This serves as the platform from which to ask fundamental questions about philosophy and its falling apart into distinct philosophies. In Socratic terms, philosophy is about examining oneself and trying to escape from ignorance; the encounter between Jaspers and Heidegger uncovers two very different approaches to self-examination and ignorance; I argue that examining this encounter helps to clarify the nature of philosophy and the relationship between philosophy and action. He never did, and the piece was forgotten. Jaspers was born in North Germany — in Saxony — near the border with the Netherlands. He grew up and was educated in the political culture of North German liberalism. He initially studied law — his father was a jurist and advocate for progressive causes — later he settled on medicine.
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This serves as the platform from which to ask fundamental questions about philosophy and its falling apart into distinct philosophies. In Socratic terms, philosophy is about examining oneself and trying to escape from ignorance; the encounter between Jaspers and Heidegger uncovers two very different approaches to self-examination and ignorance; I argue that examining this encounter helps to clarify the nature of philosophy and the relationship between philosophy and action.
He never did, and the piece was forgotten. Jaspers was born in North Germany — in Saxony — near the border with the Netherlands. He grew up and was educated in the political culture of North German liberalism. He initially studied law — his father was a jurist and advocate for progressive causes — later he settled on medicine. He completed his studies and spent a decade as a practicing psychiatrist.
He published research on paranoia, delusions and diagnostic criteria; he suggested a number of innovations in treating mental illness and is credited with inaugurating the biographical method in psychiatry taking extensive background histories and noting how patients themselves feel about their symptoms. While practicing psychiatry in Heidelberg, Jaspers came into contact with the historian, economist, pioneering student of comparative religion and founder of sociology, Max Weber.
Jaspers considered Weber to be the greatest man of his time — a true exemplar of scientific consciousness, humanitarianism, comprehensive learning and political courage. Weber threw himself against the tide of religious intolerance in Germany but ultimately was swept under it. Jaspers was dissatisfied with the way mental illness was understood in his time — especially by the tendency to reduce the patient to a set of influences — and was also struck by the powerful example of personal authenticity set by Weber.
Meanwhile the German political state continued its descent towards totalitarianism. Jaspers began studying philosophy relatively late in life in an effort to give some frame to his developing ideas about selfhood, society, and more transcendent themes. He began from a Kantian perspective and wrestled with some effects of the categorical imperative — the idea that what a person does is bound up with a transcendent ideal of action.
Instead he became a close reader of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, whose works bring a new skepticism to the human prospect — also a new challenge — a vision that resists being put into a summary, that cannot be systematized or fully articulated. Jaspers interpreted these thinkers as guiding spirits of a new, comprehensive life attitude. They seem to exalt in the anxiety and dizziness of modern freedom. They direct our attention especially to confronting life in all its complexity and painful absurdity, calling upon strength of character and willpower, personal integrity and genuineness, and the ability to go forward without getting stuck, as modes of authentic being in response to the problematic character of lived experience.
Following Jaspers, this standpoint was elaborated in many later works. It is significant that this tradition includes figures of the political left e. Existentialist writers do not appear to share any system of belief or ethic, but instead an orientation to the main problem of existence itself. The problem of existence is taken subjectively. Jaspers regards philosophy as a practice of asking questions — not of answering them — thus an activity and not a set of conclusions.
Jaspers denies that philosophy is bound up with the scientific method. It does not propose hypotheses, test them, or work towards any intersubjective consensus. Philosophy is in search of truths whose status is independent of the method of establishing them. It may even work in ways that are incompatible with one another. Philosophy confronts absurdity and also creates absurdity but ultimately learns to work with absurdity. The first step in philosophy is to clear a space in which a new kind of thinking can occur.
Jaspers emphasizes that the first step in philosophy must be chosen , even if many experiences lead one toward it. Real thinking always has a deliberate character and represents a decision.
As I take a step away from a determinate object and moving towards the whole in which it is contained — away from being and moving toward Being — at the same time Being retreats before my grasping will to know. All I can do is hold on to remnants and traces of Being in the form of beings — also the void left behind by its retreat. I am tracking the traces of the Big in the small.
