Marcel, Gabriel

Marcel, Gabriel märsĕlˈ [key] 1889–1973, French philosopher, dramatist, and critic, b. Paris. A leading Christian existentialist, he became a Roman Catholic in 1929. He called himself a “concrete philosopher,” indicating a reaction to his early idealism. He saw philosophy not as formulation of a system but rather as a personal reflection on the human situation. He held that the philosopher must be engagé, or personally involved, because existence and the human person are more significant than any abstraction. Involvement must be with other persons. To counter the impersonality of the mechanistic modern world and to recall man to an awareness of the mystery of being, Marcel spoke of the development of the individual in person-to-person dialogue. Human existence finds its earthly satisfaction in a God-centered communion of persons that is characterized by mutual fidelity and hope. His chief works include Metaphysical Journal (1927), Being and Having (1935), The Mystery of Being (1950), Presence and Immortality (1959), and a collection of essays, Philosophy of Existentialism (1961). His best-known plays are Un Homme de Dieu (1925) and Le Chemin de Crete (1936).

See his Tragic Wisdom and Beyond (tr. 1973); studies by S. Cain (1963, repr. 1979), J. B. O'Malley (1967), and K. T. Gallagher (1975).

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