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Blaise Pascal: Reasons of the Heart (Library of Religious Biography)
Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), mathematician, physicist, inventor, and religious thinker was a man at odds with his time. The optimism of the Enlightenment and the belief among philosophers and scientists that the universe was both discoverable and rational made them feel invincible. Reason alone, declared the intellectuals, could discover a God of natural religion that was to ...more
Paperback, 236 pages
Published July 10th 1997 by William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company
(first published July 1997)
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May 03, 2015 booklady rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone who loves Pascal
April 5-May 2, 2015: Pulled this back off the shelf because it is such a good book read in conjunction with Pascal’s masterpiece, Pensées. Pascal was not always the ardent Christian he became late in life. He underwent two conversions, the first one mild, the second a radical experience he referred to as ‘the Night of Fire’. His descriptions of it have a very contemporary feel, intense and compelling. As a result, he became caught up in the religious controversy of the day, the movement called J ...more
After having my affection for Pascal renewed by Romano Guardini's book Pascal for Our Time, I found this biography in our library. It is as much a history of Jansenism as of Pascal -- but it is all very readable and intriguing. The ideas are alive for these people! I have a much clearer picture of Port Royal and of the people who gathered around it. And Pascal himself comes alive as part of this larger story.
This biography about a brilliant mathematician and Christian thinker gave me much more than I expected. The historical and religious context of Pascal's life is explained in detail, and surprisingly leads back to such notables as Moses and St.Augustine. Pascal's short life was packed with passion, achievement and humility.
Pascal's story is fascinating. It's not my favorite writing style for a biography. Perhaps, there's a better biography of Pascal out there. Hearing how Pascal encouraged the Jansenists to hold onto their teachings despite pressure from the vatican left me wondering if Pascal would have ended up a Protestant had he lived when the papal bull was issued condemning his beliefs. But, it's speculation at this point.
Not a bad introduction to Pascal's life, but be forewarned: this is not a beginner's book. The author dives deeply into the details of Pascal's and the Jansenists' theology, so if you're just looking for the basic facts you're not going to like this one. Still, there's a good introduction into his thinking and writing here.
Other Books in the Series
Library of Religious Biography (1 - 10 of 20 books)