Week 11 26/03/2013 06:28:00
Marcel‟s distinction between a problem and a mystery
It‟s a worry of modern culture, diagnosing culture as being too nihilistic.
The notion of mystery is a religious concept.
However, Marcel cannot rely on his personal views to express
everything. He brackets them when thinking and writing.
Examples of mysteries:
He does not want to use the term „mystery‟ in the same way that we do
in our time.
It should not be taken to be „what is not known (yet)‟ or „what is
The deeper parts of human existence are essentially mysteries.
Mortality demands to be thought of, but it is not a problem that cannot be
In fact, it should not be approached as a problem; it isn‟t one.
The same could be said for any other mystery, like suffering or
Any „problem‟ associated with the human condition is a non-issue.
It cannot be solved.
Love is a mystery; it can give rise to problems that may be resolved, but
remains a mystery.
Marcel is a philosopher of human existence, and naturally he believes that
we must deal with the meaning of it. He wants to find the ability to think
about the most important human experiences.
The problem with a technology-dominant worldview is that it
deprives human experiences of meaning. They are reduced to
problems and solutions are applied to them.
Humanity includes the desire to understanding of our own
experiences. We are not merely truth seekers, but also meaning
Suffering defines the human condition; we cannot escape it, so we must
find some meaning in it.
When one is confronted with suffering, he or she is likely to
confront it as a mere problem. Problems are things that one stands at an arm‟s reach from. A mystery is
not separate from oneself, it is part of one‟s being.
We should cope with our mysteries, not fix them. They have inevitable
consequences (especially mortality).
Part of what makes coping difficult is that there is no „best‟ method.
Each question must be undertaken by the individual.
What is it becoming of human freedom in the modern world:
[Context: this was written in France during the aftermath of the World
Freedom is the most important right.
Freedom is very much under threat.
In the middle part of the 20 Century, freedom was very much under
threat, and not only