Descartes and pascal a comparison of the lives philosophy and religion in the 17th century and beyond
As a tedious task, it requires arduous preparation and reading and needs the highest level of attention to the details in each section and subheading. All key aspects and potential questions asked by the readers must be fully answered and tackled with keen analysis to ensure a satisfied audience to not only the writer’s academic might but also the demands of academic ingenuity. With this in mind, the following work endeavors to take pains and pleasure to showcase the subtle differences between the many aspects of similarities and differences between two of the most renowned figures in history. They stand out for their genius interpretations and inventions which helped educate and power the modern world. As such, they portray a wide array of similarities which stretch far and wide as it is a common adage that they are both influential figures to many sects in society, and globally.
Pascal for his part, made enormous strides as a philosopher in theology as well as showcasing a brilliant mind in mathematics. His use of reason to explain his mathematical discoveries has been useful to the modern times as new inventions and formulas get named after him. Markedly, this is no small feat. The level of ingenuity expressed by Pascal as well as the high degree of intuition to stand his ground and firmly express his beliefs is particularly astounding. He comes off as a person who is strictly against buying into the ideas and understandings of the masses of his time, but as someone who takes the path which is least traveled by the majority. For Descartes, there is a profound feeling that the movie treats him more heroically than would fit his relatively unstrained lifestyle.
Some aspects of Descartes’s life are hard to capture without appearing like a complete joke (Society). Such one aspect gets to be the point when Descartes, after taking pains with pleasure to learn scholarly materials in a local learning institution, decides that the knowledge obtained through such means was of very little help and therefore proceeds to discard all of that (Descartes 11). And do what? And meditate through days and nights for him to learn what he already knows. It might seem like an ironic twist to the storyline, but Descartes holds quite a different opinion of that. With this overall description of who Pascal was as an individual, a philosopher, and a firm believer in the Catholic faith, it is probable that the movie on his life is hard to conceptualize.
More notably, the current generation is particularly obsessed with heroes or individuals with a noble quest of fighting crime, saving the world, or drama with occasional comedy. What nearly comes to this gets to be Pascal’s early life in which he made a string of inventions including a means of measuring air pressure and the design of a calculator. The presentation of this character on the big screen takes a turn remarkably as Pascal later changes to take on a pessimistic perspective on his and the lives of people around him (Society). With this gloomy take on life, the movie ends on a low note following Pascal’s death. Biographical Collation Having graced the world in March of 1596, Descartes grew to become a key figure in religious and philosophical pursuits more so to the point that he became an exceedingly important person to the modern world.
While still studying at La Fleche, he grew increasingly tired of scholarly work and the subsequent learning at the college (Patrick). Upon leaving, he became the father of modern philosophy thanks to his keen understanding of the requirements of a philosopher. In following the directives of his new found passion, Descartes embarked on a lifelong journey of removing all that he had learned from his mind, in a kind of a purge of his mind. He extended extraneous efforts to erase all that he had learned to accommodate a new way of thinking and allow for learning new techniques. For the most part, this turns into a struggle as individuals such as Augustine and other church fathers embrace different ideas in different degrees to aid with an explanation of the tough questions plaguing philosophy since time immemorial.
Neoplatonists, Aristotelian Christianity, and other scholars from the major religions desperately tried to bridge the gap between philosophy and theology and mostly relied on belief to explain philosophical concepts resulting in a seeming disappearance of philosophy as a discipline on its right. Philosophy was taken to make sense and provide explanations for more in-depth life inquiries when considered as a discipline on its own. Both Descartes and Pascal get born in these uncertain times, and both get faced with the questions as regards philosophy as a separate inquiry from theology. Gaukroger (132) notes that natural philosophy stood out more distinctly and continued to develop to include the nature of philosophizers. Also, he was pivotal to Newton’s discoveries in the binomial theorem.
Descartes also influence Newton, albeit in a somewhat lesser degree, and later he made an excellent rebuttal to Descartes’s theory of vortices. Descartes provided the groundwork necessary for Newton in his formulation of cubic equations which he then presented in single variables and strove to erase Greek influences on the works. Nevertheless, Pascal effectively eclipsed Descartes’s achievements in mathematics and physics with the introduction of Pascal’s triangle and Pascal’s law. These last accomplishments, in a myriad more, make Pascal’s domination in mathematics unassailable as far as the two figures are concerned. This method which requires doubt of all the information that one holds, so that after an in-depth analysis of all the information that one holds and maintaining that as the actual and best knowledge for the individual is known as the cartesian method.
