Karl Jaspers (Oldenburg, February 23rd 1883 - Basle, February 26th 1969), psychiatrist and German Philosopher , is representative of the Christian Existentialisme. Its work had a great influence on the Théologie, the Psychologie, the Psychiatrie and the Philosophie.
Born from a father lawyer and a mother working in an agricultural cooperative, Jaspers shows an early interest for philosophy, although the paternal course within the legal system undoubtedly pushed it to study the Droit at the time of its entry to the Université. It was however quickly obvious for him that the right was not the right track, which pushed it to start medical studies in 1902.
Jaspers obtained its doctorate in medicine in 1909 and started to work in a psychiatric hospital of Heidelberg, where Emil Kraepelin had exerted itself a few years before. Jaspers was not satisfied a way in which the medical community of the time approached the mental disease and tried to improve this approach. In 1913, it receives a temporary post of professor of psychology to the Université of Heidelberg. This station quickly became permanent, which enabled him never not to take again its clinical activity.
At the 40 years age, Jaspers turns to philosophy, exploring the topics which it had started during its activity of psychiatrist. He became a famous philosopher, respected and recognized through Europe and remained influential within the philosophical community until his death in 1969. Three events marked its life. The disease: to 18 years, it is condemned to die before 30 years. Its marriage with Jewish, Mayer. The advent of the socialist national party; it will be private of its pulpit by the Nazis. These limiting experiments of situation and discovered other deeply will influence its philosophical reflection.
Work and the contribution of Karl Jaspers
Contributions with the Psychopathology and psychiatry
Disillusions of Jaspers towards the common approach of the mental disease pushed it to wonder about the diagnostic criteria and the clinical methods of psychiatry. It published a revolutionary article in 1910 in which it posed the problem of the origin of the Paranoïa, aspect of the personality or rather result of biological changes. The problems were not revolutionist, but its method of study was innovating. He had indeed studied several patients in detail, giving biographical information as well as notes on the lived subjective one of the patients with respect to their disorder. This method was made known under the name of bibliographical method , being essential like the standard of modern psychiatry.
Jaspers joins together its writings on the mental disease in its book general Psychopathologie . Two volumes constituting this work became traditional psychiatric literature, so that from many diagnostic criteria rise from the ideas which are exposed there. A major idea of Jaspers is that the Symptôme S (in particular those of the Psychose) must be indexed according to their form rather than their contents (or bottom ). For example, while carrying the diagnosis of hallucination, the fact that the subject perceives visual phenomena in the absence of sensory stimulus to justify them (form) is more important than what is seen (bottom).
Jaspers thought that the illusions could be analyzed in the same way, explaining why a belief should not be regarded as such only according to its contents, but rather by the way in which the illusion is essential on the conscience. Jaspers made also the distinction between primary and secondary illusions. The primary illusions are defined as being created of all parts , independent, not being able to include itself/understand in terms of normal mental process; whereas the secondary illusions can be included/understood because influenced by the antecedents of the individual (his personal history), his current location or his mental state.
It was shown very critical towards the Psychanalyse of which it thought that it mixed with confusion the explanations drawn from the understanding Psychologie of those of the causal psychology what he regarded as an aporia. Here what he wrote:
- " A) At Freud, it is acted in fact of understanding psychology, and not of causal explanation , as it believes it. Causal explanations admittedly play a part when physical data to which a together is attached comprehensible relations are regarded as causes, for example paralysis of an arm, a disorder of the conscience, etc
- B) Freud makes known to us in a way convincing of many comprehensible relations isolated . We include/understand how the complexes driven back out of the clear conscience reappear through symbols. We understand that the driven back instincts involve processes of reaction, and distinction of the Primary process S, authentic, and Secondary process S, which exist only as symbols or a sublimation. Partly, Freud develops here in detail the teaching of Nietzsche. It penetrates deeply in forgotten psychism (unbermerkt), that it brings back to the conscience." in Psychopathology .
Jaspers regarded the primary illusions as entities impossible to include/understand, considering that there did not exist coherent reasoning subjacent with their existence. This sight is not without opposition, and was criticized by specialists such as Ronald Laing and Richard Bentall which supports the idea that to follow this track would lead the psychiatrist to the facility to believe that because it cannot include/understand the patient, then this last will not justify a more thorough investigation on behalf of the doctor, this one being dedicated to being unfruitful.
