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Le Pari de Pascal - Pascal's Wager

The Letter, Issue 21, Spring 2001, Pages  113 - 120


Claude Landeman

By Way of an Introduction ...

The text given here of Claude Landeman's contribution to APPI's annual congress retains the conversational tone in which it was delivered. Claude Landeman spoke on the day via Cormac Gallagher's (almost!) simultaneous translation and we owe this present text to his efforts on that occasion and to those of the diligent note-takers in the audience. This work is an edited version of the compilation of their combined efforts.*

* *** *

To give you a definition of a 'wake-up call', Pascal's wager is just such a wake-up call. Se reveiller, river, - the function of waking up goes against our most beloved function, our dearest wish, which is to dream, to sleep. You all know that Freud said that the ultimate desire of the dream is the desire to go on sleeping.

This goes some way to explain why in relation to Pascal's wager there has only been misunderstanding, only failure to understand and disinterest from everyone who studied him, starting from the publication of the Pensees, in which the wager is prefaced by a little note to the reader explaining that this wager was only addressed to Libertines, or unbelievers. Things have gone on just like that - Pascal the French genius who reduces the wager to a matter of self-suggestion.

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