Paris: Aubier, 1951. First edition. Two volumes. Small octavo. Original wrappers. Minor edgewear to wrappers and spotting to front wrapper of Vol. II; one-inch closed tear to top of first two leaves of Vol. II; minor spotting to page block of Vol. II; both volumes bright and largely uncut. Inscribed by Gabriel Marcel on title page to Vol. I. Very good. Item #112
Inscribed first edition, two-volume set collecting Gabriel Marcel’s (1889–1973) Gifford Lectures presented at the University of Aberdeen between 1949 and 1950 on the nature and purpose of philosophy, faith, and metaphysics in human life. Marcel was an influential French philosopher, playwright, and music critic who, in the tradition of Søren Kierkegaard, was also a renowned Christian existentialist. Marcel focused much of his thought on the displacement of the authentically human in an increasingly industrial and technological world and, like other existentialist thinkers of his time, sought to explain the roots of human alienation. The Mystery of Being is among Marcel’s most influential works and, together with Man Against Mass Society (1962), perhaps best summarizes his philosophical perspective on the role of philosophy and religion in the midst of modernity. Central to Marcel’s thesis is that we must learn to distinguish what are truly problems from what are truly mysteries. The former, according to Marcel, reside in the domain of science and require the objectification and abstraction of reality in order to render solutions that are universally available to us all; the latter realm of mystery, however, cannot be so conceptualized and abstracted. Rather, unlike the mundane “problem,” which a person holds at an objective distance, a “mystery” is, by its nature, a question in which the person is intimately involved and inexorably bound-up—one must therefore solve the mystery for themselves. Among those tasks that fall within the realm of mystery Marcel includes the embodiment of the human subject, mind/body unity, and the phenomena of faith, hope, and love. The Mystery of Being represents one of the towering achievements of modern existential thought. Gabriel Marcel has personally inscribed this first edition set on the title page of volume one.