The Philosophy of Gabriel Marcel

The Philosophy of Gabriel Marcel

The Philosophy of Gabriel Marcel

The Philosophy of Gabriel Marcel

Excerpt

The principal aim of a book on The Philosophy of Gabriel Marcel ought to be to send the reader back to the original works in all their non-expoundable concreteness. Actually, in the case of this relentlessly unsystematic thinker, even to speak of "his philosophy" has a hollow ring, for it suggests just the kind of carefully constructed edifice of doctrine which Marcel deliberately renounces. An attempt to "expound" such a thought inevitably runs the risk of distorting it. And yet the risk seems worth running. For Marcel's thought, while original and fascinating, is so extremely elusive that it is a rare reader for whom it does not seem to cry out for interpretation. The paradox is that this elusiveness is an essential constituent of his thought, and any exposition which sought to eliminate it would be self-defeating. In the pages that follow, I have sought to find the source of this elusiveness, not in order to banish it, but rather in order to discover its philosophical significance. My hope has been that, through a progressive penetration of Marcellian themes, the animating principle behind his thought will gradually emerge. What follows, then, is an exposition--in the sense that an attempt has been made to bring the contours of Marcel's thought into dear focus--but one which preserves the freshness of his approach. The success of such an attempt is bound to be uneven, but it is hoped that it will be of service in providing much-needed direction to many a reader drawn to Marcel's style of thought, yet adrift in its uncharted expanse.

It is certainly time that such an attempt was made. Marcel has been for over thirty-five years one of the world's most influential thinkers, but he is still too superficially categorized as an "existentialist," a title which has a limited validity but is about as misleading as any other. He does not derive from the line of descent to which so many of the "existentialist" thinkers owe their origin, the line that is vaguely drawn . . .

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