Review of Metaphysics 34 (2):386-387 (1980)

Jaspers’s autobiography presents reflection upon the career and work of one of Germany’s leading existential philosophers. He describes briefly his early life and offers reflection upon his study and work in psychiatry. One can readily find the seeds of his later philosophical reflections evident in his General Psychopathology. Jaspers also presents illuminating discussion of his academic career, his political reflections, and comments upon the relationship of his philosophical analysis to his theological orientation. He offers extended discussion of each of his major philosophical books, with insight into the origin and intentions of each volume. In addition, he presents valuable comments upon the philosophical climate of Germany against which he succeeded in reacting with vigor. Special attention is given to Rickert and E. Mayer. His rather detailed description of his relationship with Heidegger is especially illuminating. Although both of these thinkers played a leading role in the development and elaboration of German existentialism, there has been little direct and explicit consideration of the works of one by the other, or comments upon their "Being-With." Jaspers tells of his early and friendly relationship with Heidegger, their long working conversations, how their thought wandered down different pathways, and his reaction to Heidegger’s involvement in the rise of National Socialism. He also writes of his reaction to Heidegger’s Being and Time, of his unfulfilled intention to write seriously upon this work, and of how divorced his own thought was from Heidegger’s way, so that it did not even affect his own philosophical development. He describes the gradual cooling of the early friendship, and the eventual cessation of the long conversations and visits. All of the above offers a more intimate glimpse into the intersubjectivity of two of Europe’s leading thinkers, as seen by one of the participants, than has been readily available to the Western public to date. Perhaps someday there will be a publication of whatever Jaspers-Heidegger correspondence remains extant.—H.A.D.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1980342116
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