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Topic- The Principles of Philosophy vs. The Wager; Le Monde vs. The Disproportion of Man — Descartes and Pascal appear at either end of the spectrum of positions concerning what the limits of our capacity to know with certainty the nature of the universe and of God. Descartes proves the existence of God and the geometrical foundations of physics. Pascal says that caught between the two abysses of the infinite and the infinitesimal, we can only know a semblance of the “midst of things,” so we must end up relying on experience or experiment. How do both express and attempt to resolve “the crisis of authority” (or “crisis of certainty”) in the Scientific Revolution?

Directions -Choose one of the following topics and write an essay. The best essays will provide historical context (names, dates, places, etc.), references to significant documents (not just written – for example, an illustration, painting, account of a practice, etc., are all documents), a thesis, a clear argument, and a good use of information to back up the argument. All quotes, important information, etc., will be documented by in-text parenthetical references to sources, footnotes, or endnotes, where that information appears in the essay, and contain a complete bibliography. The essays will be typed, double spaced, stapled, no more than 6 pages long, not counting the bibliography page. Wikipedia and Wikipedia based information may not be used. . Any information derived from a source such as Google Books must include the page number of the book in which it appeared. Grammar, spelling, and organization will be included as part of the grade.

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