Studi Jaspersiani, Volume VII (2019), Psychology of Worldviews 1919-2019

Psicologia delle visioni del mondo

In 1919 Karl Jaspers published the first edition of Psychology of Worldviews. This is a long and difficult text, which suffers from being a work of passage from psychopathology to psychology, and from there to philosophy. Although it was received with great interest at the time of its publication, it was long one of the most neglected texts of Jaspers’ entire production. One hundred years later, the Rivista di Studi Jaspersiani has therefore decided to devote a monographic issue to this work, addressing it with historical awareness, with the aim of revealing its potential to the contemporary debate.

In the Psychology of Worldviews, Jaspers proposes an analysis of worldviews on the basis of the growing importance they had taken from Kant to Dilthey, and reflects on the theme of intuition as a form of knowledge, one that cannot be ascribed to classical cognitive categories. For the young psychologist, a Weltanschauung responds to the subject’s need to relate to the phenomena of knowledge not through an analytical procedure, but by responding to the need for totality, using intuition itself. Jaspers thus lays the foundations for his subsequent reflection on the philosophy of existence, which will lead him to reformulate the idea of knowledge and philosophy precisely from questioning the limits of positive knowledge (necessary but not sufficient) in the understanding of man as Existenz. This work is therefore the result of Jaspers’ ability to grasp, with the hermeneutic finesse of a psychologist, the great thematic cores of thought, reworking and giving new life to traditional concepts and categories. In spite of its magmatic form, the Psychology of Worldviews thus appears as an extremely rich and fertile work, anticipating many of Jaspers’ more mature ideas while making use of the many notions acquired by the young psychopathologist in the philosophical and scientific landscape at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries.

The essays collected in this volume discuss the essential themes underlying Jaspers’ reflection on worldviews following two senses: the legacy that Jaspers drew on and the legacy that he left behind. The scholars who have contributed to this volume retrace Jaspers’ philosophy, showing, from different but convergent perspectives, the depth of his work, highlighting the wide philosophical and psychological toolkit it offers to contemporary readers.

NOTE: Abstracts are available here following. Forewords, abbreviations, notes and reviews can be freely read. Articles can be singularly purchased in pdf digital format.
The paper volume can be bought here.