Despite this, the horizon recedes and encircles me wherever I turn. Nor is there any sequence or accumulation of experiences that completes the description of The Open — a final accomplishing — instead I always have something to learn and there is always something new. The point of moving from the small to the Big is not to possess the Big or become it which in any case is impossible but to cut free from the small and all the constraint it represents.
It is of course absurd to try to accomplish this since wherever we end up, we are still enclosed in a space. Thus we are talking about reaching a new perspective but wherever we land we will have exactly the same work to do again. Jaspers says that philosophy is possible because this absurdity — reaching for something that backs away — is something we can learn to work with. The form of communication appropriate to this indecisive being is indirect communication.
This is why Nietzsche and Kierkegaard — both open and candid spirits — show a penchant for masks. Truth must be grasped in the process of becoming, drawn from the wellsprings of each separate and self-constructing Existenz. Jaspers concludes that the preeminent value upheld in philosophy is honesty. Thus philosophy can watch over us but cannot nourish us. Philosophy is what we do with experience but is not experience itself. Philosophic honesty peering into the present situation of man confronts the problem of diversity — the problem of showing how different truths, that different human beings live by, can all be lived by simultaneously — how I can live my truth and let the other person live his truth, without gainsaying his truth or denying him the right to live by it — also without ceding my right to the truth I am trying to live.
Jaspers takes some first steps towards a cosmopolitan and global philosophic awareness, guided by the thought that as seekers we are all companions. My counterpart, the advocate of a different truth, is my irreplaceable brother. There is no final revelation. Philosophy is the love of wisdom but philosophers are often dissatisfied with love — they tire of the search — they want to bring an end to love and reach wisdom itself.
Some philosophers claim that philosophy has come to an end in his or her thinking, as Spinoza does, for example, or Hegel, or Wittgenstein, or Heidegger. They say: this is the true philosophy, this is the last philosophy, philosophy is no more, the questions have disappeared, we have shown that they are mistaken or not important anymore.
The Polish thinker and student of Jaspers Leszek Ko? Jaspers thought that he had found a middle ground between partisanship and assertion of exclusive claims to the truth and relativism where adjudicating standards of assessment are ruled out because all viewpoints are leveled as free products of human creativity. We are a brotherhood of fellow sufferers, joined in having to face the problems of creating meaning and confronting death.
Kant and Hegel both use the term Weltanschauung worldview to indicate comprehensive perspectives such as we associate with religious traditions. The term was sometimes used interchangeably with Zeitgeist spirit of the age to indicate the general cultural climate of a place and time. Wilhelm von Humboldt used the term to indicate the comprehensive lifeworld and approach to reality shared by a linguistic community or nation.
Jaspers uses the term Weltanschauung in this accepted sense as a natural not explicitly chosen attitude realized in life-experience and typical for a certain reference-set a time, place, nation, subgroup. A person is enacting a kind of human archetype in the form of typical ideas, goals and hates. He sets himself the goal of moving from the natural worldview of his milieu to the worldview emerging from his work in philosophy. Thus the problem is to move from the natural worldview to the philosophical worldview — the problem is philosophy — i.
In effect, Jaspers is attempting to lay out a psychology of philosophy. He is trying to uncover some of the elemental emotional and human roots out of which philosophy emerges and to which it always refers. Philosophy jumps out from the natural standpoint but remains tied to it. Thus an insight into a chemical process is not itself a chemical process.
Thus the big issue is the kind of being that I become within my philosophical engagement. Philosophy cannot be communicated in observations and theses such as we find in scientific treatises. Neither is philosophy about possible standpoints offered to the discerning and choosing intellect.
Instead, philosophy is a kind of commitment; a kind of summons; a kind of awakening and call to awakening. The point of the offering is not to win over the other person or persuade anyone of anything, but to establish and preserve the cosmos of worldviews. As Jaspers explicates it, the work of establishing and preserving the cosmos of worldviews is, at the same time, work on founding and continuing my own search and philosophical understanding — these are two ways of looking at the same work.
