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Problematic Man

Problematic Man

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Modernity has expanded upon the Psalmist’s admonition to put one’s trust not in princes. Power can assume, to borrow Gabriel Marcel’s phrase, an “infinity of masks”; yet these masks only obscure the vacuity of ideology and its inability to save man from himself. Problematic Man pursues both diagnosis and prognosis of the existential condition of modern man. Between the “death of God” which Nietzsche proclaimed and the atmosphere of anxiety, insecurity, and meaninglessness in which man now draws his daily breath stands an indisputable connection. To parse this connection, and thus bring forth something approaching a solution to “problematic man,” Marcel brings into conversation an array of philosophers and philosophies, ranging from Aristotle to Augustine, from Pascal and Kierkegaard to Heidegger and Sartre.

Man has lost his divine reference… Might not the death of God, in the exact sense that Nietzsche has given to these words, be at the origin of the fact that man has become for himself a question without an answer? ( Gabriel Marcel)

Elegant in style and subtle in judgment, Marcel contrasts modernity’s inheritance of unprecedented scientific and technological progress with its spoils of unhappiness and unease and concludes emphatically that a re-integration of the Gospel is the fundamental solution to Problematic Man.

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.

 

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