Friday, July 02, 2010

The Tragedy of Pascal

Thony Christie has a nice post on the 17th century genius:
Pascal’s religious fervour deprived the world of his mathematical abilities but not of his astounding intellect. The main centre of Jansenism was the Port-Royal Cloister in Paris and it was from here that the Port-Royal Logic was issued, an important textbook in the history of logic. Originally published anonymously in 1662 it was attributed to the Jansenist theologians Antoine Arnauld and Pierre Nicole but it is now accepted that Pascal played a significant role in its conception. In France Pascal is most celebrated not as a mathematician but as an author of literature, his Provincial Letters and his Pensées are both regarded as classics of French literature and although both are intrinsically religious even a deist like Voltaire called the Letters the best-written book that has yet appeared in France.

Having been a child prodigy, a scientific genius and a literary giant Pascal completed the requirements necessary to become a bona fide legend by dying tragically at the age of 39.

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