Philosophy [Book Review]

Review of Metaphysics 26 (1):161-162 (1972)

This second of the three volumes of Philosophy is entitled "Existential Elucidation". Existential man is characterized by two features, historicity and freedom. Like Heidegger, Jaspers stresses that existential decisions receive their content and raw material from the historical situation. But unlike Heidegger his account of historicity also involves a theory of "communication." Part III of this book consists in the famous description of "boundary situations." A boundary situation is the encounter of man with his own limits and finitude. The most important boundary situation is—like Heidegger—death, but once again—unlike Heidegger— Jaspers lays emphasis upon the death of the beloved as well as on one’s own death. In the limit situation man is summoned to embrace his life and to give it an "absolute" worth, despite its inevitable empirical dissolution. In so doing man transcends mere empirical reality and achieves "absolute consciousness." Then alone can man acquire an authentic attitude towards the universal—the law and the state—and then alone can he enter into true community. The follow up volume of Philosophy—"Metaphysics"—will discuss what the boundary situation reveals: being in itself or "transcendence." Ashton’s translation is admirable throughout. There is no index.—J. D. C.
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