Module V: The Enlightment and Pascal

The Enlightenment

Faith and Reason

roughly the period 1500-1700, although exact dates are negotiable.

A time of great progress in the sciences, e.g. human anatomy (Harvey), physics (Newton), even electricity (Franklin).

A heavy emphasis (over-emphasis?) upon reason, rationality to answer all questions, solve all problems. Philosophy & Theology only valid insofar as it is subject to scientific/rational investigation.

Separation of faith & reason with depreciation of former

an idea of human perfection

Roger Bacon- forerunner of inductive "scientific method" (induction-start with particular instance, work toward generalization)

Bacon saw himself as the inventor of a method which would kindle a light in nature - "a light that would eventually disclose and bring into sight all that is most hidden and secret in the universe." This method involved the collection of data, their judicious interpretation, the carrying out of experiments, thus to learn the secrets of nature by organized observation of its regularities. Bacon's proposals had a powerful influence on the development of science in seventeenth century Europe.

Enlightenment ideas applied to philosophy and ethics

Rene Descartes- (Discourse on Method) forerunner of deductive rational manner (deriving a conclusion by reasoning)

"I think therefore I am"

Blaise Pascal (Pensees)- a mathematician/scientist but refused to extrapolate to ethics and theology.

Quotes from the Pensees:

"Pascal's Wager:" Belief is a wise wager. Granted that faith cannot be proved, what harm will come to you if you gamble on its truth and it proves false? If you gain, you gain all; if you lose, you lose nothing. Wager, then, without hesitation, that He exists. 

The heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing. 

Thus so wretched is man that he would weary even without any cause for weariness... and so frivolous is he that, though full of a thousand reasons for weariness, the least thing, such as playing billiards or hitting a ball, is sufficient enough to amuse him. 

He who sees himself thus will be frightened by himself, and, perceiving himself sustained... between these two abysses of infinity and nothing, will tremble... and will be more disposed to contemplate these marvels in silence than to explore them with presumption. For in the end, what is man in nature? A nothing in respect to the infinite, everything in respect to the nothing, a halfway between nothing and all. Infinitely far from comprehending the extremes, both the end and the beginning or principle of things are invincibly hidden in an impenetrable secret; he is equally incapable of seeing the nothing whence he has been drawn, and the infinite in which he is engulfed

"Map of the World" Plain White T's

The grandeur of man is great in that he knows himself to be miserable.

Winter In My Heart Avett Brothers (audio)

Quote from NPR's "All Things Considered": 
'In a few weeks, The Avett Brothers release a new album, one that explores the delicate balance between life and death. It's called "The Carpenter."'

"I've Been Waiting For This" (Butch Walker)