My yearly royalty statement from Wadsworth/Thompson Learning reveals that On Pascal (2003) sold eight copies in 2006. It is part of the Wadsworth Philosophers Series. (I also wrote on Jesus, which sold a 404 copies during the same time.) At least it is still in print. It has sold a little over 1,000 in five years. The grasshopper drags himself along...
All modesty and self-restraint aside, I believe it is a far better book than that. It is readable, but well-documented, and it raises many interesting themes related to his life story, philosophy of science, the nature of Pensees, ethics, views of human nature, the infamous wager (which I defend in a modified version), and his views of Jesus Christ.
So, given the vast and influential audience of The Constructive Curmudgeon, let us try to increase sales by:
1. Buying a copy yourself (and not a used one!).
2. Giving one to a friend, Christian or non-Christian.
3. Consider using it for a text in the classroom (apologetics, history of modern philosophy, adult ed in the church, etc.)
4. Write up a review of it on your own blog.
5. Starting a "The Pascal-Driven Life" series in your church and require church attendees to buy it. Create T-shirts, mugs, and action figures as well.
This is not a plan to make money. The contract reeked; I wrote it for spreading the ideas, not lining my pockets. My pockets are lined with gum wrappers and tissues. This is a rallying cry to get the word out about a little book that celebrates a profound and timely thinker: Blaise Pascal.
If you get a copy, let me know and tell me what you think of it.
My next book will be: On the Sublime Perils of Writing Obscure Books Which Fall Still-Born from the Presses.
Saturday, March 31, 2007
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I've just searched for it on Amazon.co.uk
They have your name as "Groothius". Same for "On Jesus".
(A search for "On Pascal" "On Pascal Philosophy" etc. yielded way too many results to get it).
Dear Mr. Groothuis,
I've been meaning to carry your books in my bookstore for awhile, and this seems as good a time as any to do so. My question is this... is the entire Wadsworth Philosophers Series worth carrying? I don't really trust Thompson Learning.
Also, besides your two books on the new age movement, what other significant titles have you published?
Sky Cow Books
I believe I am probably one of the six who purchased On Pascal (or else I bought it in late 2005). While Pascal is perhaps my favorite philosophers, I have not read a great deal of analysis on him. But during my last full reading of Pensees (and the final reading with that copy...because when page leaves begin falling out of the binding it is time to purchase another), On Pascal provided a succinct and provocative third voice. I read the two simulataneously which made for an interesting dialogue of sorts, especially for me the portion on Pascal's life which gave a great deal of insight into the way not only he thought but how he communicated his thoughts.
But that said, I would love to read a more extensive volume of yours on Pascal. Specifically, his philosophy of science as well as his various insights into apologetics and ethics ("If we want to correct someone usefully...we must see from what point of view he is approaching the matter, for it is usually right from that point of view...") have always struck me as germane for any Christian thinker.
Nevertheless, I shall look for On Jesus once I'm finished marking up my new copy of Pensees.
Perhaps if you re-titled the book, you would have more success. Also a catchy jacket and perhaps an action shot of you flying recklessly down the high line canal on your bike in the bio section. My wife has employed her creative prowess this morning to suggest the following titles as possibilities to pique the interest of the general public.
"The One Minute Pascal"
"Pascal for Dummies"
"Pascal's Devotions for Coffee Lovers"
"The Busy Mother's Pascal"
"A Comparative Analysis of the Lives of Kenny G and Pascal"
"Pascal and Global Warming: Oprah's Book Club Addition"
"Pascal's Medition: Mantras for your Morning Yoga"
"Pascal's Guide to Exponential Church Growth: Growing a Thoughtful Mega-Church"
Very clever titles, Z!
I'll probably buy the book within a few months... I have Peter Kreeft's book on Pascal--anyone read it, what did you think? I also have the "Mind on Fire" Pascal book. I was also considering reading Thomas Morris's Making Sense of It All: Pascal and the Meaning of Life.
Somehow I own two copies of "On Pascal." I've read it, so I'll keep a copy and give the other to an interested friend one of these days.
By the way, Dr. Groothuis, my wife's grandfather was over at our house last weekend to see our new baby, and he picked up one your InterVarsity booklets, "Are All Religions One?" that was lying on a coffee table and read the entire thing through immediately. He's 86 years old, been a Christian for 75 years, and he says he's never read such a clear and reasonable answer to this question. He borrowed Truth Decay when he returned home, and he's already called to tell me he doesn't like that Foucalt character too much.
Just to let you know you never know who your readership might be. If I could only convince him now to purchase those books...
This is good! It warms the cockles of my heart, remote though they be from most avenues of access.
1. Morris is good, clear, worthwhhile--but too autobiographical. The editor should have caught all the narcissistic references. He's clever--and knows it. Now he lectures to top executives for big money and has left the academic world...
However, he brings Pascal into the contemporary debate--at least as of 1992. There are no footnotes, though.
2. Kreeft comments on selected passages of Pensees. He is often insightful, but fully Romanist here. He is writing for Ignatius and not for InterVarsity. He tones down the papism for the latter, but not the former. Of course, Pascal was a Roman Catholic, but there is often where we need to disagree with him.
I never knew, despite reading most of the book, that you wrote a section on Pascal for The History of Science and Religion in the Western Tradition: An Encyclopedia. I'll have to read that today.
Thanks for the comments on the Pascal books.
Speaking of Thomas Morris, what do you think of his book Francis Schaeffer's apologetics: A critique ?
I have been putting of reading Schaeffer for a long time because I've always heard he doesn't get a lot of philosophical positions correct. What should I make of this?
I bought a copy of On Pascal a few years back, I think as required reading for Defending the Christian Faith. As a result of reading On Pascal, I bought and read Pensees and loved it, so thank you.
With so few copies floating around, maybe I should come to your office and request an autograph!
I brought the Chinese translation of this book two years ago. It is easy to follow.
I thought you might want to respond to Sam Harris' recent critique of Pascal's Wager.
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