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Karl Jaspers

Geburtstag: 23. Februar 1883
Todesdatum: 26. Februar 1969
Andere Namen: Karl Theodor Jaspers

Karl Theodor Jaspers war ein deutscher Psychiater und Philosoph von internationaler Bedeutung. Er lehrte u. a. in Basel und wurde 1967 Schweizer Staatsbürger.

Jaspers gilt als herausragender Vertreter der Existenzphilosophie, die er vom Existentialismus Jean-Paul Sartres strikt unterschied. Er war zunächst Lehrer und anschließend lebenslanger Freund von Hannah Arendt, mit der ihn auch ein jahrzehntelanger Briefwechsel verband. Auch mit Martin Heidegger stand er in Briefwechsel, der – in der Zeit des Nationalsozialismus unterbrochen – nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg nur noch spärlich war. Mit Max Weber, Hans Walter Gruhle und Kurt Schneider verband ihn eine langjährige Freundschaft. Enge Kontakte unterhielt er auch zu Alfred Weber, Eberhard Gothein und Gustav Radbruch. Jaspers gehörte zum Gesprächskreis um Marianne Weber. Nach 1945 war er maßgeblich an der Neugründung der Universität Heidelberg beteiligt und trat dadurch in eine lebenslange Beziehung mit deren erstem Rektor nach der Wiedereröffnung, Karl Heinrich Bauer.

Als Arzt hat Jaspers grundlegend zur wissenschaftlichen Entwicklung der Psychiatrie beigetragen. Sein philosophisches Werk wirkt insbesondere in den Bereichen der Religionsphilosophie, Geschichtsphilosophie und der Interkulturellen Philosophie. Mit seinen einführenden Schriften zur Philosophie, aber auch mit seinen Schriften zu politischen Fragen wie zur Atombombe, zur Demokratieentwicklung in Deutschland und zur Wiedervereinigung hat er hohe Auflagen erreicht und ist einem breiteren Publikum bekannt geworden.

„Alles Schöpferische ist unvoraussehbar.“

—  Karl Jaspers

Die Atombombe und die Zukunft des Menschen

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„The teacher of love teaches struggle. The teacher of lifeless isolation from the world teaches peace.“

—  Karl Jaspers

Der Lehrer der Liebe lehrt den Kampf, der Lehrer der lieblosen Isolierung von aller Welt aber die Ruhe.
Psychology of World Views (1919)

„Man, if he is to remain man, must advance by way of consciousness.“

—  Karl Jaspers

Man in the Modern Age (1933)
Kontext: Man, if he is to remain man, must advance by way of consciousness. There is no road leading backward.... We can no longer veil reality from ourselves by renouncing self-consciousness without simultaneously excluding ourselves from the historical course of human existence. <!-- p. 143

„One who would influence the masses must have recourse to the art of advertisement. The clamour of puffery is to-day requisite even for an intellectual movement.“

—  Karl Jaspers

Man in the Modern Age (1933)
Kontext: When the titanic apparatus of the mass-order has been consolidated, the individual has to serve it, and must from time to time combine with his fellows in order to renovate it. If he wants to make his livelihood by intellectual activity, he will find it very difficult to do this except by satisfying the needs of the many. He must give currency to something that will please the crowd. They seek satisfaction in the pleasures of the table, eroticism, self-assertion; they find no joy in life if one of these gratifications be curtailed. They also desire some means of self-knowledge. They desire to be led in such as way that they can fancy themselves leaders. Without wishing to be free, they would fain be accounted free. One who would please their taste must produce what is really average and commonplace, though not frankly styled such; must glorify or at least justify something as universally human. Whatever is beyond their understanding is uncongenial to them.
One who would influence the masses must have recourse to the art of advertisement. The clamour of puffery is to-day requisite even for an intellectual movement. The days of quiet and unpretentious activity seem over and done with. You must keep yourself in the public eye, give lectures, make speeches, arouse a sensation. Yet the mass-apparatus lacks true greatness of representation, lacks solemnity. <!-- pp. 43 - 44

„Philosophy seemed to me the supreme, even the sole, concern of man.“

—  Karl Jaspers

On My Philosopy (1941)
Kontext: My path was not the normal one of professors of philosophy. I did not intend to become a doctor of philosophy by studying philosophy (I am in fact a doctor of medicine) nor did I by any means, intend originally to qualify for a professorship by a dissertation on philosophy. To decide to become a philosopher seemed as foolish to me as to decide to become a poet. Since my schooldays, however, I was guided by philosophical questions. Philosophy seemed to me the supreme, even the sole, concern of man. Yet a certain awe kept me from making it my profession.

„The Greek word for philosopher (philosophos) connotes a distinction from sophos. It signifies the lover of wisdom (knowledge) as distinguished from him who considers himself wise in the possession of knowledge. This meaning of the word still endures: the essence of philosophy is not the possession of the truth but the search for truth.“

—  Karl Jaspers

Way to Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy (1951) as translated by Ralph Mannheim, Ch. 1, What is Philosophy?, p. 12
Variant translation: It is the search for the truth, not possession of the truth which is the way of philosophy. Its questions are more relevant than its answers, and every answer becomes a new question.
Kontext: The Greek word for philosopher (philosophos) connotes a distinction from sophos. It signifies the lover of wisdom (knowledge) as distinguished from him who considers himself wise in the possession of knowledge. This meaning of the word still endures: the essence of philosophy is not the possession of the truth but the search for truth. … Philosophy means to be on the way. Its questions are more essential than its answers, and every answer becomes a new question.

„Our own power of generation lies in the rebirth of what has been handed down to us. If we do not wish to slip back, nothing must be forgotten; but if philosophising is to be genuine our thoughts must arise from our own source. Hence all appropriation of tradition proceeds from the intentness of our own life. The more determinedly I exist, as myself, within the conditions of the time, the more clearly I shall hear the language of the past, the nearer I shall feel the glow of its life.“

—  Karl Jaspers

On My Philosopy (1941)
Kontext: Our questions and answers are in part determined by the historical tradition in which we find ourselves. We apprehend truth from our own source within the historical tradition.
The content of our truth depends upon our appropriating the historical foundation. Our own power of generation lies in the rebirth of what has been handed down to us. If we do not wish to slip back, nothing must be forgotten; but if philosophising is to be genuine our thoughts must arise from our own source. Hence all appropriation of tradition proceeds from the intentness of our own life. The more determinedly I exist, as myself, within the conditions of the time, the more clearly I shall hear the language of the past, the nearer I shall feel the glow of its life.

„I approach the presentation of Kierkegaard with some trepidation. Next to Nietzsche, or rather, prior to Nietzsche, I consider him to be the most important thinker of our post-Kantian age.“

—  Karl Jaspers, The Great Philosophers

The Great Philosophers (1962)
Kontext: I approach the presentation of Kierkegaard with some trepidation. Next to Nietzsche, or rather, prior to Nietzsche, I consider him to be the most important thinker of our post-Kantian age. With Goethe and Hegel, an epoch had reached its conclusion, and our prevalent way of thinking — that is, the positivistic, natural-scientific one — cannot really be considered as philosophy.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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