Volume 14, No.1, Spring 2019
On Being with Others: Jaspers and Ortega
Oliver W. Holmes| Wesleyan University
Karl Jaspers and José Ortega y Gasset are frequently associated with phenomenology and existential philosophy. Where such an interpretation of their philosophical status raises questions for some scholars, this essay takes the position that certain features of existentialism were common to both. One of the defining characteristics of human existence, for Jaspers and Ortega, concerns the finitude in which the individual experiences limits in the world. The essay examines their respective concepts of selfhood and historicity, and the broader implications of these concepts in existential phenomenology. An analysis of the boundary situations of the individual and his or her circumstances, through inter-subjective human reality, by both thinkers, will provide the existential formulation of self-disclosure and the apparent paradox between finite existence and the open possibilities of the future.
Keywords: Jaspers, Karl; Ortega y Gasset, José; Husserl, Edmund; Heidegger, Martin; Kant, Immanuel; Existenz; existentialism; "I myself"; the other; boundary situation; circumstances; social world; inter-subjectivity; historicity.
Ortega, Jaspers, and the Dynamics of Reason
Pierre Keller| University of California, Riverside
Two Philosophers Born in 1883: Jaspers and Ortega on the Historicity of Being Human
Marnie Binder |
California State University, Sacramento
Spanish Philosopher José Ortega y Gasset and German Philosopher Karl Jaspers were both born in 1883, and they both maintained the position that humans are principally historical beings. Therefore, as attested by this notion, there are points in which their philosophy coincides. Ortega argued that human beings have no nature, only history. The argument here is that this is because our history is our nature; what is most natural about our being human is being historical and always having historicity. Jaspers agrees that in contemplating our historicity, our focus should not be on our nature, especially in the commonly held hereditary sense. However, he diverges some from Ortega in a complex emphasis on spirituality; on how our historicity is defined as spiritual beings embedded in a historical time because it is our traditions, not genetic makeup, that most make us human. There is an important dialogue and analysis to consider here to add to the thoughtful scholarship on history, historiography, and the philosophy of history.
Finding the Way: Philosophical Faith in Karl Jaspers and Jose Ortega y Gasset
Keith M. Brown | University of North Texas
The Concept of History
Dmitri Nikulin |
The New School
Reflecting on my motives for writing the Concept of History, I present three negative concerns that the book was directed against: the notions that history is teleological, that it is universal, and that a history so construed takes on a problematic role in political decision-making. The book thus looks for an alternative to the dominant mode of historical understanding in the modern west, and finds several such alternatives by looking at the earliest Greek historians and the ancient tradition of catalogue that predates them. By attending to these examples, I show that history is always multiple and intersecting, and that it is constituted by two elements: a fabula that briefly emplots (originally orally) the names and events, and the historical, which preserves (originally in written lists) the detailed names and events.
Jeffrey Bernstein |
College of the Holy Cross
Creativity and Historical Non-Being in Nikulin's Concept of History
John V. Garner | University of West Georgia
Dmitri Nikulin’s The Concept of History raises important questions about the ways historical beings like us can be said to face “non-being” (e.g. the non-being of death; or of past events or persons; or of future novelties). Here, I pose three main questions, ones to which I believe interesting responses are possible from the book’s framework. First, must all the contents of a history be mortal, or may ahistorical content enter into a history? Second, does the book’s concept of beneficial forgetting imply that we should promote some kinds of non-being, such as some cases of forgetting? Third, does the book exclude radical creativity, novelty, or newness from entering into a history? Is all historical novelty restricted to actualizing the possibilities offered by already-extant narratives?
Adam J. Graves |
Metropolitan State University of Denver
Memory, Narrative, and History in Nikulin's Concept of History
University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
The Axial Age and the Quest for a Secular Religion in Modernity
Stevens Institute of Technology
Eurocentrism and the Axial Age in Philosophy
Helmut Heit | Tongji University, Shanghai, Chinaa
After a discussion of Leibniz’ and Hegel’s attitude towards Chinese philosophy, this paper concentrates on Jasper’s idea of a breakthrough to transcendence in the Axial cultures and questions it’s contribution to historiography of philosophy. In light of the political catastrophes of the first half of the 20th century, Jaspers saw the need to reconceptualise the idea of world-history. The Western and Christian tradition could no longer serve as the central axis and should be replaced by a more global perspective. This idea was adopted by historians of philosophy, who were dissatisfied with the sole focus on a Greek-Roman-European tradition and the implicit or explicit equation of Western philosophy with philosophy as such. However, attempts towards post-Eurocentric historiography of philosophy inspired by Jaspers face some problems. Jaspers’ existentialist assumptions led him to global concepts of philosophia perennis, which again constitute a universal and unifying standard of evaluation. It is quite dubious that this standard does justice to the Western or any other philosophical tradition. Moreover, Jaspers’ pluralism or globalism is limited to the supposed high-cultures in India, China and the West, while other traditions are still excluded. And finally, the Western tradition as a continuous refinement of these Axial beginnings remains authoritative, ironically even including its late modern post-colonial subversion.
Cultural and Anthropological Patterns in the Axial Age
Markus Wirtz |
University of Cologne, Germany