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

Volume 4, No. 1, Spring 2009

Cross-Cultural Hermeneutics and World Philosophy

Jaspers, Heidegger, and Arendt: On Politics, Science, and Communication
Babette Babich | Fordham University

Heidegger's 1950 claim to Jaspers (later repeated in his Spiegel interview), that his Nietzsche lectures represented a "resistance" to Nazism is premised on the understanding that he and Jaspers have of the place of science in the Western world. Thus Heidegger can emphasize Nietzsche's epistemology, parsing Nietzsche's will to power, contra Nazi readings, as the metaphysical culmination of the domination of the West by scientism and technologism. It is in this sense that Heidegger argues that German Nazism is "in essence" the same as Soviet Bolshevism and American capitalism. Jaspers himself had likewise emphasized the Will to Power by contrast with the doctrine of eternal recurrence. Heidegger differs from Jaspers (as from their mutual student Hannah Arendt) inasmuch as Jaspers preserves an enthusiasm for the possibility of scientific certainty while yet recognizing (as Heidegger does) a strong sense of the limits of science. None of the three can correctly be labeled anti-scientific. The essay closes by recalling Arendt's reflections on the very possibility of resistance using the example of Jaspers' own resistance to contemporary political events.

The Global History of Humankind in Karl Jaspers
Joanne Miyang Cho | William Patterson University

This essay examines some key aspects in Karl Jaspers' global history of humankind. First, I explore Jaspers' idea of civilizational continuity and its example in the Axial Age. The Axial Age concentrated on the simultaneous, but independent, origins of civilizations from 800 to 200 BC. While it had a clear cosmopolitan intent, it was, however, vulnerable to the charge of lacking empirical evidence. Second, I argue that Jaspers' idea of mutual civilizational grafting is a better way of establishing civilizational continuity than the Axial Age, since it is based upon empirical history. Using historical scholarship, I elaborate on the example of the relationship between the Jesuits and the upper class Chinese, including Emperor Kangxi. They showed serious commitment toward each other's culture, even to the point of mutually adopting cultural practice. Thus, Jaspers' idea of mutual grafting refutes the charge that his global history would be too superficial.

World Philosophy and Philosophical Faith
Andreas Cesana | University of Mainz, Germany

The idea of a future world philosophy and the notion of philosophical faith are the two leading concepts in Jaspers' thinking after 1945. "World philosophy" emphasizes the unity of philosophical thought; "philosophical faith" underlines the subjectivity of "faith reasoning." Is it possible to reconcile these contradicting concepts?—The new global situation must have consequences for the concept of philosophy itself. For Jaspers, the advancement of philosophy to a post-European philosophy is inevitable. His believe in a future world philosophy is based on his reliance on philosophia perennis. The perennial philosophy belongs neither to a certain time nor to a certain cultural tradition; it belongs to man. Philosophy is undergoing a second fundamental transformation: Philosophy and science are loosing their previous unity. Scientific rationality and philosophical reason are dealing with different dimensions. In the age of science, philosophy takes the shape of philosophical faith. Faith is either personal certainty based on reflection, or it is grounded in religious revelation. This makes philosophical faith incompatible with religious faith. For Jaspers, philosophical faith is not a new form of thinking but a return to the nonreligious origin of philosophy and therefore a return to the philosophia perennis. This solves the alleged contradiction between the concepts of world philosophy and philosophical faith.

Karl Jaspers and Alain Badiou on the Destiny of Philosophy
Alina Feld | Hofstra University

The essay investigates Jaspers' vision of the future of philosophy in light of Alain Badiou's critique of postmodern thought from the perspective of his notion of philosophy as a seizure of evental and void truths. For both Jaspers and Badiou the future of philosophy depends entirely on the destiny of truth as the outcome of the hermeneutic battle between philosophy and sophistry-dogmatism, between philosophy and anti-philosophy. Truth is singular universality, co-eval with the subject, real though elusive, an event breaking into the evental situation, or made possible by the limit of Existenz, a rupture of the void in the texture of being or an encounter with Transcendence. World Philosophy can be a fulfillment of the figura of the Axial Age philosophia perennis only to the extent to which philosophy is able to remain courageous in its faithfulness, discerning, and in reserve toward the fourfold truth operations.

Cultural Factors in the North American Reception of Karl Jaspers
Alan M. Olson | Boston University

This essay examines some of the cultural, religious, political, and ethnic factors having a bearing on the Jaspers reception amongst English speaking scholars in North America during the last half of the twentieth century. The essay begins by elaborating Paul Tillich's observation that the two leading, but quite different, German figures in existentialism during the 1950s were Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger. According to Tillich, Karl Jaspers represents the classical tradition of German humanism and, like Kant, is concerned with "what it means to be a person." Heidegger, by contrast, represents the more arcane tradition of German mysticism and is concerned with "the meaning of Being." Olson attempts to explain the magnitude of the Heidegger reception vis-à-vis the far more limited reception of Jaspers by scrutinizing various historical, religious, cultural, and ethnic factors in the makeup of American intellectual life, including the factor of ressentiment amongst German-Americans following World Wars I and II, all of which play a role in the receptions of Jaspers and Heidegger and also factor into the historic divide between the so-called "Analytical" and "Continental" camps of philosophy in America. The essay concludes by commenting on the present and future state of Jaspers Studies in North America, especially in the areas of the philosophy of communication, the philosophy of history, and world philosophy.

The Sixth International Jaspers Conference: Report from Seoul, Korea
Krystyna Gorniak-Kocikowska | Southern Connecticut State University, New Haven

The Sixth International Jaspers Conference, organized by the International Association of Jaspers Societies, took place in conjunction with the XXII. World Congress of Philosophy in Seoul, South Korea, from July 30 through August 5, 2008. The theme of the conference was Cross-Cultural Conflicts and Communication: Rethinking Jaspers' Philosophy Today (Kulturkonflikte und Kommunikation: Zur Aktualität von Jaspers' Philosophie). The conference was bilingual; papers and discussions were held in German and English. For the most part, the conference participants were fluent enough in both languages to follow presentations and discussions conducted in either language.


Founding Editors
Alan M. Olson
Helmut Wautischer

Spring / Fall

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of North America
Boston, MA

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