Doing Philosophy Personally: Thinking about Metaphysics, Theism, and Antiblack Racism

Doing Philosophy Personally: Thinking about Metaphysics, Theism, and Antiblack Racism

Copyright Date: 2013
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 176
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Doing Philosophy Personally: Thinking about Metaphysics, Theism, and Antiblack Racism
    Book Description:

    Gabriel Marcel's reflective method is animated by his extra-philosophical commitment to battle the ever-present threat of dehumanization in late Western modernity. Unfortunately, Marcel neglected to examine what is perhaps the most prevalent threat of dehumanization in Western modernity: antiblack racism. Without such an account, Marcel's reflective method is weakened because it cannot live up to its extra-philosophical commitment. Tunstall remedies this shortcoming in his eloquent new volume.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-5161-2
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
    (pp. 1-18)

    I occupy many social roles and have undergone many life-shaping events. I am the youngest son of the late James R. Tunstall and Delsie M. Tunstall; the father of two sons, Anthony Elijah and Christopher James; the husband of Crystal Nicole Scott-Tunstall; the uncle of eight surviving nieces and nephews, one of whom has a few children of her own; a friend to fewer than twenty people; an associate and colleague to many more people; an author of articles on a variety of topics, including aesthetics, Africana philosophy, pragmatism, religious ethics, and social and political philosophy; an author of a...

    (pp. 19-33)

    Gabriel Marcel’s theistic philosophy traditionally has been labeled as a form of religious existentialism. While this is an accurate description of Marcel’s philosophy, I prefer to describe his philosophy as a sort ofreflective method. This way of describing his philosophy allows us to trace it back to its Kantian transcendentalist roots. Once we recognize the Kantian transcendentalist roots of his reflective method, we can better appreciate why he performs a detailed examination of the meaningfulness of human existence through such detrimental, life-affirming, or life-altering events as the death of a loved one, religious faith, despair, communion, hope, and love:...

    (pp. 34-56)

    In this chapter I will examine how Marcel refines his reflective method, especially the dialectical relation between primary reflection and secondary reflection, over the course of his career. To perform this task, I will assess how Gabriel Marcel refines his reflective method, especially the dialectical relation between primary reflection and secondary reflection, over the course of his career. First, I trace briefly how he refines his reflective method from his January 21, 1933, address to the Philosophical Society of Marseilles, “Concrete Approaches to Investigating the Ontological Mystery,” to his 1968 conversations with Paul Ricoeur published inTragic Wisdom and Beyond....

    (pp. 57-79)

    One could interpret Gabriel Marcel’s religious existentialism, or what I prefer to calls hisreflective method, as being founded upon at least two extraphilosophical commitments. First, Marcel’s reflective method is founded upon a commitment to an ethicoreligious insight where the highest ontological exigency for human persons is to participate in being.¹ Second, his reflective method is an outgrowth of his struggle against the ever-present specter of dehumanization in late Western modernity, as embodied in our current technocratic socio-historical milieu. Chapter 2 has already explored the first extraphilosophical commitments mentioned above. This chapter explores Marcel’s second extraphilosophical commitment.

    The experiential origins...

    (pp. 80-100)

    To understand why I criticize Marcel’s religious existentialism for neglecting one of the most prominent forms of depersonalization in the twentieth century, antiblack racism, I should summarize Gordon’s existential phenomenological account of antiblack racism. However, it is not within the purview of this chapter to examine Gordon’s Africana existential phenomenological account of anitblack racism in detail, because doing so would require more than a chapter. Rather, what I will do is explicate some of the central phenomenological concepts used in his account of antiblack racism—namely,antiblack racism,bad faith, andblackness. Furthermore, I shall limit my examination to how...

    (pp. 101-112)

    Given that Marcel asserts that one of a philosopher’s fundamental commitments is to “condemn absolutely every kind of racism,”¹ how is it possible for Marcel himself to neglect the depersonalizing effects of antiblack racism on Africana persons in his sociopolitical thought? Did not Marcel condemn legalized segregation that African Americans suffered during the early 1960s throughout the American South?² Michael Novak recalls that while Marcel visited the United States in the fall of 1961: “He was severely distressed by the situation of the negro in the United States—on trains, in restaurants, in hotels.”³ Marcel then told Novak that he...

  11. CONCLUSION: Imagining an Antiracist Humanistic Theism
    (pp. 113-122)

    I think that we are now in a position to outline, in very broad strokes, a Marcellian reflective method that takes seriously Gordon’s existential phenomenological account of antiblack racism. Such a modified Marcellian reflective method is still a phenomenological metaphysics. What I mean byphenomenological metaphysicsis a metaphysics in which one refuses to investigate the essential structures of a mind-independent reality and concentrates, instead, on examining those ethical and religious values (for example, hope and faith) that enable persons to be closer to one another in a spiritual sense. Yet, metaphysics in this sense transcends philosophy proper; it involves...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 123-154)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 155-172)
  14. Index
    (pp. 173-176)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 177-180)