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Pascal’s Coffeehouse and Gallery
Pascal’s and the Christian Study Center not only share a building, they draw inspiration from a shared source.
What’s in a Name?
Why name a twenty-first century coffeehouse after a seventeenth-century mathematician, scientist, theologian, philosopher, psychologist, inventor, and public servant? Well, there you have at least seven reasons. Blaise Pascal affirmed numerous areas of inquiry that range across the arts and sciences, the professional colleges, and beyond. He worked on the cutting edge of seventeenth-century mathematics, dabbled in experimental science, daringly engaged the religious and theological powers of his day, called Descartes’ modern philosophical project into question, anticipated Freud in his musings as an amateur psychologist, invented a “mathematical machine” (calculator? computer?), and also created Paris’ first public transportation system (giving the proceeds to the poor). We gladly identify with Pascal in affirming all these lines of inquiry and activity. Pascal also wrote as thought-provoking a book as the modern era has produced. Engaging in both style and substance, his Pensées (thoughts) consists of bits and pieces that range from a few words to a few pages. Though Enlightenment thinkers of the eighteenth century did not care for his questioning of modern rationalism, critics of the Enlightenment gradually brought Pascal back into the philosophical discourse of modernity, where he continues to listen and to speak. We welcome Pascal’s voice—together with all the voices that make this a rich and important human conversation—and we trust that Pascal’s Coffeehouse can be a place where the conversation continues and Pascal’s voice resonates within it. Welcome to Pascal’s. “One must know when it is right to doubt, to affirm, to submit. Anyone who does otherwise does not understand the force of reason. Some people run counter to these three principles, either affirming that everything can be proved, because they know nothing about proof, or doubting everything, because they do not know when to submit, or always submitting, because they do not know when judgment is called for.” (pensée # 170)