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Online Great Books Podcast

Oct 17, 2019

This week, Scott and Karl read Chapters 1-3 of Gabriel Marcel’s Man Against Mass Society.

Mass society doesn’t just include people for Marcel, he also includes art, media, and technology. Marcel is concerned with human existence, or more specifically, with the quality of human life in relation to the transcendent. 

Written in 1952, Marcel’s discussion of these topics is remarkably contemporary. He believes we are in danger of losing our humanity and certain “techniques of degradation” in modern systems are the root cause.

Scott and Karl talk in length of these dangers and the problems that lie with giving in to a spirit of abstractions. For Marcel, the problem with abstraction lies in the ability to fascinate, its tendency to draw us into thinking that the abstraction itself is the reality in which we move and relate with one another. 

In Karl’s own words, “if all you can get into your mind space is thin gruel, that’s all you can digest.”

How can we avoid flat, diluted access to the transcendent that leaves us all with the same dull experience? 

Tune in to this week's episode and let us know your thoughts!