Blaise Pascal was one of those polymaths that only the Enlightenment could have produced. He was one of the sixteenth century’s most important mathematicians, and Pascal’s Triangle alone might have been enough to make his name immortal. But he also invented the roulette wheel, proved the existence of natural vacuums, created the barometer and the syringe, and wrote one of the century’s most important treatises on the scientific method. But in 1654, when he was 32, he had a religious experience and devoted himself to theology. Before his death at age 39, he had produced the strange, fragmentary book we know as the Pensées, a genuine classic of French prose and a foundational text of what would come to be known as Christian existentialism—though it belongs to many other traditions, as well.
But the theological focus and fragmented structure of the Pensées has led some philosophers to suggest that it’s not a work of philosophy at all. Our guest today on Christian Humanist Profiles is Dr. Graeme Hunter, professor of philosophy at the University of Ottawa, and his latest book, Pascal the Philosopher: An Introduction, argues against the philosophers who want to lock Pascal out of their clubhouse.