Association Présence de Gabriel Marcel

1 vol, 171 p.
ISBN : 2-7113-0488-4
New edition (in French),
Jeanne Parain-Vial, ed.
Preface by Paul Ricur
ditions Universitaires, Paris 1991
23 euros
(Available upon demand
at the Association).


The tone of this work is alternately one of alarmed lucidity and of defiant despair. But if we dwell too much on the themes of lament, if not protest and denunciation, we forget about the numerous pages where it is clearly said that a philosopher should not claim to be a prophet : the prophet tells words that are not his and, besides, benefits from the uncommon gifts of a visionary. Marcel doesnt claim for himself this authority, or this gift. His only weapon, he says again and again, is reflection a second reflection that reconsiders the evidence articulated by a primary thought sometimes fascinated by all the forces working for death.

This philosopher is, of course, a Christian philosopher, and it is in his faith that he finds reasons of not despairing. True. But right away we must say that when the Christian relays the philosopher, it is a nonconfessional Christian, a Christian forewarned of religious fanaticism, and above all a Christian who puts his motives of hope at the service of the philosophers reasons to resist, explicitated by second reflection, by which he can resist to invitations to despair suggested by his lucidity alone.

Marcels spirituality is very far from irrational fideism, and we are not to be surprised by the praise he gives of great rationalism. True, the works philosophical core remains the famous distinction between problem and mystery. But in the 1950s Marcel took the utmost care not to let this distinction become a slogan in which the word mystery would be glued as a label saying : Touching is forbidden, thinking is forbidden.

Paul Ricœur 

Présence de Gabriel Marcel
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