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pascal Pascal Surprised or incredulous



          Surprised or incredulous, members of the intellectual elite
of Paris attend the exhibition of a strange machine, created by a 21
year-old youth. Nobody notices its reach: so that a mechanism
capable to do so many calculations? Centuries later, the mill would
be considered the calculating- first of the modern ones.

          Blaise Pascal, the inventor of the calculating machine, would also
develop important studies of Mathematics and Physics, besides leaving deep
meditations on Philosophy and Christian Religion.

          Born in 1623, Blaise Pascal interiorizou the dilemmas of its time:
the shock among the old medieval order, in that the influence of the
Christian doctrine, and a new vision of the world prevailed, own of the
emergent capitalist society, based on the development of the sciences
(mathematics, physics, etc.) and of its application in the technology. On a
side, the Church tried to preserve its authority on the men, reaffirming the
need of the faith; from the other, the humanity discovered that it could walk
without the divine help, being guided for by force of its reason.
                                The Cientist

            The scientific and rationalistic aspect of Pascal was revealed from
the childhood. Instigated by the father, that, refusing to send the son to the
school, took charge of his education, young Pascal rushed to the
investigation of any problem with that if he ran across. Restless and curious,
already to the 11 years, he accomplished experiences on the sounds, that
resulted in a small agreement.

            It is also counted that, not satisfied with the paternal promise that
later he would receive lessons on mathematics, he developed for own
initiative, the study of geometric illustrations. Thus, to the 12 years, he got
to deduce alone the first 32 positions of the geometry established by

            The processes in the study of the Mathematics were fast: no longer
he was to reproduce the one that the old specialists had done, but of doing
new discoveries. To the 16 years, he wrote the " Rehearsal on the Conical "
published in 1640, a work on the Profective Geometry in that investigated
the conical ones - geometric illustrations whose properties don't lose temper
when projected in several ways of a plan on another one.

            After “La Pascaline's " construction - the machine of calculating -,
the attention of Pascal went back to the experiences on the atmospheric
pressure accomplished by Torricelli. Second this cientist, the space that
stayed on the column of mercury of a barometer corresponded to the
vacuum; Pascal demonstrated that the assumed " vacuum " didn't pass of
rarefied air. In that study, he also analyzed the properties of the hydraulic
pressure, enunciating a proposition that would be known as " law of Pascal
"; the pressure exercised on the liquid in a shut recipient is transmitted by all
the directions, with no modifyings.
                         The Religious Crisis

          During that whole period, Pascal, as his contemporaries, he
directed his conduct according with the prescriptions of the Catholic Church.
This seemed to conform to at the new times, being shown tolerant with the
scientific investigations that, direct or indirectly, they refuted the extracted
dogmas of the Bible. In that measured, the Catholicism of the generation of
Pascal tended to be much more a simple habit than a true faith: the faith in
God didn't have consequences in the daily life.

          The theological current founded by Dutch Cornelius Jansen, even
so, it considered such attitude a true corruption of the Christianity. Jansen
affirmed that the philosophical reason was the " mother of all the heresies ";
in other words, it condemned any free thought, I don't subject to the control
of the Church. According to him, the man was not guided by its free will; it
was predestined, and the salvation didn't depend on its actions, but, only, of
the divine grace.

          In France, such current - known like Jansenism -, in spite of
officially condemned by the Pope, it spread quickly, tends with main center
difusor, the convent of Port-Royal. From there, the French jansenists started
to nail the solitary retreat and the scorn for the material and social life.

          Pascal would take contact with the jansenism in 1646, when the
father, sick, became attended by two medical followers of the doctrine. In
the discussions with these, Pascal went being taken by the feeling that there
was something superior, deeper than the human reason.

          If this solved the problems of the Nature, of mathematical or
physical order, it was shown impotent to solve other problems, as the sin
and the salvation.
          This, even so, it didn't take it he abandon the scientific researches.
Starting from 1652, Pascal began to investigate the mathematical subjects
raised by the " Games of Dices ", elaborating the calculation of the
probabilities. It gave studies, that he called himself “Geometry of Pascal ", it
controls numeric that allows to calculate several possible combinations to a
certain number of objects contained to each other.

          However, no longer he felt more comfortable in than himself
denominated as " mundane " life. Like this, as he tells his sister, to the 30
years, Pascal " decided to give up of the social " commitments. He began
moving of neighborhood and, for better break with his habits, went live in
the field, where so much did to abandon the world that the world after all
abandoned him.

                     The Man and the Infinite

          Actually he didn't abandon the world. In spite of having confined
in the convent of Port-Royal starting from 1655, it started to develop intense
literary activity and philosophical-religious person to disclose and to defend
before the world the ideas of Jansenism. Of that activity they resulted,
among other works, the " Provincial ", a series of goods writings starting
from 1656, and, “Thoughts ", published in 1670, eight years after the
author's death.

          Besides, Pascal didn't totally stand back of the scientific activity:
retaking the previous studies on the subject of the " infinitely small " ones; it
developed in 1658 a work on the area of the ciclóide, it curves described by
a point of the circumference that rolls on a straight line. That study would be
the percursor of the integral calculation, elaborated later by Leibniz and
          But even that scientific work was tied up to problems physiologic-
religious persons. In fact, its interest for the " infinitely small " ones was
associated to a larger subject. What is the man before the infinite "? Because
the man, according to Pascal, is it placed among two infinites: the " infinitely
big " (the Universe) and the " infinitely small " (particles, atoms).

          Before that immensity, the man meets lost: We " burned in the
desire of finding a firm platform and a last and permanent base for on her to
build a tower that rises until the infinite; even so, the alicerces ruem and the
earth opens up until the abyss ".

          If the man, through its reason, gets to unmask several secrets of
the world, he will never get to know everything, the infinite. There is only,
therefore, a fixed point where the man can lean on: God. But the existence of
God establishes in the man the trust in himself. The man continues lost,
tormented, while it doesn't come the grace of God. It is not the man that
should reveal the existence of God, because the reason is unable of that; the
revelation only depends on God. While this not to grant the grace to the man,
God will always be occult.

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