Friday, February 18, 2011

The Foresight of One Gabriel Marcel

Recently (through a chain of circumstances that is probably completely irrelevant to anyone reading this blog) I found myself embarked upon a first reading of Homo Viator, the large, wordy, and occasionally weighty tome of the Christian existentialist Gabriel Marcel. (I believe, having gotten perhaps a third of the way through, that he deserves the name "existentialist," his own protests to the contrary not withstanding.) I call this a first reading, and it has been worth while; but I find myself rather hoping against ever having to perform a second: existentialism is neither psychologically nor philosophically appealing. It also seems to me that with Marcel, as with Kierkegaard and Pascal, this ceding to the enemy of huge territories at the start—this refusal to fight for the premises upon which older western philosophies were based—is a rhetorical and tactical mistake of the first order.

But I come not to bury Marcel, but to praise him—praise him in a limited way, but praise him nonetheless.