Diversity in unity in post-truth times: Max Weber’s challenge and Karl Jaspers’s response

Philosophy and Social Criticism 46 (6):703-733 (2020)
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Max Weber famously diagnosed both an excess and a subordination of meaning in modernity when he coined the term disenchantment next to the fragmentation and irreconcilability of value spheres. Unlike Weber, however, who sought to keep the ideological and the rationalist sides of the modern divide together, his immediate followers capitalized either on his decisionism (i.e. Carl Schmitt) or on his universalism (i.e. Jürgen Habermas). In an attempt to develop a constructive perspective on the question of how we can conceive of irreconcilable values within a larger normative horizon, this article introduces Karl Jaspers’s interpretation and refinement of Weber’s work. Most fundamentally, Jaspers’s existentialist philosophy of communication sought to turn Weber’s warring gods into a source of solidarity rather than divisiveness. I argue that Jaspers did so in rooting human freedom not in the decision or the law but in an experiential uncertainty and the knowledge not to know. The article closes with a discussion of some practical and theoretical implications of Jaspers’s thought for our understanding of diversity in unity in post-truth times.



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Critique of Practical Reason.Immanuel Kant (ed.) - 1788 - New York,: Hackett Publishing Company.
Being and Time.Ronald W. Hepburn - 1964 - Philosophical Quarterly 14 (56):276.
Being and Time: A Translation of Sein Und Zeit.Martin Heidegger - 1996 - State University of New York Press.

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