Pascal, the mathematician who became a philosopher





Mathematician, theologian, physicist, philosopher, moralist and controversial. Blaise Pascal has been one of the men who have struggled the most to be recognized as a renowned thinker, even though no one was ever able to discuss his enormous intellectual achievements. The scientific vein led Blaise Pascal to reach fame as a mathematician, but he hid for a long time other facets of his thought that went into all imaginable issues. Thoughts that history, fortunately, has been able to recover. Pascal was an original man in his own time, an asystematic, dark reverse of his contemporary René Descartes. A child of weak health. Blaise Pascal was born in Clermont Ferrand, France, on June 19, 1623, into a family of the lower nobility of the region. In addition to Blaise and her parents, the family was completed by her older sister, Gilberte-her first biographer-and Jacqueline, the youngest, with whom she would have a close relationship. Especially during his childhood, Pascal's health was characterized by his weakness. Before he was two years old, he already suffered from a disease that caused intestinal disorders and muscular atrophies, and over the years he developed strange phobias (such as not tolerating bathing or watching his parents embrace) that caused him nervous attacks. Some time later these situations seemed to disappear, but the headaches, the melancholy and the anguish were a constant and would shape their life and philosophy. Blaise's mother died when he was only 3 years old. His father, Etienne, made the decision to sell his properties and move with his family to Paris in 1631. In the French capital, Etienne took over the education of his children, which would be especially relevant to Pascal. He enjoyed a careful education, aimed at making him feel that he was capable of achieving all his goals. He was given readings of Greek and Latin classics, as well as works of great humanists, and his father marked a strong separation between scientific and religious issues. He had a careful education, aimed at making him feel that he was capable of achieving all his goals. From the theory to the practice. Facsimile of Pascual's memorial in the complete edition of his works (Brunschwicg). Distributed by Wikimedia Commons under license (CC BY-SA 4.0). Facsimile of Pascual's memorial in the complete edition of his works (Brunschwicg). Luc. Distributed by Wikimedia Commons under license (CC BY-SA 4.0). Soon he began to stand out, especially in mathematics. With only 11 years old, he found Proposition 32 of Euclides' Elements, which gives us a good example of his speculative abilities. The small one, certainly, seemed to have a special talent for numbers. In addition, he lived in a totally favorable environment to develop it. As members of the small nobility, the Pascal moved between the flower and the cream of the intellectuality of the France of their time: Fermat, Father Martin Merssene (founder of the Parisian Academy of Sciences), Gassendi, Roberval, Carcavi or the very Descartes. In those years, the differences between science and philosophy were not yet so marked. A "man of science" was what we would call today a cultural reference. And Blaise was. Surprised by the sound of a knife hitting a plate and how the sound went out when he laid his hand on it, Pascal gave birth to his Treatise on Sounds, about the theories of the sections of the conical bodies, giving rise to the The theory is known by your own name: Pascal's theorem (or mystical hexagon). But his work was not limited to theory. In order to help his father, who was a tax collector and needed to make a large number of calculations, he developed an "arithmetic machine" at the age of 19: the calculator. The possibilities of this device, which enjoyed moderate diffusion in 1642, became immediately apparent. At age 19 he developed an "arithmetic machine": the calculator.Confrontation with Descartes. In those years one of the first approaches of Blaise to the Christianity takes place, concretely to the jansenismo, movement that was based on a literal interpretation of the thought of San Agustín. In 1647 a historical fact occurs: Pascal and Descartes are finally known. And they hated each other immediately. In his great philosophical work, Thoughts, Pascal would refer to the father of the discourse of the method as "useless and uncertain", while, for his part, Descartes would say that Clermont Ferrand had "too empty in the head". A cruel game of words in reference to the studies on the emptiness of our protagonist (inventions that, on the other hand, would favor the invention of the piston syringe, almost identical to the one we use today.