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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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„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

„It may stamp all flat; it is disinclined to tolerate independence and greatness, but prone to constrain people to become as automatic as ants.“

—  Karl Jaspers

Man in the Modern Age (1933)
Kontext: The masses are our masters; and for every one who looks facts in the face his existence has become dependent on them, so that the thought of them must control his doings, his cares, and his duties.
Even an articulated mass always tends to become unspiritual and inhuman. It is life without existence, superstitions without faith. It may stamp all flat; it is disinclined to tolerate independence and greatness, but prone to constrain people to become as automatic as ants.<!-- p. 43

„We are sorely deficient in talking with each other and listening to each other. We lack mobility, criticism and self-criticism. We incline to doctrinism. What makes it worse is that so many people do not really want to think. They want only slogans and obedience.“

—  Karl Jaspers

The Question of German Guilt (1947)
Kontext: We are sorely deficient in talking with each other and listening to each other. We lack mobility, criticism and self-criticism. We incline to doctrinism. What makes it worse is that so many people do not really want to think. They want only slogans and obedience. They ask no questions and they give no answers, except by repeating drilled-in phrases. They can only assert and obey, neither probe nor apprehend. Thus they cannot be convinced, either. How shall we talk with people who will not go where others probe and think, where men seek independence in insight and conviction?

„Conversely, there are forbidden truths: This same threat to the continuance of the community is also counteracted by relentlessly preventing anyone from thinking and uttering unconventional but authentic truths.“

—  Karl Jaspers

Quelle: Nietzsche (1946), pp. 187-188
Kontext: For any community and those living in it, only that is true which can be communicated to all. Hence universal communicability is unconsciously accepted as the source and criterion of those truths that promote life through communal means. Truth is that which our conventional social code accepts as effective in promoting the purposes of the group. … This community will condemn as a “liar” the person who misuses its unconsciously accepted, and therefore valid, metaphors. … Community members are obliged to “lie” in accordance with fixed convention. To put it otherwise, they must be truthful by playing with the conventionally marked dice. To fail to pay in the coin of the realm is to tell forbidden lies, for, on this view, whatever transcends conventional truth is a falsehood. To tell lies of this kind is to sacrifice the world of meanings upon which the endurance of his community rests. Conversely, there are forbidden truths: This same threat to the continuance of the community is also counteracted by relentlessly preventing anyone from thinking and uttering unconventional but authentic truths.

„The masses are our masters; and for every one who looks facts in the face his existence has become dependent on them, so that the thought of them must control his doings, his cares, and his duties.“

—  Karl Jaspers

Man in the Modern Age (1933)
Kontext: The masses are our masters; and for every one who looks facts in the face his existence has become dependent on them, so that the thought of them must control his doings, his cares, and his duties.
Even an articulated mass always tends to become unspiritual and inhuman. It is life without existence, superstitions without faith. It may stamp all flat; it is disinclined to tolerate independence and greatness, but prone to constrain people to become as automatic as ants.<!-- p. 43

„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.“

—  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.

„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.

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

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