chapter  IV
20 Pages

Gabriel Marcel

THE thought of Gabriel Marcel is even less susceptible of summary treatment than that of Jaspers, with which it has close affinities. His philosophy is a philosophy of second thoughts, a reflection upon reflection, not raising reflection to a higher degree of abstraction but using reflection to restore concreteness, the unity of living and thinking. The method congenial to him is to note in a journal his trains of thought, which exposes the intimate process of thinking, with all its hesitations and audacities, its tentatives and discontinuities, its polished fragments, suggestive beginnings, sudden triumphs, and abandoned pursuits. This is at the furthest remove from system building, and far even from systematic exposition. But the current of his thought does not run in the channel of daily occurrence (as with Amiel, for example), for it is strictly governed by certain dominant concerns; his thinking is neither mere philosophizing nor a philosophy, it is an act of philosophy, la pensée pensante not la pensée pensée. His repudiation of systems and results, the return to concreteness, was the fruit of his own slow-maturing philosophical development, which owed nothing to the influence of other existentialist thinkers; his acknowledged affinities with these thinkers are an outcome of the course which he was compelled to

follow by the exigencies of his own thinking from an independent starting-point. He thought his way through Idealism and freed himself from its spell, because he found that it denatured man and the world. The concern of his philosophy is to restore and explore the veridical and vital experiences which spring from man and the world in the plenitude of their being and the responsiveness of their encounter.