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An International Journal in Philosophy, Religion, Politics, and the Arts
ISSN 1932-1066

Volume 16, No.1, Spring 2021

Jaspers, Psychology of Worldviews

Index and Editor's Introduction

Karl Jaspers' Philosophy of Nature: What is Still Worth Reading in Jaspers' Works in Times of Ecological Crisis?
Jean-Claude Gens | University of Burgundy, France

This exploration of Jaspers' philosophy of nature evidences its closeness to the depiction of nature landscapes in Chinese art. It is also concerned with gauging in which way and to what extent it is pertinent for meeting today's ecological challenges in a sustainable manner that are brought about by subjection and exploitation of nature. Jaspers' philosophy of nature is mainly to be found in his "On My Philosophy", in his typescript "Nature and Ethics", and in his main work Philosophy. There is a notable tension between Jaspers on the one hand being drawn to nature conceived of as an autonomous being originating out of the depth of being and on the other hand his fear of losing himself in it and thereby becoming unfree, hence, no longer doing justice to his own tenet of the centrality of communication with fellow-humans for the end of attaining transcendence. Jaspers attempts to resolve this tension by way of advancing an approach that integrates these two "abysses" into an ethical perspective.

Keywords: Shitao, Chinese art, Miroku Bosatsu, Bodhisattva Maitreya, nature, landscape paintings, cultural landscapes, existence, transcendence, ethics.


Wilhelm Dilthey and Jaspers' Psychology of Worldviews
Csaba Olay | Eötvös Loránd University, Hungary

The essay focuses on Wilhelm Dilthey's role in the argumentation of Karl Jaspers' Psychology of Worldviews. The concept of "worldview" is viewed in the secondary literature primarily in connection with the concept of shell or objectivized cage (Gehäuse) Jaspers borrowed from Max Weber. I show that this evaluation is one-sided, for it underestimates Dilthey's impact on Jaspers. His conception of a psychology of worldviews unites motives both from Dilthey and Weber, constructing in this way a weberized Dilthey or diltheyen Weber.

Keywords: Dilthey, Wilhelm; Jaspers, Karl; Weber, Max; worldview; world-picture; Verstehen; Gehäuse.


Jaspers and Chichilnisky on Extreme Events and Liminality
Stefano Papa | University of Vienna, Austria

According to Karl Jaspers a boundary situation is, on the one hand, a set of experiential types within the human condition. Such types include the struggle for survival, culpability, death, the degree of randomness concerning meaningful encounters in one's life, as well as the very reasons for an individual's existence. On the other hand, Jaspers argues that the concept of a boundary situation addresses a categorial pattern in human experience: concrete situations come and go, but the forms of boundary situations are recurring. In this essay, I focus on this formal aspect of the concept of a boundary situation. I call this aspect liminality, in order to better distinguish the empirical types from the categorial forms. I argue that cognizing formal boundary conditions, while not presupposing logics and formalized arguments, does not amount to a simple ideological dismissal of formal and formalized disciplines. On the contrary, Jaspers' idea of a communicative community entails, as a top priority, the critical assessment of scientific outcomes and their societal impact. This is especially the case when formal (quantitative) arguments have a prospective or immediate influence on a community's life and institutions. In order to show how an existential epistemology ought to deal with the social sciences (among others), I refer to Graciela Chichilnisky's work on expected utility theory. I further claim that the emancipatory project of Kantian public reason is within the scope of Jaspers' idea of existing.

Keywords: Chichilnisky, Graciela; Jaspers, Karl; Grenzsituation; boundary situation; limit situations; ideal types; philosophical logic; erotetics; risk; statistical life, value of.


Psychologie der Weltanschauungen—A Current Outlook from the Perspective of Psychology
Heiner Rindermann | Technical University Chemnitz, Germany

Psychologie der Weltanschauungen (Psychology of Worldviews) published in 1919 is Jaspers' first philosophy book. Worldviews are seen as the whole of one's outlook consisting of one's knowledge and values, which guide one's view of nature, of peoples, and of one's own life. A psychology of worldviews, then, is the investigation of psychological contents and structures, of psychological development conditions, and of consequences resulting from different worldviews. Jaspers' book is based on a theoretical concept of the Hegelian triad, roughly speaking, as a thesis (here: attitudes), an antithesis (world models) and a synthesis (life of the spirit). Although Jaspers' main intention is to recognize and to live philosophy as one's own existence, his psychology of worldviews can be applied for an analysis of the contents and effects of worldviews in religion, politics, economy, and culture in general; namely an effort to understand as to the impact of worldviews in shaping everyday life expectations and outcomes for any one person and in societies.

Keywords: Jaspers, Karl; Weltanschauung; worldview; ideology; culture; values; enthusiasm; rationality; cross-cultural comparison; thinking.


Karl Jaspers, Psychologie der Weltanschauungen —Introductory Remarks at the Review Session
Christian Rabanus | Institut für Phaenopraxie, Wiesbaden, Germany

In this brief introduction at the review session the author reflects on the systematic position of Psychologie der Weltanschauungen in the oeuvre of Karl Jaspers and argues that this book is a work of transition, which distinguishes Jaspers' psychopathological phase from his philosophical one.

