How to promote dialogue among religious faiths beyond dogmatisms and impassable identitarian walls? How to imagine a space – a Logos – that acts as a joining ethos and point of translation among faiths? How to forge an interreligious dialogue?
A debate with Jaspers is still enlightening on these compelling and unavoidable questions, which concern the destiny and destination of contemporary man. These questions and issues were discussed in the international conference on “Karl Jaspers and the interreligious dialogue,” which took place on 4 and 5 May 2017 in Genoa, and they represent a starting point for the following reflection developed in the sixth volume of Studi Jaspersiani.
The aim of the editors of the volume has been to promote a discussion on the religious issues which Jaspers faced above all in the second postwar period, when it was urgent to reconsider deeply and to actualize hermeneutically the sense of the great religious legacy of Europe and of the world, in the face of the catastrophe of war and totalitarianism. In this horizon, the contributors to this volume investigate Jaspers’ philosophy in order to show, from different but converging points of view, how it can inspire fruitful ways of thinking about the issues of contemporary interreligious dialogue.
The texts of the first section deal directly with the range of proposals on religious issues developed by the same Jaspers; the texts of the second section concern debates which Jaspers had conducted with particular religious or philosophical protagonists in history, as well as comparisons between Jaspers’ religious-philosophical thought and other voices of his and our time.
In the first section, key concepts of Jaspers’ approach to religious issues are considered, such as: Cipher [Chiffre], Limit Situation [Grenzsituation], Encompassing [Umgreifendes], Transcendence [Transzendenz], Foundering [Scheitern]; Philosophical Faith [Philosophischer Glaube], Religious Liberalism [Liberalität], Biblical Religion [Biblische Religion], and Axial Age [Achselzeit]. Celada Ballanti’s and Weidmann’s papers investigate the theoretical basis of Jaspers’ philosophy of religion and its focus on the relationship among philosophy, theology and religions (moreover, Weidmann deals with Jaspers’ specificity toward John Hick, a very discussed author in contemporary debates on religious pluralism). Other papers of this section address Jaspers’ innovative views on issues such as the great religions of Europe and Asia (Venturelli, Mei), exemplary religious and philosophical individuals (Wenning), political theology (Pasqualin), and the relationship between religions and education (Giustino).
The second section starts with papers on three crucial examples of Jaspers’ dialogues with great voices of religious and philosophical history: Jesus, considered by Jaspers at the confluence of philosophy and religion (Ricci Sindoni); Nagarjuna, respresenting a significant moment of the Jaspersian opening to the Eastern philosophical-religious world (Garaventa); and Cusanus, in the interaction between religious tradition and modernity (Ratsch). The following papers of this section compare Jaspers’ philosophical positions on religions with other positions of his and our contemporary thinkers, such as Eric Weil (Marabelli), Simone Weil (Tarantino), Paul Ricoeur (Simonotti), and Jürgen Habermas (Brino).
NOTE: Abstracts are available here following. Forewords, abbreviations, notes and reviews can be freely read. Articles can be singularly purchased in pdf digital format.
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The essay is intended to highlight Jaspers’ “metaphysics of ciphers” as a fruitful paradigm for interreligious dialogue. It outlines the idea of a transcendental space – reconsidered within “periechontology” in terms of “the encompassing” (das Umgreifende) – where faiths meet as in an agora: remaining distinct and individual, they can relate in a free, friendly struggle that does not contain violence or intolerance. The very idea of “cipher” leads to such an outcome, as each cipher, in the name of its historicity, constitutes an aspect of non-knowledge, incompleteness, partiality, which eludes every claim of exclusive and allencompassing truth.
Karl Jaspers’ humanistic ideal offers interesting chances for a dialogue among different religions. It helps to reflect upon the possible convergences that different faiths share, by referring to an anthropological human model which refuses the passive acceptance of absolute truth, understood in a dogmatic way and, consequently, a faith lived as a submission to a great entity. Jaspers supports the human urge “to live into truth” which implies an existential involvement that actualizes in a constant research marked by doubt, lived through an intimate participation which aims to conquer the authenticity of himself by a direct relation between Existence and Transcendence. By converging the different religions into a humanitarian project about the transformation and renewal of inner life, an open approach to an intercultural religious dialogue becomes possible.
The present research aims to analyze the new perspective from which Jaspers looks at the totality of human things with particular reference to the East-West antinomy. Jaspers proposes to religious faiths not to give up on themselves but to assume that attitude of philosophy, which distinguishes faith from the truth. Only by renouncing these rigid forms and recovering the antinomical tensions, the correct harmony between faith and tolerance can be realized, tending to that concept of peace, the ultimate goal of philosophical research, indicating a “third way” between atheism and dogmatism.