We make our way forward from the natural standpoint to a philosophical framework — the work of explicit observation, analysis, critique, conjecture and refutation — by talking. I learn to converse, and to become a conversation, simultaneously — the same thing that drives me to dig into myself and question what I believe also makes me listen closely when I hear someone talk about his search and his questioning his beliefs. The way in which Heidegger was drawn to philosophy plays an important role in the way he thinks about philosophy, though his thoughts about it as a young man seem very different than what he had to say at the end of his life.
In brief he came to philosophy because he had the experience of waking up and suddenly realizing that he was already entangled in many relationships, that he was already possessed of many characteristics, that he was already a part of something much greater than himself — all of this came upon him of a sudden — and then it struck him that he had forgotten the question of being; it struck him that everyone had forgotten this question; our existence no longer strikes us but is simply given and unthought.
As he says in his late work What is Called Thinking? We have to move from the natural standpoint to explicit philosophy. Jaspers and Heidegger met in person at a birthday celebration for Edmund Husserl in Heidelberg on April 8, Jaspers was only six years older than Heidegger, but Heidegger considered him an elder and someone who belonged to the preceding generation. Heidegger and his teacher Rickert both considered Jaspers a kind of interloper in philosophy, especially since he was largely self-taught.
They both regarded his works as lacking formal rigor or perhaps even verging on incoherence, and, most especially, as insufficiently grounded in the Greeks. Neither respected Max Weber, whereas for Jaspers Weber was a defining figure. Jaspers, for his part, wondered in notes to himself from the 30s whether it was possible that a philosophy could be true as a written work, as an intellectual construction, yet false as a practical guide to action.
Authentically, what is Heidegger and what is he doing? I should have found a way to break through. But of course if we hit upon the original untrammelled Truth and somehow possess it without error or sin, then all things become possible and indeed we can give Jaspers, and every other thinker, a fitting tribute and critique. Heidegger says that we have to restrict ourselves to this task recovering the original motivational situations in which the fundamental experiences of philosophy have arisen and this restriction is exactly what philosophy is.
So, we have to get back to very primordial circumstances and grasp philosophy as it emerges from this primal — original — unfolding matrix. But to describe this root situation and primordial condition — the thing that we have to get back to — this is extremely difficult — Heidegger loops around this question several times and gradually tries to zero in on the urgent thing he sees. He describes his process of offering up strategies and then renouncing them, because they all show signs of being late developments and complex refinements of philosophical ideas that, in their pure state, make many fewer claims but also shed much more light.
We have to renounce late forms of philosophy because they fall short of the root form of philosophy in its still inchoate primordial state. We want to reach back to philosophy before it falls apart into philosophies — asking before it congeals into belief — returning to the prime question of being.
Worry is a kind of oppression by the inexistent future on the experiential present — an invasion of the present by the future — also a kind of hyperattention, perseveration or inability to get free from the past.
Worrying about something is attending to it and making it present. But once you are worrying, once you are struggling, once you are parachuted into this war zone in feeling, you begin to fight — you fight with yourself and also explicitly confront and deconstruct the mood in which you find yourself. That is: the original motivational situation from which philosophy emerges is — roughly speaking — worry itself.
'The Reckless Mind'
If Plato is to be believed, everything. While all lovers are not philosophers, philosophers are the only true lovers, since they alone understand what love blindly seeks. Love evokes in us all an unconscious memory of the beauty of the Ideas, and this memory maddens us; we feel possessed by a frenzied yearning to couple and to "beget in the beautiful," as the Symposium beautifully puts it b. Those who possess self-control mate intellectually and commune with the Ideas, which is philosophy's aim, while those who lack it purge their passions in the flesh and remain bound to the world. When eros is unleashed in an immoderate person the soul sinks into sensual pleasure, love of money, drunkenness, even madness.
Psychologie der Weltanschauungen