Keywords: Jaspers, Karl; verstehende Psychologie; interpretative psychology; existential philosophy; psychopathology.


Karl Jaspers, Psychology of Worldviews: Differentiations in the Chapter "The Psychological-Cultural Worldview"
Mark Galliker | University of Berne, Switzerland

This investigation of Karl Jaspers' approach to thinking is based on examples taken from the chapter "Das seelisch-kulturelle Weltbild" in his book, Psychologie der Weltanschauungen. From the philosopher and humanistic scholar Wilhelm Dilthey, the psychiatrist and philosopher Jaspers adopted the concept of fundamental understanding; this includes Dilthey's methods of description and analysis. Using induction, Dilthey also identified synthesis in connection with analysis. In his didactic approach Jaspers primarily distinguished between various distinctions while in each distinction and further differentiation he was also looking for unifying elements. His analysis points back to its implicit beginning. The result makes possible a new synopsis and conceptual unity. This synthesis forms the basis of every specific distinction previously alluded to. That said, synthesis as such always remains open to further differentiations as a sort of dialectic that is given importance from both a theoretical and a practical viewpoint.

Keywords: Dilthey, Wilhelm; Jaspers, Karl; appearances; distinction; differentiation; analysis; synthesis; hermeneutics; dialectic; subject-object split; discrimination; openness.


Dilthey's and Jaspers' Reaction to the Clash of World-Views
Gunter Scholtz | University of Bochum, Germany

Surprisingly fast in the nineteenth century, the epistemological concept of Weltanschauung (worldview) became surprisingly fast the term for the individual interpretations of the whole of human existence, so that finally different worldviews opposed each other in a hostile manner. Wilhelm Dilthey did not take part in this conflict, but tried to explain it, while Karl Jaspers accentuated the significance of worldviews for the existence of the human being. Even if their intention and their concept of worldview is different, they agree on two important points: Both philosophers teach the diversity of views, and they both completely exclude political worldviews. The latter, however, increasingly penetrated the public consciousness and shaped the social conflicts and upheavals of their times.

Keywords: Dilthey, Wilhelm; Jaspers, Karl; worldview; typology; philosophy of philosophy; society; politics; philosophy of life; actual humanity; life as riddle; boundary situation.


Karl Jaspers—Richard Wisser Correspondence 1951-1964
Ruth A. Burch | LinguaePro, Lugano, Switzerland

Nine pieces of correspondence between Karl Jaspers (1883–1969) and Richard Wisser (1927–2019) plus one announcement by Jaspers, from the time period of 1951–1964 are here being rendered into English. The translations of these letters are annotated and illustrated by pictorial representations of some of the original letters. Wisser contacts Jaspers in order to present to him his Philosophy Study Group Worms that is discussing Jaspers' book Die geistige Situation der Zeit. By way of philosophical conversation, it seeks to bring about an inner revolution for as Jaspers argues "truth proves itself when we understand us in it and connect us in it." Yet ultimately it aims at exerting reason in practical (political) life. Jaspers also details the importance of Cusanus' philosophy for him and its tension with respect to Thomistic thought.

Keywords: Jaspers, Karl; Wisser, Richard; Aquinas, Thomas; Cusanus, Nicolaus; German politics; Heidelberg University; inner revolution; philosophical polemics.


Karl Jaspers—Richard Wisser Correspondence 1965-1967
Ruth A. Burch | LinguaePro, Lugano, Switzerland

Twenty-three pieces of correspondence between Karl Jaspers (1883–1969) and Richard Wisser (1927–2019) from the time period of 1965–1967 are being presented here in English translation, along with pictorial representations of some of the original letters and also with some explanatory notes. Wisser shares affinities with Jaspers' practice of philosophizing in a spirit of political integrity. Incited by Jaspers, he attempts to initiate a process of clarification, illumination, and self-reflection regarding, for instance, the handling of the atomic bomb. The letters evidence his sympathy with and gratitude to Jaspers as well as his untiring dedication regarding the promotion and advocacy of Jaspers' thought in general and of his political philosophy in particular.

Keywords: Jaspers, Karl; Wisser, Richard; Cusanus, Nicolaus; Aquinas, Thomas; Heidelberg University; philosophical polemics; German politics; atomic bomb; Hoffnung und Sorge; politics in Jaspers; practice of philosophizing.


Hans Saner—Richard Wisser Correspondence 1968-1969
Ruth A. Burch | LinguaePro, Lugano, Switzerland

The English translation of nine pieces of correspondence between Karl Jaspers (1883–1969) and Richard Wisser (1927–2019) from the time period 1968–1969 that include replies by Hans Saner (1934–2017) and a note by Gertrud Jaspers (1879–1974) are provided here, along with pictorial representations of some of the original letters. Brief annotations were added to the translation of these letters. In them, Wisser sympathizes strongly with Jaspers' call for a revolution regarding the way of thinking and acting. Joining forces, they engage in bringing about such a reason-based transformation through philosophizing in an authentic manner that endures rather than negates contradictions.

Keywords: Jaspers, Karl; Wisser, Richard; Saner, Hans; German post-war politics; cultural revolution; Jaspers on contradictions; enlightenment; reason.


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