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Wotton’s Society

Wotton’s Society:
Professor Richard Parish (St Catherine’s College, Oxford),
‘All or Nothing? Pascal’s Wager in the context of the Pensées’

Professor Parish began by explaining that the Pensées was really an approximation of texts that was put together, most likely through arbitrary editorial decisions. However, Pascal sets out with a fundamental belief that man is happy with God and miserable without God. In this argument lies the question of how we decide the existence of God. Pascal explains through his most famous method of the Wager that there is infinity to gain and nothing to lose from believing in God.

Professor Parish also outlined the debate of where this passage should really go in the context of the Pensées, as well as added his own critique, raising points on deism and linguistic ambiguity. He took questions on a range of points including salvation, atheism, and persuasion through argumentation.

We are most grateful to Professor Parish for his generosity in coming down to deliver his fascinating and most clear talk.

Cristo Liautaud OS (RPDF)


DATE POSTED: 18 March 2010

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