Marcel’s term for ‘disposability’ is ‘disponibilité’. Here it is translated as ‘availability’:
[Availability] of course does not mean emptiness, as in the case of an available dwelling (local disponible), but it means much rather an aptitude to give oneself to anything which offers, and to bind oneself by the gift. Again, it means to transform circumstances into opportunities, we might say favours, thus participating in the shaping of our own destiny and marking it with our seal. It has sometimes been said of late , “Personality is vocation”. It is true if we restore its true value to the term vocation, which is in reality a call, or more precisely the response to a call. We must not, however, be led astray here by any mythological conception. It depends, in fact, on me whether the call is recognised as a call, and strange as it may seem, in this matter it is true to say that it comes both from me and from outside me at one and the same time; or rather, in it we become aware of that most intimate connection between what comes from me and what comes from outside, a connection which is nourishing or constructive and cannot be reliquished without the ego wasting and tending toward death.
Perhaps we might make this clearer by pointing out that each of us from the very beginning, appears to himself and to others as a particular problem for which the circumstances, whatever they may be, are not enough to provide a solution. I use the term problem absolutely against my will, for it seems to be quite inadequate. Is it not obvious that if I consider the other person as a sort of mechanism exterior to my ego, a mechanism of which I must discover the spring or manner of working, even supposing I manage to take him to pieces in the process, I shall never succeed in obtaining anything but a completely exterior knowledge of him, which is in a way the very denial of his real being? We must even go further and say that such a knowledge is in reality sacrilegious and destructive, it does no less than denude its object of the one thing he has which is of value and so it degrades him effectively. That means–and there is nothing which is more important to keep in view–that the knowledge of an individual being cannot be separated from the act of love or charity by which this being is accepted in all which makes of him a unique creature or, if you like, the image of God…
I supply this quotation as a commentary on and extension of my earlier post, Making Ourselves Disposable. One striking thing about this, for anyone who is a fan of Cavell’s work, and especially of his essay, “The Availability of the Later Wittgenstein”, is how much like Cavell it sounds, and how much light it sheds on at least one meaning of the title of his essay. I am quite sure that one sense of ‘availability’ in the title is Marcel’s sense. The second paragraph reads like a digest of Cavell’s thinking about Other Minds, setting up, as it does, Cavell’s crucial understanding of acknowledgement.