Existenz Menu
An International Journal in Philosophy, Religion, Politics, and the Arts
ISSN 1932-1066

Volume 2, Nos 1-2, Fall 2007

Jaspers in Perspective

Jaspers' Denkwerk: Sinn, Wirkung, Aktualität
Leonard H. Ehrlich | University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Jaspers' thinking is motivated by transcending reason, radical time-consciousness, and the phenomenon of spiritual creativity and value-directedness. The fundamental question of truth for time-bound man is at the core of Jaspers' thinking, which he takes up with respect to mankind’s age-old experience with the tradition of philosophical, religious, and literary thought. His works attain significance when historically diverse fundamental truths meet in communicative openness and tolerance. This pertains to Jaspers’ history of philosophy, to political thought, the philosophy of religion, and his vision of a 'world philosophy' no less than to his systematic works. Jaspers’s influence can be measured by his world-wide appeal.


Karl Jaspers and the Concept of Philosophical Faith
Armin E. Wildermuth | University of St. Gallen, Switzerland

The essay reflects on the ontological basis of Karl Jaspers' concept of philosophical faith. As a comparison with Heidegger's existential ontology makes clear, Jaspers stresses much more the act of philosophizing than philosophy itself. In one sense, Jaspers' philosophy has a deontological and open aspect, in another sense this openness is threatened by his theory of the encompassing and his dogmatic understanding of Kant’s theoretical instruments. Furthermore, Jaspers existential philosophy, and especially his concept of philosophical faith, can be elucidated by a confrontation with the existential philosophy of his colleague at the University of Basel, Heinrich Barth, the brother of the theologian Karl Barth. This philosophy was developed out of the basic ideas of the Marburg School, namely from Hermann Cohen and Paul Natorp. There was a chance for fruitful cooperation between Jaspers and Heinrich Barth, two philosophers with a Kantian background and in opposition to the dominating ontologism of Heidegger after the Second World War, but it was a missed opportunity. Jaspers' existential philosophizing pushed him into an almost prophetic posture, but his concept of philosophical faith, publicly known since his "atom book" of 1959, still commands global attention.

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Jesus as "Paradigmatic Individual" in Karl Jaspers' Great Philosophers, Vol. I
Alan M. Olson | Boston University

Jaspers ends his Jesus entry in The Great Philosophers with words of regret: "The historic reality of Jesus, the man, so extremely important for us in the history of philosophy, is without interest to the Doctors of the Faith, either amongst the rebels or the orthodox believers." This essay attempts to unpack what Jaspers means by this assertion.

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Chiffer, Symbol und analogia entis. Karl Jaspers und Paul Tillich im Vergleich
Werner Schüßler | University of Trier, Germany

This essay brings out the common ground and the differences between the doctrine of ciphers of Karl Jaspers ("the cipher as the language of transcendence") and the symbol theory of Protestant theologian and philosopher of religion, Paul Tillich ("the symbol as the language of relig-ion"). According to Jaspers, ciphers do say more about existence than about transcendence, while, according to Tillich, symbols tell us something about the divine. In the final analysis, this decisive difference between the two conceptions is grounded in their positions concerning analogia entis. On the basis of his philosophical premises Jaspers rejects it, while Tillich affirms it.


Computer-Mediated Communication and Criticisms of the Internet: Hubert Dreyfus' Criticism from the Perspective of Karl Jaspers' Philosophy of Communication
Paul Sollie | University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

Going on the insight of existentialist and phenomenological philosophy, the American philosopher Hubert Dreyfus has launched a vigorous criticism of the "computer revolution," the Internet and computer-mediated communication (CMC) in the past decades. However, it is often hard to spell out the practical and moral consequences of his arguments. The weakness of the arguments in this respect seems to be related to more general features of technology development and its ethical evaluation, such as the fact that technological devices open up new and complementary possibilities (for instance of communication) without, necessarily, taking away others. In this essay I discuss whether and if so, how, computer-mediated communication reflects, influences, and changes fundamental structures of human communication. This analysis is carried out against the background of Karl Jaspers' existentialist philosophy of communication and technology. Karl Jaspers' philosophy will be explored and presented as a framework that provides fruitful insights for the discussion on CMC.


Jaspers' Early Scientific Approach in the Light of Alexander von Humboldt's Cosmos
Suzanne Kirkbright | Birmingham

Jaspers' book, Psychology of World Views (1919), includes basic tenets of his critical, at times even controversial approach to modern science. In his transitional work, Jaspers acknowledged the spirit of 19th Century scholarship, as still alive in Alexander von Humboldt's magnum opus, Cosmos (1858). At the same time, Jaspers counteracted his appreciation of 'Classical' scholarship by supplying a critique of 'modern' man, whose unique ability is to remain authentic and to expose 'shells' of living in his ideologically changed world.

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Founding Editors
Alan M. Olson
Helmut Wautischer

Spring / Fall

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Boston, MA

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