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


Volume 5, No. 1, Spring 2010

World Philosophy and the Axial Age Thesis

The Possibility of an Existential Philosophy of History in Jaspers and Sartre
Raymond Langley | Manhattanville College

Contingency and historicity would seem to preclude a philosophy of history that would ascribe meanings to origins, ends, and meanings of the historical process. Jaspers' and Sartre's existential philosophies of history argue for an Axial Age which enables consciousness to transcend its particular historicity to participate in the "loving struggle of communication" between past, present, and future of humanity. Sartre's dialectical comprehension sees the possibility of negative and positive reciprocity between individual men and history as the measure of freedom.

Karl Jaspers' Critique of Rudolf Bultmann and His Turn Toward Asia
Joanne Miyang Cho | William Paterson University

In this essay, I explore Jaspers' critique of Rudolf Bultmann's neo-orthodox theology and evaluate Jaspers' response to it. First, I analyze Jaspers' rejection of Bultmann's idea of demythologization and his anti-Semitism, as well as Jaspers' move toward valuing Asian ciphers. While both Jaspers and Bultmann rejected the literal interpretation of Jesus' resurrection, they viewed the place of Jesus quite differently. Bultmann contended salvation to be possible only through Christ, Jaspers contested such an exclusive view and instead recommended expanding from solely Western ciphers to include both Western and Asian ciphers. Part II evaluates Jaspers' critique of Bultmann in the light of theological and historical scholarship. Jaspers' criticism of Bultmann's demythologization and anti-Semitism has been supported by a number of scholars, but his ideas of cipher and transcendence have been received more controversially. Some have criticized their lack of tradition and commitment, while others have commended their openness and historical sensitivity. The essay evaluates why the interpretations of openness and historical sensitivity are more convincing.

Tracing Confucius in Jaspers' Weltphilosophie
Kimiyo Murata-Soraci | Waseda University, Japan

This essay explores Jaspers' ambitious and final project of Weltphilosophie from post-modern Derridian and Nancyian perspectives. The interpretation presented here differs from Hans Saner's perception of this project by drawing attention to language and communication and by including Existenz and transcendence in Jaspers' earlier thought as it relates to his world philosophy. This is also the place to address the moral and political philosophy of Confucius with whose thought "dawns" Volume 1 of Jaspers' The Great Philosophers. The essay adumbrates an imperceptible opening of an originary sociality and kinship between Western philosophy and Eastern philosophy that is taking place at the roots of Existenz through evocative recollection of Jaspers' world philosophy.

Humanism and Despotism: Jaspers and Hegel on Chinese History and Religion
Eric Michael Dale | Emerson College

This essay explores the work of Hegel and Jaspers on Chinese religion and history, in order to more fully understand their respective philosophies of history. For Hegel, the historical development of Asian culture is actually pre-historical in that there is no progress to freedom, but only "the repetition of the same majestic ruin." Hegel understands China as "the realm of theocratic despotism" grounded in the religion of heaven and centered on the state religion of the Chinese Empire. Thus Chinese thought is the best exemplification of Hegel's famous claim, "the East knows that one is free; the Greeks know that some are free; the Germans know that all are free." Jaspers has a very different understanding of historical development and the nature of Chinese thought. While Hegel understands China as the absolute beginning of the movement of spirit from East to West, Jaspers sees China as one of the revolutionary origins of history in the Achsenzeit. Jaspers claims to have turned to Chinese Confucianism at the very moment that National Socialism was ravaging Europe, "sensing there a common source of humanity against the barbarism of my own environment." Jaspers embraces Confucian humanism as a source of existential meaning and relational communication.

Review of Karl Jaspers: A Biography┬ŚNavigations in Truth
Stephen A. Erickson | Pomona College

This review was presented at the Author Meets Critics session of the Karl Jaspers Society of North America in conjunction with the 84th Annual Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, San Francisco, April 2010.

Remarks on Zank, Monotheism and Its Discontents: Achsenzeit or deus ex machina?
Joseph Margolis | Temple University

This commentary was presented at the bi-annual meeting of the Karl Jaspers Society of North America in conjunction with the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, New York, December 2009.

Jaspers' Axial Age Hypothesis: A Brief Restatement
Michael Zank | Boston University

A reply to Professor Margolis' commentary presented at the bi-annual meeting of the Karl Jaspers Society of North America in conjunction with the 106th Annual Meeting of the American Philosophical Association, New York, December 2009.


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Alan M. Olson
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