.

This review is included on the new listmania Christian-themed read overs.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By L. Mifflin on June 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Just a quick update on this kindle version -- it now has an active table of contents, as well as links to the notes. Great free version!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Pop Bop TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 25, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I originally downloaded this Kindle freebie in June, 2012, in an excess of new-Kindle freebie-grabbing enthusiasm. Before starting it this week I looked at the Amazon site and noted that the Kindle freebie was reported to be much improved, so I downloaded that. Tremendous improvement. The earlier Kindle freebie had no active notes, no active Table of Contents, and sloppy formatting that ran off the bottom of the page and so on. The Kindle freebie that is now available has active notes, active Contents, and a very crisp, sharp and easy to follow format. So, if you have an old Kindle copy residing on your Kindle you might want to download the new one, which is also free. (You might also want to reload other legacy Kindle freebies, because who knows how many other quirkily formatted books have now been improved.)

In any event, both the old and the new Kindle freebies are based on the 1958 E.P. Dutton & Co. paperback edition of "Pascal's Pensees". This edition opened with a tremendously interesting, illuminating and rewarding introduction by T.S. Eliot. That Introduction remains in this Kindle copy. It is a minor masterpiece of analysis and explanation and sets the Pensees precisely in the context of Christian apology, French literary history, and Pascal's own life. It's actually worth reading just on its own.

As to the body of the work, if you know the Pensees you don't need my commentary. If you don't know them, well this book, between the Eliot Introduction and the sharp formatting, is a wonderful way to be introduced. Some people find the whole work to just be an interesting Christian sidelight while others study it intensely. It is certainly a remarkable and generally accessible work and is accordingly worth looking at. If this free taste intrigues you and you want to look further, there are lots of books that present the Pensees in full with notes, explanations, and commentary.

So, for study or browsing, this is a goodie.
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