Blaise Pascal / Edition 1

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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 replace the God of traditional Christianity. Pascal, on the other hand, was not so confident. In his Pensées, he wrote, "The eternal silence of these infinite spaces fills me with dread." For Pascal, the universe was full of a mystery that went far beyond the powers of reason.

Blaise Pascal: Reasons of the Heart, the latest addition to Eerdmans LIBRARY OF RELIGIOUS BIOGRAPHY series, captures Pascal's life and times with a chronicle narrative based on the published sources and Pascal's own works. Marvin O'Connell takes readers on an eloquent journey into Pascal's world, showing the passion that drove the man and the radical spirituality he sought in his own heart. In the process, O'Connell also illumines the social, political, and religious intrigue of seventeenth-century Paris, especially the winner-take-all struggle between the Jesuits and the Jansenists, with whom Pascal himself was allied.

Written in an enjoyable style accessible to all, this meticulously researched biography will acquaint readers with the life and thought of Blaise Pascal, a remarkable human being and luminous Christian thinker.

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Editorial Reviews

Theological Studies
"A delightfully readable and critically informative introduction to the life and times of Pascal.... The book would serve as an excellent text for an appropriate undergraduate or graduate course in either history or theology."
Christian Century
O'Connell's recounting of Pascal's remarkable life draws the reader into the story. His presentation of the context for Pascal's life is masterful, immersing the reader in the flavor of 17th-century France.
Catholic Historical Review
Of the introductory biographical studies of the life and works of Blaise Pascal (1923-1662) that have appeared in English in recent years, Marvin O'Connell's Blaise Pascal: Reasons of the Heart is among the best. It is probably the most readable.
Catholic Library World
Because of the clarity of its style, the winning character of its subject and the deft treatment of its author, the book is highly recommended for those interested in the man and in the religious and theological struggles which his life and writings so vividly embodied.
Louvain Studies
An excellent introduction to the life and work of a well-known but little understood thinker.
Library Journal
O'Connell (emeritus, history, Notre Dame) creates a context for understanding brilliant mathematician and mystic Blaise Pascal. The physical and intellectual environment of Pascal's 17th-century France come alive in this well-written work. Especially effective is O'Connell's analysis of the Jansenist controversy, in which Pascal was deeply involved and which profoundly influenced his thought. Although the book contains no footnotes, an eight-page bibliographic essay indicates that the author drew on an array of secondary sources as well as the standard published primary sources. Recommended for collections in religion and in French history.Linda V. Carlisle, Southern Illinois Univ., Edwardsville
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780802801586
  • Publisher: Eerdmans, William B. Publishing Company
  • Publication date: 7/10/1997
  • Series: Library of Religious Biography
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 236
  • Sales rank: 816,476
  • Product dimensions: 0.54 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

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