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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

„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.

„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.

„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?

„Imminent seems the collapse of that which for millennium has constituted man's universe.“

—  Karl Jaspers

Man in the Modern Age (1933)
Kontext: Imminent seems the collapse of that which for millennium has constituted man's universe. The new world which has arisen as an apparatus for supply of the necessaries of life compels everything and everyone to serve it. It annihilates whatever it has no place for person seems to be going undergoing absorption into that which is nothing more than a means to an end, into that which is devoid of purpose of significance. <!-- p. 79

„My path was not the normal one of professors of philosophy.“

—  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 general fellowship of our human situation has been rendered even more dubious than before, inasmuch as, though the old ties of caste have been loosened, a new restriction of the individual to some prescribed status in society is manifest. Less than ever, perhaps, is it possible for a man to transcend the limitations imposed by his social origins.“

—  Karl Jaspers

Man in the Modern Age (1933)
Kontext: The general fellowship of our human situation has been rendered even more dubious than before, inasmuch as, though the old ties of caste have been loosened, a new restriction of the individual to some prescribed status in society is manifest. Less than ever, perhaps, is it possible for a man to transcend the limitations imposed by his social origins.<!-- p. 29

„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

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

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