Descartes got widespread fame when, in tackling the question of the validity of his self, concluded: “I think; therefore, I am. ” (Descartes 137) This premise allowed him to believe in other beings including God and the persons around him. In its height, Cartesianism supported the separation of mind and body and advocated for the separation between the mind and the body. The corporeal body, with its many misgivings, holds down the mind which in-turn prevents it from scaling new heights. This relentless desire to prove all knowledge right beyond all reasonable doubt gets applied in the current times through the use of the scientific methods in research. Pascal was not hidden in any way from philosophical or otherwise theological thought and duties.
He was notably affiliated with the Jansenists and was perpetually involved in endless battles against the Jesuits (Schmaltz 38). As a religious community, Jansenists were Christian affiliates with a somewhat different take on the application of Christian concepts. They were particularly rigorous in their use of such ideas as found in the Bible to the extent of being ascetic (Pascal 2). On the one hand, if it turns out to be a myth, they will dispose it off as such, but on the other hand, they stand to gain if he is real (Pascal 308). The gains would be incomparable to the risk as it would be eternal life. Picking between Descartes and Pascal on this noted would be quite a hard task as each one decisively justifies their philosophy and overall outlook on many of the factors at play behind their decision to act as they did for their philosophies.
Comparison of Scholarly Heritage For his educational history, as earlier stated, Descartes moved on to meditations after the completion of his scholarly work at La Fleche. He seemed to have problems with the system as regards the nature of knowledge and learning. Pascal’s wager is a symbol of his dedication to Christian practice and a living proof that he inherited his community’s intellectual traditions and passed them on to the younger generations. Differences in Writings Descartes most crucial written work are the meditations (Descartes 1). They showcase his writing might and ability in a time when the field of natural philosophy got left to the use of a few concepts. However, works such as his helped revitalize the area, give it credence, and allow for the transferring of classical literature and knowledge to the modern world.
For exploits such as these, Descartes has earned his title as the father of modern philosophy. This says way much more about him as a person in the community than meets the eye. For him to proceed to such an end, he must have either been dissatisfied with the outcome of this education or was in search of something else that the schooling years were unable to provide. Both the former and the latter are highly likely reasons to explain Descartes behavior. The two aspects are critical in understanding Descartes’s life in society and his significant contribution to the politics of the community around him. As a French citizen, he was obliged to contribute to the betterment of his country through the institutions of fundamental rights provided for in the country’s constitution.
It feels that Descartes had his eyes set on other goals and completing the scholarly requirements within the country. The educational system of his time required persons to learn the works of other persons and tested after a given period on their learning and ability to retain the content taught. Judging from his later life and works, Descartes seemed to take a strikingly different path to the one implemented in the societally accepted norm. For him, learning was the development of a person’s reasoning abilities. An individual who refines his logical skills and makes himself the main object of study is along the lines of Descartes’s region of liking. He did not agree with many free willed philosophers and other figures who proved to be in opposition to the faith in God as told from the position of a Christian.
Apart from this, Pascal stood out as a firm critic of empiricism. Still, this meant that the famed and renown philosopher, Aristotle, was not beyond criticism from Pascal. He fiercely advocated against the notion that the first instances of knowledge got acquired through the senses. Chiefly, this is because the sense perceptions do not provide any information whatsoever on the existence of God or of his faith since he cannot get perceived in any way, shape, or form (Pascal 312). He ensured to make use of his widespread influence sparingly and only getting involved in matters of debate on faith with Jesuits. Although these debates flung to outright battles for supremacy, they were far from day to day government of France and its citizens (Pascal 253).
Therefore, from the ensuing evidence, it is clear that Descartes and Pascal shared several admirable qualities, undoubted influence, and brilliant minds which paved the way for making sense of many aspects of life in modern times. Apart from these apparent similarities, they affected the France community and the world at large quite differently. Descartes was somewhat involved in advising leaders of countries while Pascal was more concerned in developing a meaningful understanding of the Christian faith through fighting misleading dogma. He invented and introduced the first omnibus in France, a way of measuring the mass of air pressure which got later given the SI unit of Pascal (Pa) and invented the calculator which he humbly named the Pascaline. He also had a hand in the makings of the roulette machine, introduced Pascal’s law of hydraulics, and most significantly coining Pascal’s wager (Hacking 186).
Additionally, he founded the theory of probability and set the ground for later mathematicians to make their contribution to the concept. Pascal also devoted much of his time in writing his theological treatises such as the Pensée, and the provisional letters (Pascal 1). It goes without saying that Pascal’s inventions and his overall impact on the fields and disciplines within his spheres of interest have left a far more lasting effect on future generations than did Descartes. Additionally, when Jansenism gets compared to Cartesianism, having a look at the current generation is enough to understand who the winner would be. Today, the Jansenists are all but extinguished, and the same cannot be said of Cartesians. Descartes most notably work still stands the test of time and is read far and wide in an age where high intellectual ability is prized extensively.
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