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


Volume 6, No. 2 Fall 2011

World Philosophy, Axial Age, and Psychology




Affinities Between William James And Karl Jaspers
Raymond Langley | Manhattanville College, Purchase, New York

William James and Karl Jaspers share a skepticism about scientific knowledge which provides the basis for their modern methodologies in psychology and their sensitivity to nihilism argues against both epistemological and ontological absolutism. Both radical empiricism and periechontology are founded on recognition of human freedom and their respective humanisims have implications for metaphysics.


Is A Renewal Of The Axial Age Possible?
Stephen A. Erickson | Pomona College

In this essay I explore the interrelated notions of axial existence and redemptive Truth. My concern is in regard to why their existential correlates, traditional Western spiritual life and Transcendent revelation, seem to be absent (missing), what this might mean, and what might be involved in their renewal. Part of my reflection engages the possibility that axial space may have been lost or that the anticipated arrival of a "new god" might engender or alter such a space. In this regard I am mindful of various sentiments regarding the preparation for and awaiting of "new gods"—most likely a highly metaphysical set of notions. Also considered is the seeming (and perhaps intractable) centrality of the financial to the American temperament. The cultural notion—European in resonance—that voids are endemic to our human lives, and the current American political scene with its growing negativity toward Government are reflected on as well. I explore whether the present attitude toward government, coming from many in society, may fit unusually well—however unwittingly and with crucial alterations—into a standard Christian theological model of salvation and its impediments. In the course of this exploration I reflect on a few ways in which the spiritual and the socio-economic may come to be significantly reconfigured in relation to each other. Not wishing to advocate any particular content, I end my thoughts with a meditation regarding ours as an in-between time of no longer and not yet, what I have elsewhere called a thresholding time.


The Modern Tripartition, the Axial Age Thesis, and East-West Philosophical Communication
Rajesh C. Shukla | Saint Paul University, Canada

In this essay I examine the relationship of religion, philosophy, and science. I argue that despite their apparent epistemological and methodological differences, these three modes of human enquiry can be aligned together in thought as well as in experience. I contend that science provides us with contingent cognitions and that all such cognitions stand in an acute need of an ontological principle that can support them. Furthermore, following Karl Jaspers I suggest that the knowledge of Being necessitates a transcendence of the natural world and scientific framework associated with it. I conclude that Jaspers notion of "encompassing" and Buddhist theory of emptiness can be useful not only in resolving the conflict between religion, philosophy, and science, but also in fostering philosophical communication between East and West.


Morbid Psyche and Apocalypsis: Jaspers, Baudrillard, and Altizer
Alina N. Feld | Hofstra University

In General Psychopathology, Jaspers' philosophical hermeneutics of pathological conditions, melancholy, depression, and schizophrenia proposes the existence of a correlation between pathology and creativity, metaphysical and religious worldviews. This correlation provides the existential ground for his notion of critical liminality (boundary or limit situation) as sine qua non thresholds to the dialectics of the abysmal and the transcendent. Jean Baudrillard and Thomas J. J. Altizer propose a cultural hermeneutic and a radical apocalyptic theology, respectively, that both investigate the significance of postmodern depression. Postmodern depression lacks creativity. While Baudrillard interprets it as a symptom of our virtual reality of simulacra that has lost its flesh, Altizer reads in it the signs of the end of Western self-consciousness and, ultimately, the herald of apocalypse.  Jaspers' hermeneutical correlation still stands: depression is a cipher for the critical liminality of our postmodern times, times of apocalyptic radical endings and new beginnings; a cipher and ground of a new axial age.

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Comments on Alina Feld's Morbid Psyche and Apocalypsis
Lydia Voronina | Independent Scholar

In my comments to Alina Feld’s paper I exercise a hermeneutical approach to problems discussed—the nature of melancholy, its relation to the death of god, and the collapse of the world as it is explicated by Karl Jaspers, Thomas Altizer, and Jean Baudrillard. I extend Feld’s two major forms of melancholy—melancholia per se and apathy—into four: romantic, spiritual, tragic and dreadful melancholy applying the criteria of status of Self, its reflexive functions, and level of conscious engagement in experiencing any condition a person finds himself in. This allows me to deconstruct the content of the end of the world and answer the question why in Nietzsche the death of god yielded an authentic strong and creative man whereas in Altizer and Baudrillard the same cultural event led to the total destruction of man and his world. I came to conclusion that in contrast to the common European ways of understanding the meaning of falling out of being, seizing to be, vanishing reality Buddhist ways of handling emptiness and non-existence is more productive since they treat the Self as more complex entity within which emptying Self on one level leads to a stronger reflective Self on the other level.

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A Heideggerian Approach to Empathy: Authentic Being With Others
Lou Agosta | The Chicago School of Professional Psychology

In Heidegger's Being and Time the alternative of inauthentically being with other people is contrasted with authentically being alone in the face of death, one's own individualizing and inevitable demise (in which "demise" is understood as the disintegration of the physical body). The third choice of authentically being with other human beings is neglected by Heidegger in Being and Time, pushed down into a few parenthetical remarks that dismiss empathy (Einfühlung). The possibility of authentic human being with others is delimited but, for the most part, not developed. This article gathers together those remarks and amplifies them with an analysis of human being with other human beings by applying the basic Heideggerian distinctions of affectedness, understanding, interpretation, assertion, and speech to an interpretation and implementation of empathy. Insight from the later Heidegger is integrated. A definition of empathy is produced in the spirit of Heidegger's distinctions. This results in clearing the way for an implementation of empathy as the foundation of human interrelatedness and the implementation of the missing chapter from Being and Time on Heidegger's "Special Hermeneutic of Empathy."


Review of Lou Agosta, Empathy in the Context of Philosophy
Gladys L. Portuondo | Independent Scholar

This review was presented on April 20, 2011 at the American Philosophical Association Pacific Division Annual Meeting in San Diego, CA. The session, Author meets Critics: Empathy in the Context of Philosophy, was organized by the Karl Jaspers Society of North America.


Czesława Piecuch| Pedagogical University Krakow, Poland

A report by the President of the Polish Karl Jaspers Society on the Second Jaspers Conference in 2011. Translated from Polish by Krystyna Górniak-Kocikowska.



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