Jaspers’ conception of the supra-political reality – whose essential moments are ethos, sacrifice and reason – ascribes a positive role to the element of community. In Die Atombombe und die Zukunft des Menschen Jaspers introduces the idea of a “community of reasonable people”, understood as the accomplishment of reason’s intersubjective character. By revisiting Kant’s and Lessing’s accounts, Jaspers shows the possibility of an exemplary interhuman bond – regarded as an unavoidable regulative principle for “good” politics – which is based on a common commitment to moral improvement and on a shared predisposition to a tolerant and non-confessional faith. In particular, the community of reasonable people maintains its cohesion through the so-called “philosophical faith”, so that the latter founds the possibility of the former. From this point of view, the practice of philosophical faith in mutual communication proves to be the ultimate ground of politics. This enables a double consideration. On the one hand, it is arguable that the idea of such a supra-political community represents the unifying link between Jaspers’ political reflections and his religious-philosophical thought. On the other, in Jaspers’ acknowledgement of a constitutive but indirect openness of politics to the dimension of transcendence, we can identify the contours of a theological-political discourse.
The understanding of world history, and in it, of Europe’s task and destiny, proceeds in Jaspers’ work through the elaboration of two fundamental historical-philosophical concepts: the hypothesis of the Axial Age, which would mark, around the middle of the first millennium B.C., the deepest interregnum in history to date, and the concept of biblical religion, the specific origin, along with Greco-Roman culture, of Western man. The author highlights the significant correlation between the two concepts, identifying a dual nature: historical and normative, descriptive and prescriptive. In his opinion, these are interpretative keys designed to understand not so much the past as the the present of concepts suited to opening a positive outlook on the unknown future of humanity. In particular, Jaspers’ idea of biblical religion certainly indicates an ancient historical source, but it is, above all, a symptom and part of the desired transformation of Europe’s spiritual heritage and its current task: to encourage, on the basis of the principle of Liberalität, unlimited communication from man to man, to promote the dialogical meeting between the historical faiths, religious confessions, and the wisdom of all humanity, for a future of peace.
Philosophical contributions to the dialogue of religions tend to be academic, taking a standpoint above religious faith. That is not the case with Karl Jaspers. For him, philosophy itself is faith, thus participating in the dialogue of religions rather than just moderating it. In the following article, the author would like to show that Jaspers enables us to reformulate the theory of interreligious dialogue developed by John Hick. But philosophy as Jaspers understands it can be a strong and serious partner in this dialogue only if it ascertains its Christian background more distinctly than Jaspers himself has done.
The starting point of Jaspers’ world philosophy consists in a reconstruction of the lives and philosophical contributions of exemplary individuals including Socrates, Buddha, Confucius, and Jesus. By way of discussing the conception of human greatness from the perspective of recent scholarship on “exemplary reasoning”, this paper reflects on the viability of staging an intercultural dialogue by way of turning to paradigmatic individuals or “measure-giving humans” (maßgebende Menschen). While remaining cautious of the dangers of setting up a cult of personality that undermines plurality and autonomy, the paper argues for a self-reflexive, critical and dialogical approach to human greatness. One key element of this approach consists in revealing the limits and existential contradictions of significant human beings from different cultural and religious traditions.
On the complex issues related to the correct practices of interreligious dialogue, Jaspers offered some important insights in 900, arguing the theoretical question concerning the quality of philosophical faith placed “in front of ” the truth of the Hebrew – Christian Scriptures. In this way, religious faith on the one hand and philosophical faith on the other can mutually elaborate – each one in its own horizon – a new re-appropriation of historical tradition, without easy Irenicism. In this context the figure of Jesus as “philosopher” is presented, in order to propose the authentic human dimension exalted by the relationship with the Absolute, so that it is possible to perceive in him an existential and ethical testimony of universal depth. In this contribution we will try to highlight the fruitful aspects of Jaspersian reflection together with some problematic elements, able to better determine the method and the purpose of interreligious dialogue.
