It’s June 19th, so happy birthday! Ok, no, not you! I am talking about one of your many namesakes, Blaise Pascal born June 19th, 1623.
This other famous Pascal was not German/American, he was a French philosopher, mathematician, and physicist, famous for what we now call Pascal’s Wager. It posits that all humans must bet their lives either that God exists or does not exist.
Historically, Pascal’s Wager was groundbreaking because it blazed new trails in probability theory and was the first use of decision theory and anticipated future conversations about existentialism, pragmatism and more.
You have this one lifetime of potential happiness, and you’d be a fool to bet on anything less than going for it! Tweet This Quote
It strikes me that every entrepreneur is engaged in a version of Pascal’s Wager—uncertainty in our purpose, uncertainty in reason, uncertainty in science, uncertainty in religion and even in skepticism. Blaise Pascal challenged us to analyze the position of man (and woman) kind, the “crisis of existence” and the lack of complete understanding we all face. In regards to faith in God, Pascal pointed out that if a wager were between equal chances of gaining two lifetimes of happiness and gaining nothing, then a person would be a fool to bet on the latter. Since you are not a theologian, the Pascal Finette Wager, as I understand it, says “you for sure have this one lifetime of potential happiness, and you’d be a fool to bet on anything less than going for it!”
Or, as Pascal (the French guy) put it, “Wager, then, without hesitation…There is here an infinity of an infinitely happy life to gain, a chance of gain against a finite number of chances of loss, and what you stake is finite. And so our proposition is of infinite force, when there is the finite to stake in a game where there are equal risks of gain and of loss, and the infinite to gain.”