Contributions with philosophy and theology
Karl Jaspers is generally associated with the movement existentialist, partly because of its ideas resulting from the stakes posed by Friedrich Nietzsche and Søren Kierkegaard and partly because the topic of individual freedom occupies a big part of its work.
In Philosophy (1932), Jaspers gives its point of view on the history of philosophy and presents its main themes. Starting with modern science and empiricism, it points out that while reality is questioned, we face limit of what a scientific or empirical method cannot transcend. At this moment, the individual must face a choice: or to sink in despair and resignation or to take a step towards what Jaspers names the Transcendence. By taking this step, the individual confronts himself with the limitation of his own freedom, which it calls “Existenz”, in order to finally be able to feel a true existence.
The Transcendence (dependant at the end “Including” in its later work) is, for Jaspers, which is beyond the physical world. Its formulation of the Transcendence as ultimate absence of objectivity carried out many philosophers to develop the fact that with final, Jaspers was a Moniste, although Jaspers itself preferred to insist on the need for the recognition of the validity of the concepts of subjectivity and objectivity.
For Jaspers, the term existence ( Existenz ) indicates the intimate and indefinable experiment of the Liberté and the choice; an experiment constituting authenticates it Me individuals waking up with “Including” while being confronted with the suffering, the conflict, the culpability, the chance, and death.
Although it always explicitly rejected the religious doctrines, including the most reducing concept of personal God, Jaspers influenced the contemporary Théologie via its philosophy of the transcendence and the limits of the human experiments. Jaspers itself was deeply influenced by the Christian tradition mystical, in particular by Maître Eckhart and Nicolas of CUSE. It was also interested in Eastern philosophies, in particular with the Bouddhisme. Jaspers started also a public debate with Rudolf Bultmann, in which he criticized the demythification of Christianity curtly operated by Bultmann.
Jaspers wrote also abundantly about the Human rights and of the threats weighing on them caused by modern science, the economy, and the political institutions. During the Second world war, it was forced to leave its post of teacher because of judaïté of his wife, but could reinstate it at the end of the war. Its following work tackled the question of the German responsibility, where it examined the culpability of the Germany like an entity in the atrocities perpetrated by IIIe Reich.
Principal work of Jaspers can be intimidating by their complexity. Its last attempts on the systematization of a philosophy of Existenz ( Von Der Wahrheit , In connection with reality ) are always new. However, its shortest work, in particular Introduction to philosophy , are accessible to all.
The philosophy of Jaspers is readily compared with that of its contemporary Martin Heidegger. Indeed, the two men tried to explore the direction to be it ( Sein ) and of the existence ( Dasein ). They were briefly friendly, but their relation worsened because of the adhesion of Heidegger to the Nazi party, like because of their differences in sight on philosophy.
The two major actors of the phenomenologic Hermeneutics , Paul Ricœur (one of the students of Jaspers) and Hans-Georg Gadamer (which will succeed Jaspers with Heidelberg) show both in their work the strong influence of Jaspers.
- Introduction to philosophy , Editor: 1018,2001, coll: Libraries, ISBN 2264034440
- Initiation with the philosophical method , ED.: Payot-pocket, 2006, ISBN 2228887420
- German culpability , ED.: Editions of Midnight, 1990, ISBN 2707313637
- Nietzsche: Introduction to its philosophy , ED.: Gallimard-such, 1978, ISBN 2070299341
- Confucius, ED.: Noah editions, 2006, ISBN 2916312013
- general Psychopathology , ED.: Library of untraceable, 2000, coll: Psychoanalyze, ISBN 2845750226
- Jeanne Hersch: Karl Jaspers , ED. The Old one of man, 1978 rééd. 2002, ISBN 2825117277
Hannah Arendt (which was the pupil of Jaspers)
- Jeanne Hersch
- Edmund Husserl
- Emil Kraepelin
- Jean-Paul Sartre
- Congrès for the freedom of the culture
- Gertrud Mayer
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