Karl Jaspers: Philosophy as Faith

Karl Jaspers: Philosophy as Faith

Karl Jaspers: Philosophy as Faith

Karl Jaspers: Philosophy as Faith

Excerpt

Karl Jaspers's philosophical achievement is varied and is presented in many works which differ in size, scope, aim, and plan. The reader, wondering whether the different portions of this achievement are connected and how they are held together, is soon aware of a pervasive unity which binds them, unmistakably, as testaments of a single mind. However, no attempt to articulate this awareness of unity and to indicate basic features unfailingly underlying all his work would succeed. We find that we have entered an open-ended thought structure which lends itself to ever fresh modification. We meet more or less recurring methods and methodologies, concerns and conceptions, distinctions and syntheses which, functioning as sources of disquiet much in the manner of horologic balances, move and direct the structure. We would be incorrect in regarding any one of these impulses as controlling the rest. However, the more prominent of these tend to beat in concert and reverberate on the many levels of the structure: if we focus on one we shall be able to gain and to give a measure of insight into the broad range of Jaspers's philosophy, but there are various approaches to Jaspers, each emphasizing what is in a collateral position and, hence, receiving different treatment in another approach.

Let us look at the alternatives. This will serve to place my choice of Jaspers's notion of philosophical faith in proper perspective and will aid in describing the reasons for this choice. It will also acquaint us prima facie with the recurrent impulses of Jaspers's thinking. The alternatives which seem to me to be of primary importance and which I shall now briefly consider are freedom; the distinction between Being in itself and as it appears, and that between subject and object; methodology and the transcendental method; the cipher; the practical and political import of philosophical thought; the ingenuous synthesis; periechontology; general fundamental knowledge; and philosophical faith.

Jaspers is, first and foremost, a philospher of freedom. His spirited promotion of the possibilities of man's freedom, particularly in view of the opportunities and dangers posed by the remarkable development of modern science and its technological utilization, affects his manner of treating philosophical problems. It affects, of . . .

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