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Heart and Reason: Using Pascal to Clarify Smith’s Ambiguity

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Abstract Like other Pentecostal scholars, James Smith highlights the anti-rationalist feature of Pentecostalism and stresses the priority of (faith) experiences. In his sketch of a Pentecostal contribution to epistemology, however, this stance leads to an ambiguous appreciation of the role of human reasoning in the process of knowing. I will address some consequences of this position and show that Blaise Pascal’s work provides clarification. Like Smith, Pascal gives priority to the heart, but rational and sensorial knowledge are both explicitly highly valued. The shared priority of the knowledge of the heart is the starting point to understand the possible contribution of Pascal to Smith’s Pentecostal quest for an adequate perspective on epistemology. I will argue that the most challenging points of Pascal’s possible contribution are the proper place of reasoning, the crucial function of willing and love, and the elaboration within a broader theological perspective.

Affiliations: 1: Seminario Sudamericano (SEMISUD) Quito Ecuador


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