Karl Jaspers analysed the figure and the thought of Buddhist monk Nagarjuna, who lived between the 2nd and 3rd century AD, in the first volume of The Great Philosophers of 1957. This work constitutes the most significant part of a project of “universal history of philosophy” profoundly different from the traditional ones, to the extent that it abandons chronology as its authoritative principle and first of all looks to that super-historical reality (the Transcendence) which has always inspired the thought and existence of the great philosophers, who are simultaneously within and beyond history, forming together a “realm of reason” from which they talk to us as if they were our contemporaries, so that we can always communicate with them. Jaspers, in his analysis of Nagarjuna’s thinking, emphasises the different ways that Eastern man and Western man live their inner freedom towards reality and self. Nagarjuna’s logical-dialectic thinking, however, also has a deep affinity with the Jaspersian “formal transcending”, leading the thought up to the extreme limit where it changes into a sort of “non-thought”, “more than thought”, “other thought”, making it paradoxically possible to think the unthinkable, i.e., to grasp the Omni-embracing Being (the Transcendence), giving meaning and liberty to existence.
In this article, I investigate the role played by Nicolaus Cusanus’ philosophy of religion in the thinking of Karl Jaspers, as exemplified by Jaspers’ repeated quotation of a maxim developed by Cusanus in his dialogue De Pace Fidei (On the Peace of Faith): “Religio una in rituum varietate” (There is just one religion in a variety of rites). In doing so, first I outline Cusanus’ metaphysics and philosophy of religion, focusing on his irenic and apologetic reasoning in De Pace Fidei. Then I compare Jaspers’ numerous references to that text in the context of his own philosophical thinking. Both thinkers, I conclude, agree upon viewing religion as a way of relating to the transcendent Absolute, which defies all knowledge. Cusanus, nevertheless, on both speculative and historic grounds, claims superiority for Christianity – a claim that Jaspers criticises as both unfounded and intolerant.
This paper is intended to present and develop similarities and differences between the two philosophers on the interpretation of the Axial Age. The first part is dedicated to the innovative conception of Universal History presented by Jaspers in Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte. The author presents an axis of Universal History (Achsenzeit) that transcends the Western geographical and cultural limits and establishes a new vision of history able to involve the whole of humanity. The second part is dedicated, instead, to Eric Weil’s interpretation of the Jaspersian proposal from his own perspective. The concept of the Axial Age becomes for Weil the starting point to examine the themes of modernity, universality and historical progress intended as choices made by each human being in a secondary historical breakthrough that occurred almost two thousand years after the one indicated by Jaspers.
This essay will consider two prominent figures in the European culture of the last century: Simone Weil and Karl Jaspers. Both reflected on the contradictory structure of existence and on the limits of reason; on the conscious and unconscious processes underlying the psychological mechanisms of human beings; on the centrality given to science without, however, disregarding the different nature of philosophy; on the insistence that pain is the main route to knowledge against absolutism and totalitarianism; on the key role played by the dimension of waiting and humility in the life of a man, as vital tension and as de-centring of one’s own “I”; on the fact that in tempore non suspecto both Jaspers and Weil turned their attention and their research to the philosophical and religious thought of India, China and Ancient Egypt, thus opening themselves up to non-Western civilizations.
This article aims to consider some aspects of Ricoeur’s confrontation with Jaspers, by underlining in particular their common attempt to define a convincing theoretical paradigm of interreligious dialogue. From the reading of Jaspers’ philosophy Ricoeur derives the need for the relativization of the different religious perspectives and at the same time the idea of their complementarity, as forms capable of approaching the “common fund” of transcendence through an always “lateral” vision of truth, that is never in a definitive way and with the language of symbols and cyphers. Dialogue presupposes the awareness of the limit of each religious confession, to ensure that plurality and differences do not lead to violence, but rather to experiences of authentic tolerance and recognition.
Since the earliest phases of his long intellectual development, Habermas has shown a certain interest in Jaspers’ positions on the dialogue of the different axial civilizations, among themselves and with post-Enlightenment rationality. Along with the elaboration of the concepts of “post-metaphysical” and “post-secular”, this Habermasian interest in Jaspers’ dialogical positions has increased in the last few decades, and the notion of “Axial Age” plays a central role in the recent Nachmetaphysisches Denken II (2012). Nevertheless, Habermas still maintains that Jaspers does not sufficiently point out the rational and argumentative level of philosophy with respect to its fideistic-existential placement.
Roberto Garaventa, «La verita e cio che ci unisce». Attualita del pensiero di Karl Jaspers (Edoardo Simonotti)
Karl Jaspers – Rudolf Bultmann, Il problema della demitizzazione (Martina Vullo)
Un filosofo tra i filosofi. Karl Jaspers e il pensiero occidentale, a cura di Paola Ricci Sindoni (Fabiana Russo)