Gabriel Marcel delivered two series of ten lectures on the ‘mystery of being’, comprised of ordered reflections on nature and the goal of philosophy from an existentialist standpoint. In the first volume, Reflection and Mystery, he explains that rather than proceeding by expounding a system, his philosophy proceeds in a fashion more akin to a journey. First, he examines the need for philosophy as arising from a certain exigence or disquiet in the seeker, through lived situations, expectations and truth. The lectures go on to explore the distinction between truth and universal validity alongside the relation of a sense of the ego to feeling and to situations in what he describes as our broken world. Volume I concludes with a discussion of the quality of mystery, which not only prompts philosophical enquiry but also coincides with the depths it reaches. Volume II takes the significance of mystery as its starting point, and Faith and Reality as its title. In the first four lectures, Marcel presents an existentialist response to metaphysics, outlining his understanding of existence and being and the value and purpose of ontology. He then distinguishes opinion and faith, characterising faith as ‘believing in’ rather than ‘believing that’. This leads neatly to his existentialist interpretation of Christian themes such as prayer and humility, freedom and grace, and then testimony, death and hope. He concludes by showing the boundaries of philosophy as he sees it, past which the ‘fires of revelation’ can take over.
- Gabriel Marcel