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

Volume 4, No. 2 ,Fall 2009

Cross-Cultural Hermeneutics and World Philosophy

Jaspers and World Philosophy: A Critical Appraisal
David A. Dilworth | SUNY at Stony Brook

Jaspers made a case for world philosophy as a unique exigency of our times, but in fact every age has been its own "modern world" in which philosophers have come forth to essay globally comprehensive systems. Jaspers promotes his own concept of "entering into the company of the Great Philosophers," but his Kierkegaardian existentialism tends to undercut any project of discovery of essential networking among them. His elaborate way of grouping the Great Philosophers is decidedly arbitrary. His focus on cultural diversity and philosophical individuality rather than cross-cultural and inter-textual access to perennially true ideas aligns with postmodern and multicultural projects in promoting differential historicist thinking. Against this tendency, and as illustration of its own heuristic of world-philosophical system-making, the essaty ends by suggesting that Jaspers' anthropocentric concepts of Dasein and Existenz can be subsumed within a broader metaphysical framework developed by Emerson and Peirce, each of the three authors regarded as contributing to a mutually illuminating paradigm.

Translation, Interpretation, and Conversation between Worlds
Stephen A. Erickson | Pomona College

I consider how our complex human world is undergoing significant transition in the early twenty-first century. A central part of my diagnosis and assessment involves an exploration of our increasing tendency to construe the human world through financial and economic lenses. Offering an axial account that stresses devolution from a more heightened human existence as a means of articulating our current situation, I state and work in part to remove impediments to such an interpretation and evaluation of the present. Having also explored a more Baconian explanation of our predicament, I turn to an adumbration of the notion of absence and its pervasive, if elusive subtextual presence in contemporary life, a concession to and, if I am correct, a vital first step to a transformative overcoming of post-foundational experience. I also reflect on culture's relation to spirit and the likely contours of that sort of vacated space we may well now be undergoing as our problematic residence. Underlying my reflections is both an appreciation of Jaspers and a recurrent sense that much of our current orientation toward our world must cultivate a receptive silence.

The Haunting Ghost of Heidegger on Campus
Malek K. Khazaee | California State University, Long Beach

The research universities have become an arm of the nation-state since the first half of the twentieth century. In his brief tenure as chancellor of Freiburg, Heidegger is the first figure in paving the way for higher education to serve the narrow national interests of the state. Nonetheless, Heidegger's case is minuscule compared with the massive war crimes of James B. Conant, the President of Harvard. This essay throws light on the collapse of the idea of the university in recent decades.

Heidegger and Jaspers on the Tragic
David Nichols | Michigan State University

Heidegger and Jaspers advanced different strategies for grasping "the tragic" and how to integrate it into the whole of one's philosophy. Their strategies worked in concert with the separate political paths that they chose in response to National Socialism. Moreover, their approaches to the tragic illustrate different ontological commitments. Heidegger adopts a tragic absolute—an ontological framework whereby being itself remains tragic. But Jaspers assigns tragedy to the immanence of human finitude, surrounded in turn by a non-tragic source of transcendence. All of this comes to bear on the two philosophers' salvation motifs for history. Heidegger does not anticipate a historical deliverance that eclipses the tragic so much as a saving power that grows within it. Jaspers, however, argues after the war that "tragedy is not enough" for understanding the historical development of human consciousness. I make the case in this essay that Heidegger's tragic ontology better equips him for addressing the gravity of human finitude. Nevertheless, he could have gained political and historical perspective from Jaspers' openness to cross-cultural influences.

Human Suffering as a Challenge for the Meaning of Life
Ulrich Diehl | Universität Halle-Wittenberg, Germany

When people suffer they always suffer as a whole human being. The emotional, cognitive and spiritual suffering of human beings cannot be completely separated from all other kinds of suffering, such as from harmful natural, ecological, political, economic and social conditions. In reality they interact with each other and influence each other. Human beings do not only suffer from somatic illnesses, physical pain and the lack of decent opportunities to satisfy their basic vital, social and emotional needs. They also suffer when they are not able to experience and grasp any meaning of life even if such suffering is not quite as obvious as most forms of physical, social and emotional suffering. Suffering from the lack for the sense of the meaning of life is a special form of emotional, cognitive and spiritual suffering. Although all human beings share the same basic human need for some meaning of life, the fulfilment of this need is highly individual and personal. Although all forms of human suffering can be a challenge to the meaning of life, the personal conditions of suffering usually are a stronger challenge for the meaning of life. Among the personal conditions of human suffering, the Grenzsituationen cannot be cancelled or raised at all, but only accepted and coped with as existential aspects of the conditio humana. According to Karl Jaspers these are: death, suffering, struggling, guilt, and failing. The challenge for human beings to cope with these Grenzsituationen is a way to move from the mere Being-there to true human Existence.


Founding Editors
Alan M. Olson
Helmut Wautischer

Spring / Fall

Sponsored by
Karl Jaspers Society
of North America
Boston, MA

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