Born in Northern Germany, Karl Jaspers went through the XX century with different sensitivities and competencies: those of a medician and psychopathologist, a researcher of the human soul, a philosopher of the existence, a critical observer of the historical events, and the social and political transformations, a German and European intellectual. He was receptive to diverse intellectual traditions and innovative trends, he came in touch, personally or by studying, with some of the most influential and distinguished voices from the XX century German culture, from Wilhelm Dilthey to Max Weber, from the sociological to the literary and Kierkegaardian circles, from the phenomenological approach to the psychiatric school. The many (five in all) nominations to the Nobel Prize which Jaspers gained throughout his life, without ever getting the famous medal, are the evidence of that broad spectrum of studies and the trace of his fruitful intellectual versatility. To this web of “influences and interferences” is dedicated the issue VIII (2020) of the journal “Studi Jaspersiani” which aims at documenting Jaspers’ relationship with his contemporaries. The result is a journey across the century and through the disciplines, from medicine to history. It testifies the achievements of a man who during his way was urged by the purest philosophical will: to keep on knowing the human being.
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Kurt Salamun (University of Graz, Austria)
Marco Deodati (Università degli Studi di Roma Tor Vergata, Italy)
Domenico Conte (Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Italy)
The essay mainly analyzes Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte (1949), considered as Karl Jaspers’ “historical” book. However, the author not only confronts the famous thesis of the “Axial” Age, predominant in secondary literature, but he also examines other aspects considered equally essential: the idea of prehistory in Jaspers, the pessimistic analysis of the contemporary world, the expectation of a better future not without eschatological vibrations. Apparently endless, universal history is only a blink of an eye compared to the immeasurable dimension of the future. Universal history serves as equipment for the future.
Giancarlo Magnano San Lio (Università degli Studi di Catania, Italy)
The essay relates some basic themes of Karl Jaspers’ philosophical research with certain significant elements of Wilhelm Dilthey’s thought. In particular, the consideration of man is stressed as a complex functional totality never attributable simply to the theoretical element and to the cognitive dimension. In this perspective, the visions of the world, as significant manifestations of the history of culture, fully represent this overall and irreducible dimension of the human being.
Elena Alessiato (Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy)
The present paper explores one significant episode of the Kierkegaard-Renaissance which took place in Germany at the beginning of the twentieth century, thanks mostly to the works and translations of Theodor Haecker. In particular, the reception of Kierkegaard’s book Two Ages draws attention. The book, originally published in 1845 and translated into German in 1914, displays a pioneering criticism of mass society. It was allegedly well known by German intellectuals of that time, among them also Karl Jaspers. The final section of the paper analyzes the similarities between Kierkegaard’s criticism and Jaspers’ critical view of mass society as it is exposed in Die geistige Situation der Zeit. What ensues is both a vivid sketch of the age of European culture and a new exploration of Jaspers’ intellectual sources, casting light on his role as an actor in the twentieth century’s Kierkegaard-Renaissance.
Oliver Immel (Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities, Germany)
This paper focuses on the relationship between Max Weber’s Verstehender Soziologie and Jaspers’ project of a Verstehenden Psychologie der Weltanschauungen. At the center of my paper stands the influence of Weber’s scientific intention and his methodological instruments of sociological research on Jaspers’ early work. By comparison mainly of methodological aspects, the well-known relationship between the two thinkers, hitherto rarely observed from the angle of substantial similarities, shall show what Jaspers owed to Weber and in which respect he felt obliged to Weber’s work.
Marica Magnano San Lio (Università degli Studi di Catania, Italy)
This paper aims to reconstruct some fundamental coordinates of Wilhelm Griesinger’s psychiatric conception in order to highlight its influence on Karl Jaspers’ work. In particular, it is shown that we should question the passed down paradigm that sees Griesinger perfectly inserted in the scientific and materialist current of psychiatry. This is especially because in his work it is possible to retrace evident elements of critical openness and significant novelty, relative to both the overcoming of philosophical-idealistic suggestions about time and to the recovery of psychology in its role in the theory and practice of psychiatry.
Reinhard Schulz (Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, Germany)
Jaspers’ Nature and Ethics, translated and first published in the Science of Culture Series in 1952, is a stimulating paper describing some similarities and differences between Jaspers’ philosophy of existence and Rudolf zur Lippe’s anthropological aesthetics. In particular, the opposites of concrete transcendence (zur Lippe) and the cipher of transcendence (Jaspers) show two different models for the interpretation of the interplay between existence and transcendence. Beside the philosophy of existence, this study can be fruitful for philosophical ideas in anthropology, aesthetics, ethics, and the philosophy of nature.
Tiziano Acciavatti (Independent researcher)
Karl Jaspers grew up scientifically and clinically without having a defined master or being a member of a specific cultural school. His work as a psychopathologist draws on different sources in the context of the Methodenstreit. The aim of this paper is to analyze the main cultural references of the young Karl Jaspers and the relationships between his ideas and the thought of Dilthey, Husserl and Weber. What is original and specific about Karl Jaspers in the fields of psychology and psychiatry? Is there something that has a preserved validity in his work? We will answer some of these questions, also implementing a comparison with the current dominant conceptions in psychiatry.
Elia Gonnella (Università degli Studi di Verona, Italy)
Starting from Jaspers’ analysis of attitudes in Psychologie der Weltanschauungen and analyzing their causes, we find an essential description of the human being. The human condition of being in the world (Heidegger, Jaspers) can be troubled (Freud, Jung). However, this is characteristic for human life (Jaspers, Schellenbaum). Among all attitudes, the enthusiastic one is the more consistent with human being’s dynamic nature (Bergson, Jaspers, Schellenbaum). The human being feels himself deeply touched (Scheler, Jaspers) and becomes stunned. The aim of the paper is to show that the enthusiastic view is well exposed by the act of singing. Traditionally analysed in connection with art (Cassirer, Solger, Wackenroder), the enthusiastic view gives us a “sound image” of the human being since his childhood (Gehlen, Leydi). In everyday life and by all its difficulties (Freud, Jung, Schellenbaum, Jaspers), the human being discloses his nature in acoustic manifestations (Keil, Kafka, Wackenroder) by expressing the enthusiastic mode.
Chantal Marazia (Heinrich-Heine-University of Düsseldorf, Germany)
Nils Hansson (Heinrich-Heine -University of Düsseldorf, Germany)
Between 1950 and 1960, Karl Jaspers was nominated five times for a Nobel Prize: twice for Physiology or Medicine, and three times for Literature. The nominations and their evaluation by the Nobel Committees are the focus of this paper. Here they are approached as representations (in the double sense of perception and staging) of Jaspers as a contemporary.
G. Cantillo, Esistenza, Ragione e Trascendenza. Studi su Karl Jaspers (Elena Alessiato, Università degli Studi di Genova, Italy)
P. Ricci Sindoni (cur.), Un filosofo tra i filosofi. Karl Jaspers e il pensiero occidentale (Alessandra Bocchetti, Università degli Studi di Napoli Federico II, Italy)
R. Garaventa, «La verità è ciò che unisce». Attualità del pensiero di Karl Jaspers (Piergiacomo Severini, Università G. d‘Annunzio di Chieti-Pescara, Italy)