Image: Gabriel Marcel

Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973)

Gabriel Marcel (1889-1973), French Roman Catholic existentialist philosopher, dramatist, and critic, who insisted that individuals can only be understood as embodied and involved in specific situations. In his first book, "Metaphysical Journal" (1927; trans. 1952), Marcel argued for a concrete philosophy that recognized that one`s incarnation in a body and one`s historical situation essentially condition who one is. Marcel distinguished primary reflection, which deals with objects and abstractions and reaches its highest form in science and technology, from his own method, secondary reflection, which concerns those aspects of human existence, such as one`s body and one`s situation, in which one participates so completely that one cannot abstract oneself from them. Secondary reflection contemplates mysteries and yields a kind of truth (philosophical, moral, and religious) that cannot be scientifically verified but is confirmed insofar as it illuminates one`s life. Marcel, unlike other existentialists, emphasized participation in a community rather than human isolation. He expressed these ideas not only in his books but also in his plays, which present complicated situations in which people find themselves trapped and which lead either to isolation and despair or to a fulfilling relation to other persons and to God.

See also

"See also "Existentialism.

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