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Last edited by GBH
December 1, 2016 | History

Karl Jaspers

1883 - 1969

"Karl Jaspers (1883–1969) began his academic career working as a psychiatrist and, after a period of transition, he converted to philosophy in the early 1920s. Throughout the middle decades of the twentieth century he exercised considerable influence on a number of areas of philosophical inquiry: especially on epistemology, the philosophy of religion, and political theory. His philosophy has its foundation in a subjective-experiential transformation of Kantian philosophy, which reconstructs Kantian transcendentalism as a doctrine of particular experience and spontaneous freedom, and emphasizes the constitutive importance of lived existence for authentic knowledge. Jaspers obtained his widest influence, not through his philosophy, but through his writings on governmental conditions in Germany, and after the collapse of National Socialist regime he emerged as a powerful spokesperson for moral-democratic education and reorientation in the Federal Republic of Germany.

Despite his importance in the evolution of both philosophy and political theory in twentieth-century Germany, today Jaspers is a neglected thinker. He did not found a particular philosophical school, he did not attract a cohort of apostles, and, outside Germany at least, his works are not often the subject of high philosophical discussion. This is partly the result of the fact that the philosophers who now enjoy undisputed dominance in modern German philosophical history, especially Martin Heidegger, Georg Lukács and Theodor W. Adorno, wrote disparagingly about Jaspers, and they were often unwilling to take his work entirely seriously. To a perhaps still greater extent, however, his relative marginality is due to the fact that he is associated with the more prosaic periods of German political life, and his name is tarred with an aura of staid bourgeois common sense. Nonetheless, Jaspers' work set the parameters for a number of different philosophical debates, the consequences of which remain deeply influential in contemporary philosophy, and in recent years there have been signs that a more favourable reconstructive approach to his work is beginning to prevail."

—Quoted from the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

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History Created April 1, 2008 · 8 revisions
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December 1, 2016 Edited by GBH Italicised name of source.
December 1, 2016 Edited by GBH Edited without comment.
June 6, 2012 Edited by VacuumBot Removed period from death date
July 16, 2011 Edited by 91.214.32.95 Added new photo
April 1, 2008 Created by an anonymous user initial import