New PDF release: Commentary on Gabriel Marcel's the Mystery of Being

By Thomas C. Anderson

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Additional resources for Commentary on Gabriel Marcel's the Mystery of Being (Marquette Studies in Philosophy, No 46)

Example text

From these examples he draws the following conclusions. Reflection is a personal act that no one can do for another; it occurs when some obstacle or break interrupts the normal routine of my life and forces me to pay close attention to my experience; it occurs only when something valuable is at stake. Before continuing his analysis of reflection, he pauses to address the objection that it stifles life and its vital impulses [I, 80-82]. Human life, Marcel responds, is more than biological functions or pure spontaneity like that of animals.

No doubt, it is true that we can not really separate an existent and its existence into two separate entities. By using secondary reflection which recaptures our basic experience of the unity of an existent and its  MJ, 321.  MJ, 322. Volume 1, Chapter 5 45 existence, we overcome primary reflection’s separation of objects from their existence. Nevertheless, the fact that things come into and go out of existence would seem to mean that their existence is not indissolubly united to them. It is also true that nothing is more fundamental in our lived experience than the existence of our selves and the world and that means, as Marcel holds, that there is no more basic datum from which I could infer my existence or the world’s or could even doubt their existence.

In the lengthy quotation above, Marcel refers to the experience of things other than the self as the “ground-base of human knowledge” which means that any reflective consciousness of one’s own self and its states is a “derivative act” [I, 52] rooted in that basic experience. His point is that in order to become conscious of my self and my conscious acts by reflection, I must first of all be nonreflectively directly conscious of things other than the self, else I have nothing to reflect upon. And, just as my basic nonreflective acts pass beyond or transcend my self by being aware of things in the world, so too, he states, my reflective acts of self-awareness pass beyond or transcend the self which I reflect upon—and this characteristic of consciousness, its “passing beyond,” he asserts, “is enough in itself to dispose of the idea of consciousness as a mere mirror” of the body [I, 52].

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