Presence and Immortality
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By Gabriel Marcel
The very notion of systematized thought horrified Gabriel Marcel. If the task of philosophy is “to think the existent and actual, it must apply itself not to the construction of a system, but to tracing out the richness and depth of the experience of participation.” In Presence and Immortality, Marcel brings his philosophy to light as a search, “a finding one’s way,” an endeavor which achieves a profound unity despite the seemingly haphazard nature of its process. The diary excerpts—Metaphysical Journals—offer a broad overview of the central features of Marcel’s thought and serve as the backdrop for the title essay, which takes up a problem central to the human experience: the death of a loved one. The volume’s concluding element, the unfinished play entitled The Unfathomable, emphasizes the profound connection between drama and philosophy in the mind of Marcel.
Through its series of introspective, impressionistic reflections on life and death, Presence and Immortality offers significant insight into the multiform themes and variations of Marcel’s philosophy.
Gabriel Marcel (1889–1973) was a French philosopher and dramatist, a convert to Roman Catholicism, and the most distinguished proponent of Christian existentialism of the twentieth century. His works in English include The Philosophy of Existence, Being and Having, and The Mystery of Being.