Blaise Pascal (1/2): The Wager

The chance that life has meaning is 50%. So: Does life have no meaning, or does life have a meaning? It plays out something like Pascal’s Wager: If God existed, we would have a higher expectation of being right if believed in him. However, Blaise Pascal did not want to prove the existence of God, but merely to stimulate people’s belief. But I think that could easily be transferred to our blog here: not finding the meaning itself is the answer, but the stimulus for autonomous questioning….

For those who don’t know Blaise Pascal, here are some interesting facts about this Christian philosopher:

  • Blaise Pascal was a French mathematician, physicist, man of letters and philosopher.
  • The witty gentleman was born on June 19, 1623 in Clermont.
  • He died in Paris on August 19, 1662.
  • His art of thinking can be associated with the conviction that all problems can be solved by breaking them down into their individual aspects.
  • He believed that everything is interconnected and that parts are seen as the whole and the whole in its parts.
  • In this way he also combined what seemed opposites at the time: intuition and rational thinking. And proved that both can interact at a high level. He himself spoke of an “intuitive and geometric mind”
  • Of course, he also lived more than usual from the spirit: He had physical complaints and problems from an early age. He only ate dishes for the sake of eating, he simply didn’t see the pleasurable aspect within the food, didn’t tasted or appreciated it.
  • On the night of November 23-24, 1654, he suddenly had an epiphany that, according to him, led him to God.
  • He then published the work „Pensées“ (in English: „Thoughts“), a large systematic justification for religion
  • “The heart has its counter-arguments which reason knows not”
  • Hence Pascal’s Wager, which basically argues as follows:

„You say, then, that we are incapable of knowing whether there is a God. However, it is certain that God is or that he is not, there is no third. But to which side shall we lean? Reason, you say, can’t decide anything. There is an infinite chaos that lies between us and we are playing a game here at this infinite distance from each other where head or crest will fall. What do you want to bet? According to reason you can assert neither the one nor the other; according to reason you cannot deny either of them. So do not accuse those of error who have made a choice, for you do not know whether they are wrong or whether they chose ill. […] You have to bet, it’s not optional, you’re in the game once and not betting that God is is betting that he isn’t. So what do you want to choose? […] You have two things to lose, truth and happiness, and two things to gain, your reason and your will, your knowledge and your happiness, and your nature has two things to flee from, error and misery. You bet that he is, without thinking about it for long, your reason is no more offended if you choose one than if you choose the other, because it is absolutely necessary to choose. One point is settled here. But your happiness? We want to weigh up profit and loss, bet on faith, if you win, you win everything, if you lose, you lose nothing. So believe if you can.“

Blaise Pascal

Quote is drawn from German Wikipedia.

The following is the English Wikipedia.

Under the same link there is also a (even more understandable) summary of what cases there are, i.e. what could actually apply („God exists“ or „God does not exist“), and what belief one should therefore hold according to Pascal. (Spoilers: He wants you to believe in God 🤯)

No comment on belief in God from my side.

But I would like to apply Pascal’s bet to the meaning of life.

So: Suppose there is no meaning in life, and we don’t believe in such a meaning either.

Then a rational person would kill himself, wouldn’t he?

After all, people are always looking for meaning, and if it doesn’t make sense, they don’t think about it, and certainly don’t do it. Errors, for example, have NO SENSE AT ALL, RIGHT?

Anyone who nods to this still has a lot to learn.

Short answer: No.

Why not?

Long answer:

Blaise Pascal was introduced here. In the text, which you get to by pressing the button, I write how this thought of Pascal can be applied practically in your everyday belief and understanding of the world.

Have a wonderful day, stay curious and…

Thank you for reading!

Veröffentlicht von Ventusator

Eigentlich bin ich manchmal ganz nett. Sometimes I may actually be nice.

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