By Thomas C. Anderson
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Extra info for Commentary on Gabriel Marcel's the Mystery of Being (Marquette Studies in Philosophy, No 46)
Human life, Marcel responds, is more than biological functions or pure spontaneity like that of animals. For one thing, a purely biological account overlooks the fact that human life is always centered on some goal beyond itself. For another, to view life as mere spontaneity ignores the fact that reflection is an essential ingredient of human life, for in human beings life becomes aware of itself. Reflection is an integral and normal part of our complex human experience, he insists; it is “one of life’s ways of The French term is repère meaning a spatial landmark, benchmark, or reference point from which you take your bearings.
As I read him, Marcel is not denying here that one can deliberately in thought set aside one’s experience and mentally doubt the existence of the world. Many philosophers have done so. Rather he is stating that I cannot doubt that the existence of the world “is given to me” in my experience. In fact, it is the most fundamental given of my experience, the bedrock experience which is “the continuous founda tion” of all my other experiences and knowledge. I should add that he does not claim that the existence of any and every particular thing is indubitable.
At this point it would have been helpful if he had offered descriptions of some of those everyday experiences which reveal the unity of my self with my body but, since he does not, let me offer a couple examples of my own. When a rock smashes my toe, the pain is not located in some object separate from me; I feel it in me. I feel the pain at and in my toe, which means that I feel my toe to be part of me. 12 EBHD, 47. 13 MJ, 320. No wonder he calls his epistemological position “existential realism,” EBHD, 47.
Commentary on Gabriel Marcel's the Mystery of Being (Marquette Studies in Philosophy, No 46) by Thomas C. Anderson