What are the important features of PASCAL

Summary of thoughts

The Catholic Church and the Reformers

The Reformation, which began at the beginning of the 16th century, shook the Catholic Church to its foundations. For centuries her authority in matters of faith had remained unchallenged. But with the work Martin Luther and other reformers, reformatory currents spread across Europe in the decades that followed. For the church, this new development meant the loss of not only religious but also political power. Accordingly, she tried to stop the new faith, through wars as well as through missionary efforts. The Jesuit order, founded in 1534, played a decisive role in this so-called Counter-Reformation. The missionary efforts of the Jesuits actually succeeded in pushing back Protestantism in parts of Europe.

However, there were also reform efforts within the Catholic Church, the content of which was very close to the Protestants. One of them was Jansenism in France, named after the Belgian bishop Cornelius Jansen, which worked at the beginning of the 17th century. Like the Protestants, the Jansenists were convinced that man could not earn his salvation through works, but was dependent on the grace of God. At the same time they turned against an all too close connection between religion and politics and condemned pomp and waste. A conflict with the Jesuits loyal to the Pope was inevitable: They saw pious works as the most important means of salvation, were very politically active and loved splendid worship services. The Jansenists soon came into conflict with the Pope, who condemned their teaching. From 1680 the movement was suppressed in France, and in 1710 its center, the Port-Royal monastery near Versailles, was destroyed. In 1719 Jansenism was finally banned by the Pope.


When Blaise Pascal died in August 1662, there were over 1,000 notes in his estate on which he had written down thoughts on various subjects, including: to a planned theological work in defense of Christianity. The texts were probably written from 1658 onwards. Pascal himself had structured some of them, the rest was disorganized. Friends and relatives collected the pieces of paper, tried to organize them, stuck them on larger pieces of paper, and copied them off. There were three original versions that are not identical: the glued-on pieces of paper, also known as the "original collection", and two copies. In the first few years after Pascal's death, a committee prepared the publication of the work. It was directed by Arthur Gouffier de Roannez, a good friend of Pascal's. In order to avoid conflicts with the church, the editors left out texts that were too critical of the Jesuits and the official church. As a precaution, the manuscript was presented to some theologians in 1669 as a preliminary edition for assessment. After their approval, the first official edition of the thoughts.

Since there is no authorized version of the work and the order of the slips of paper cannot be clearly determined, the editors of later editions also arranged the fragments according to their own ideas, added things that were left out and dispensed with other passages that did not seem important to them. So they stayed thoughts a very changeable work on which every editor tried to put his own stamp on. It was not until the middle of the 19th century that the ambition was to produce as complete an edition as possible. At the same time, notes kept appearing well into the 20th century that had not been included in any of the previous editions and were newly added.

Impact history

Blaise Pascal's rational approach to the Christian faith and the matter-of-factness with which he looks for logical justifications for the correctness of Christianity excited the minds over the centuries, especially among atheistic thinkers. Nice Voltaire dealt with Pascal and criticized his theology as inhuman, because Pascal saw the situation of man in the world as pathetic and wretched. Friedrich Nietzsche vacillated between rejection and admiration; for him Pascal was "the only logical Christian".

Pascal is still considered to be one of the most important thinkers of Christianity. He shaped philosophers like Soeren Kierkegaard, Martin Heidegger, Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre, and its influence extends to the present day. Blaise Pascal is still respected for his scientific research. This is how a unit for physical pressure bears his name. And a mechanical calculating machine he invented is considered the forerunner of the modern computer. For this reason, the programming language Pascal was named after him in 1972.