Karl Jaspers

From Selfhood to Being


This book traces the work of German philosopher Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) from his origins as a young psychiatrist up to his maturity as an existentialist philosopher. The critique of Jaspers’s thought follows his attempts to grant meaning to the human search for self-understanding. It reveals the difficulties and frustrations entailed in this search. The book reveals to the reader Jaspers’s handling of these difficulties through constituting a philosophical relation toward the Being existing beyond the individual: other people, the world, and transcendence. In this book, the author conducts an ongoing dialog with existing research into Jaspers’s work, and proposes her own new reading. As well as critiquing the existing interpretations, the author uncovers the challenges Jaspers’s character has presented the readers. Unlike most scholars, who generally ignored Jaspers’s early writings, dealing with psychiatry and psychology, this book suggests a philosophical reading of these writings. This exposes the unity of the world from which Jaspers created, first as a psychiatrist and later as a philosopher. This reading shows Jaspers’s work as an ambitious attempt to formulate an original perception of the two basic themes that have interested philosophy and human thought throughout the ages: Selfhood and Being.

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Table of contents

The Explication of Selfhood
Selfhood through Mental Illness
Selfhood in World Views
Selfhood and the World
Selfhood in Its Own Eyes
Transition Mechanisms
Introduction to Transition Mechanisms: From the Explication of Selfhood to the Explication of Being
Boundary Situations
Transition Mechanisms: A Concluding Overview
The Explication of Being
The “Foundering”
Being as Encompassing
The Ciphers of Transcendence
Between Being and Transcendence
About the Author

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