HOMO SPECTANS AND HOMO PARTICEPS: THE NON-OPTICAL PHILOSOPHY OF GABRIEL MARCEL

WILLIAM NICHOLAS COONEY, Marquette University

Abstract

Gabriel Marcel's philosophy does not take the form of a systematic treatise. This is due both to his stylistic preference and to the nature of his subject. I attempt to understand Marcel's thought by asking the following question: How does the way in which man approaches experience, either as spectator or as participant, influence his relations to the world, to other persons, and to himself? The spectator's relation to the world is severed due to his desire to have the world objectively; he attempts to view the world "as-object" from some standpoint outside it. Marcel's rejection of idealism comes into play here. The final stage of this critique reveals existence as something which cannot be understood by a being who is outside of the world. What is required, therefore, is incarnation. The spectator, however, rejects incarnation and ends up with a world Marcel refers to as the "broken world." Alienation also occurs within the spectator's relation to other persons who become, for the spectator, mere objects. Certain key terms of intersubjectivity are examined here. Marcel's critique of Jean Paul Sartre is also outlined. Sartre is taken by Marcel to be a representative of the visual point of view. An analysis of relevant sections in Sartre's Being and Nothingness bears this interpretation out. Spectatorship towards the other results in a reduction of the person to his use; value, therefore, becomes definable in terms of output. This unfortunate circumstance is revealed in an analysis of modern technological thinking which is increasingly becoming a kind of thinking which is influenced by a "technology of degradation." The spectator himself falls prey to his own voyeurism and becomes alienated from himself. Here I explore Marcel's thesis that "the other is the medium of my being." I suggest that "medium" be here understood in the sense of the creator's medium. Marcel's theory of creativity, therefore, becomes focal. In my conclusion I outline more directly what a philosophy of participation seeks to achieve. Marcel's distinctions within thinking are examined. "Secondary" reflection is interpreted as non-visual thinking. To become a participant man must overthrow spectatorship at the levels of world, other and self.

Recommended Citation

WILLIAM NICHOLAS COONEY, "HOMO SPECTANS AND HOMO PARTICEPS: THE NON-OPTICAL PHILOSOPHY OF GABRIEL MARCEL" (January 1, 1983). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8410835.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8410835

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