Short Biography – Pascal, Blaise (1623-62):Pascal was a French mathematician and man-of-letters. Pascal’s mother died early and he was left, at the age of seven, to be with his father and his sister, Jacqueline (Jacqueline was to enter a Jansenist convent.) His father, high up in the French judiciary, undertook to personally see to his son’s education. Pascal, even as a beginning youth, was a brilliant light in the intellectual community as then existed in France; many could not believe that such brilliant insights could come from such a mere youth. Up through the years, until 1654, Pascal divided his life between mathematics and the social life of Paris. Pascal was credited with the invention of the barometer and certain mathematical formulations which “heralded the invention of the differential calculus.” It was, in 1654, that Pascal was to have a mental crises and broke completely with his circle, and, claiming to have had religious revelations, went to join and live with his sister in the religious community in which she had belonged. He was to continue with his writing, but it now took a distinct religious tone; often, given his position as a Jansenist, a faction of the Roman catholic church, against the position and the teachings of the Jesuits.”
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