Proceedings of the American Catholic Philosophical Association


published on November 4, 2023

Francis Feingold

Reasons of the Heart
The “Evidence” of Love in Pascal’s Pensées

Pascal, in his Pensées, applies philosophy to a theological problem: reconciling (a) Christianity’s demand for absolute faith with both (b) the motives of credibility’s inability to justify absolute faith on their own and (c) the moral obligation to avoid superstition. This reconciliation hinges upon distinguishing two cognitive faculties: reason, and the heart. I will first discuss Pascal’s view of the difference between reason and the heart, and specifically how they each relate to evidence and certainty: reason discursively and probabilistically, the heart holistically and with certitude. Then I turn to Pascal’s view of the role which the heart plays in religious faith, and apply this view to the problem of basing absolute assent on limited evidence. Finally, I will examine Pascal’s view of reason’s important supporting role in faith, and apply it to the obligation to avoid superstitious belief