Gabriel Marcel - ExistentialismGabriel Marcel was first of all a christian existentialist. Because of his family background, it is stated, he had travelled around the world and acquainted himself with many foreign cultures. His special talent was to be found in artistic and philosophical spheres. He listened, composed and played music. He also wrote numerous plays and made existentialist positions known thorugh the stage.Philosophy was a hobby for Marcel and he was interested in human phenomenons on a very concrete level. He graduated as a teacher of philosophy, although he did not spend a day in that profession. In his thesis he focused on the philosophy of the Romantic Era - a fact which influenced his thought considerably. Marcel made a career as a writer, a critic, an editor and a publishing editor. He pursued his own existentialist philosophy on his own. His literary corpus resembled more a diary than a systematic study, because Marcel thought philosophy to be an open and neverending process. His thought was influenced also by Kierkegaard as soon as latter's book were available in french. We may divide Marcel's philosophy in four categories. These are the basic presuppositions of existence, the separation of mystery and problem, the separation of being and possession and the philosophy of hope. The basic presuppositions of philosophy consist of the body, the partaking and the commitment and the dialogue. The body, or "bodyness", is the being in the world. It makes possible to perceive other individuals and therefore enables two consciousnesses to meet. Partaking and commitment to life's challenges prevents the feeling of emptiness and creates a content for life. Life is a thing to commit to and something to be in communion with. Man must not step out of life. Man can also choose this step, but Marcel does not encourage it.
The dialogue simply means the interaction with other human beings, which develops the personality of the individual. To be authentically open to otherness is the precondition to the mystery of meeting. Problem and mystery are separated in Marcel's thought. Problems can be approached by means of primary reflection and they can be solved. Mysteries, however, can be handled only through secondary reflection and they are not solvable. Problems are solves, but for approachin mysteries the existential experience is needed. Being and possession is a distinction by which is the individual's attitude to life expressed. Worldly things can be possessed, but being is an expression of existing. Other person can not be possessed. Man is not "a thing", but a person who is. Consumption relates to possession as creation to being. Marcel's thought is a neverending pursuit after truth. He is contrasted to Sartre (whose philosophy was considered to be gloomy) as a philosopher of hope. The comparison becomes apparent also in the concept of freedom. Sartre emphasizes strongly the human freedom whereas Marcel stated that man had lost his freedom. Marcel thought that man must labor to get back his freedom. Existentialism was influenced by the pessimism aroused by First World War, but Marcel stated that hope sees the possibility of a new start. Marcel and Sartre differed also in their relations to other men, in which Marcel was admittedly more positive than his colleague. Hope is the basic state of Marcel's philosophy.