The essay is divided in three sections. In the first section are briefly presented the area of interest of the Psychology of Worldviews, its methodology, its sources. Precisely in the determination of the principle of the ordering of the worldviews – constituted by the relationship of distinction between subject and object – appears a first reference to the “mystic” as the only experience that overcomes the subject-object split and immediate adheres to the Absolute. The second section, moving from the distinction of psychological reality into attitudes towards the world, images of the world, and spiritual types, focuses on the analysis of the mystical attitude for which Jaspers refers in particular to the thought of Meister Eckhart. The third section is devoted to the broader treatment of mysticism which is found at the end of the third part of the Psychology of the worldviews – the life of the spirit, whose partition is mentioned in the two areas of rationalism and demonic and within this in the spiritual types of realism, romanticism and holiness, which borders on mysticism.Read more
The first part of the paper provides a critical reconstruction of Psychologie der Weltanschauungen by Jaspers. The author analyses the structure of the work, the connection between the chapters, paying particular attention to the concepts of «Gehäuse» and «Grenzsituationen», «Liebe» and «dämonische» personality. Starting from Psychologie der Weltanschauungen and also with reference to later works such as Die geistige Situation der Zeit (1931) and Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte (1949), the second part analyses the problem of history and historicity. Jaspers’ conception of the history is existentialist and decidedly anti-historicistic, as it appears in the discontinuistic treatment of the «Augenblick», that Jaspers contrasts with the inert continuism of Weltgeschichte. However, after the Psychologie der Weltanschauungen, Jaspers’ interest in history becomes less instrumental and casuistic. The concept of «Axenzeit» and the marked interest in prehistory move in this direction and link Jaspers’ research with that of Alfred Weber and Spengler (common interest towards chariots and people on horseback).Read more
This contribution highlights the acquisition of phenomenological psychopathology following Karl Jaspers’s profound and wholly original intuition concerning the question of the nihilism of psychoses. In order to understand and relate to people with psychosis and in the light of Jaspers’s successive conceptualizations, it is evident that his intuition regarding the absolute nihilism of psychosis is central to psychopathology. Today we can talk about an ontic, existential, factual, worldly nihilism with regards to melancholy, while on the other hand we can talk about an ontological, transcendental nihilism, which tragically undermines the fundamental structure of Dasein, regarding schizophrenia. Ultimately, both mental illnesses tend to express the unavoidable need all human beings have to take root in a lost past (and which, for this very reason, never passes) or in a future (which never happens). This is especially true when the relationship with others is no longer based on the obviousness of common sense.Read more
In the Psychology of the worldviews, Jaspers attaches great importance to the figure of Nietzsche who becomes the philosopher capable of looking at the singularity and dialectic of any concrete subjective existence. The essay intends to argue that in the work of 1919, Jaspers begins to develop a new way of thinking about individuality, with its epistemological and ethical potential, which will quickly shape philosophical and existential reflection. And this transformation occurs largely in comparison with the personality of Friedrich Nietzsche, who later becomes even an “exemplarity”.Read more
This paper investigates some of the main passages present in the considerations and notes of the posthumous fragments contained in the so-called “Schwarze Hefte” in which M. Heidegger once again expresses himself in a very critical way regarding the sharp contrast between the setting of his own thought meta-metaphysical and the mere existentialist philosophizing of K. Jaspers, as particularly oriented in an anthropological and psychological-weltanschaulich way. Heidegger’s critique focuses mainly on the fact that Jaspers works with a philosophically naive psychological-vitalistic-existentialist concept of “worldview” that fails to properly thematize and adequately show the silent historical-epochal sense of its own peculiar modern metaphysical background, which is that of the apparition of the irreversible nihilistic dissolution (disappearance) of the World, that is, of the Ek-sistenz itself (and therefore of Temporality itself), in a mere calculating representation, in historiation and historiography, in technical-historiographical put-in-form, i.e. in image, in “Weltbild”.Read more
In “Philosophie als strenge Wissenschaft” Husserl criticizes “Weltanschauungsphilosophie”, a style of philosophizing that he associates with Dilthey. Linking it to historicism as a way of philosophizing that facilitates relativism and skepticism, Husserl contrasts “Weltanschauungsphilosophie” with phenomenology as an absolute science of pure essences. In doing so, he presents phenomenology as providing the philosophical resources for overcoming “Weltanschauungsphilosophie” and for transcending Weltanschauungen. Bracketing the question concerning the validity of Husserl’s critique of Dilthey, this interpretation of his phenomenology seems to suggest a fundamental opposition between Husserl’s way of doing philosophy and that of Jaspers, whose “Psychology der Weltanschauungen” can be understood as an essay in understanding how and why persons, including some philosophers, adopt their Weltanschauungen. On the other hand, Stein claims not only that Husserl has a Weltanschauung but also that his foundational transcendental idealism is not a position that he can justify philosophically but rather an expression of his Weltanschauung. In this paper, I argue that Stein’s observations are worthy of careful inspection insofar as there is clear and convincing evidence that Husserl has a Weltanschauung and that it emerges in his phenomenology. I base my argument on texts in the recently published Husserliana volume XLII: “Grenzprobleme der Phänomenologie”. This approach, which also touches on Heidegger’s critique of Jaspers, suggests that the question concerning the relationship between Husserl’s phenomenology of Weltanschauungen and Jaspers’s psychology of Weltanschauungen should be reopened.Read more
This paper focuses on Jaspers’ notion of philosophy. In the centre of my analyses stands the transition of his “verstehende Psychologie” – the methodical core of his Psychologie der Weltanschauungen – to the so-called “Existenzerhellung”, which stands for his later existential concept. My assumption is, that the Psychologie der Weltanschauungen not only anticipates theorems, notions and basic considerations of his later thought, but that the whole of Jaspers’ philosophy has its origin in a cultural-historical embossed, psychological interest.Read more
Karl Jaspers’ existential concept of death is centred on the notion of boundary situations which is an essential part of his existence philosophy. For him, situations are unavoidable conditions of man’s existence, but he  makes a distinction between a situation and a boundary situation. One may experience boundary situations when one’s life is shattered by some extreme circumstances that one cannot master. These situations are historically definite and unique. He emphasises that they cannot be wholly grasped or penetrated by the individual and cannot be resolved by objective solutions. What Jaspers calls ‘specific boundary situations’ are struggle, suffering, guilt, and death. These situations are significant as they enable the individual to achieve true selfhood, namely Existenz, in such extreme situations. According to Jaspers, the achievement of true inner self is possible only in boundary situations or existential communication. Jaspers’ original analyses of boundary situations can be found in his Psychologie der Weltanschauungen. Later on, in his Philosophy he develops his concept of boundary situations further without much change. The existential experience of boundary situations will be surveyed here with reference to both books.Read more
The aim of this work is to investigate the modalities and measure of the Kantian presence within Die Psychologie der Weltanschauungen. To this goal it will be therefore necessary first of all to determine what is a Weltanschauung within the Jaspersian perspective, and then, to reflect on the motivations that push Jaspers to adopt a Kantian approach to this theme and, finally, if and in what terms this approach may not be considered an implicit or hidden Weltanschauung too. Finally, admitting the presence of an implicit Weltanschauung within the Jaspersian approach, it will be decisive to understand whether this implicit Weltanschauung is also consciously adopted by Jaspers and, if so, for what reason.Read more
The present essay intends to designate some kantian topics which occurr in Jaspers’s thought. The dialogue between Jaspers and Kant begins from Psychology of World Vision, in which Jaspers reflects on the doctrine of ideas. Furthermore, from Jasper’s point of view, Kant is the first philosopher to reflect about the radical dichotomy between subject and object. Then, the idea acts, inside the subject, as a psychic strenght which tends to the all-embracing unity. But, this effort is destined to remain unfinished. The idea’s failure underlines life’s antinomic structure. The vital process is a dialectical movement between opposite trends: on one side, there is the creation of new objective forms; on the other side, there is the destruction of the same. The destruction is necessary to avoid the stagnation of dynamism and the death of the idea. Kant’s influence on jaspersian philosophy is even more evident in Philosophy, in which the trascendental method becomes the method of trascendence. The categories are now functions at the service of trascendence and they are useful, to the subject, to go beyond the objective scope. Relativising is the task that Jaspers confers to the reason, which occupies a different role from the intellect. In fact, Jaspers revises- in existentialist key- the kantian distinction between reason and intellect. In Reason and Existence, he theorizes a concept of reason inspired from kantian model, but he binds it to an historical and individual dimension.Read more
The present essay uncovers the psychological-existential meaning and role that Karl Jaspers attributes to negativum in Psychologie der Weltanschauungen (1919). By analysing the asymptotic dimension of mental illness (Allgemeine Psychopathologie, 1913) and the ambivalent nature of Jasper’s concept of Weltanschauung and Gehäuse, I claim that negativum plays a fundamental role whereby the human being lives in existential insecuritas (Abgrund), but also can be opened up to an essential and unconventional horizon of sense.Read more

E. Cioran, Introduzione a Recensione a Psicologia delle visioni del mondo (Mattia Luigi Pozzi)

Karl Jaspers, Psicologia delle visioni del mondo (Emil Cioran)

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