Thursday, July 13, 2017

"The head is always fooled by the heart"

"The heart has its reasons, which reason does not know. We feel it in a thousand things. It is the heart which experiences God, and not the reason. This, then, is faith: God felt by the heart, not by the reason."   - Blaise Pascal

Regular listeners to the Howard Stern radio show are used to hearing his sidekick - newsperson - former student of mine, Robin Quivers, say, "The heart wants what the heart wants."

That's the kind of thing you hear in those romantic comedy movies that always have someone like Jennifer Aniston being pursued by a really great guy like Hugh Grant, but the female lead needs to be figuratively shaken by her shoulders and told, "Can't you see that what you need is standing right there in him?" by her sidekick who is never blonde, may be a tad frowsy, and is going to wind up with Jim Belushi at the end.

Or, look at the movie "Wedding Crashers," in which Owen Wilson ratchets up the drawl 3 notches to say, "You know how they say we only use 10 percent of our brains?"  And then, like a Hyundai salesman homing in on selling an Accent to a recent American Studies graduate, he drones, "I think we only use 10 percent of our hearts." Actually, he kind of says "horts," but you get the picture.

Any real doctor, or Dr Phil, will tell you that the heart is actually wired electrically to receive signals from the brain to do important tasks such as a) beating and b) continuing to do so until relieved.

Blaise Pascal
He could have opened the first
BP station and named it for himself
Blaise Pascal, the man whose quote opened today's blog, is not around to read it, having lived from June, 1623 until August, 1662. In a time when there were no W2 forms to list one's occupation, Pascal, a Frenchman, was a mathematician, physicist, inventor, writer and theologian. He would have needed a really big W2 to write all that down.

He figured out some math deal called "Pascal's Triangle," which I believed for years had something to with him and some woman and some other woman, but it's nothing like that. Just ask some Algebra II student; they can explain it to you, and I cannot. It has something to do with binomials. Not only can I not explain it, I can't even repeat it! As I did Algebra II. 

In the field of physics, he figured out that if you put pressure on a confined liquid, you are putting the same pressure on all parts of the liquid. This is known as "Pascal's Wet Kitchen Floor."

And he left theology with "Pascal's Wager,"  his commonsense look at believing in God.  He said it's probably a safer bet to believe than not to. Hard to argue, with all we know on earth. 

I can summarize old Pascal's work in one thought: It's better to let binomials make their own choices, it's better not to put a gallon of root beer in a half-gallon bottle, and you don't want to have a lot of explaining to do at a later time, so it's best to believe in yourself and your love and your deity and go from there.

Coming up soon in our series "Great Thoughts With Great Thinkers"  - Pinky Lee!

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