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Karl Jaspers

AKA Karl Theodor Jaspers

Born: 23-Feb-1883
Birthplace: Oldenburg, Germany
Died: 26-Feb-1969
Location of death: Basel, Switzerland
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Religion: Christian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Philosopher

Nationality: Germany
Executive summary: Existential thinker

German psychiatrist and philosopher Karl Jaspers (pronounced Yaspers) studied law but became bored, and switched to medicine. After medical school he worked at a psychiatric hospital, but grew dissatisfied with medicine, and instead found work teaching psychology. Ten years later he gave up on psychology, and began teaching philosophy. Married to a Jewish woman and strongly opposed to Nazism, Jaspers was prohibited to either teach or publish during World War II, and was ordered to a concentration camp in 1945, only to be saved by allied forces' occupation of Heidelberg. After the war, he wrote one of the first academic analysis of Nazi Germany, The Question of German Guilt.

Among his contributions to psychiatry, he was among the first psychiatrists to propose what is now called the biographical method, where the experiences and feelings of paranoia patients are noted and considered. His two-volume General Psychopathology introduced several components of modern diagnostic criteria. As a philosopher, he is considered one of the most important figures in existentialism, building upon the works of Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche. He wrote at length on the dangers to human freedom inherent in modern science and modern political institutions, and proposed that the practical purpose of philosophy is to find fulfillment in human existence. His students included Hans-Georg Gadamer.

Father: Carl William Jaspers (attorney)
Mother: Henriette Jaspers (farmer)
Wife: Gertrud Mayer Jaspers (m. 1910)

    High School: Oldenburg Gymnasium, Oldenburg, Germany (1901)
    Law School: University of Freiburg (attended 1901-03)
    Law School: University of Munich (attended 1903)
    Medical School: University of Berlin (attended 1903)
    Medical School: University of Göttingen (attended 1903-06)
    Medical School: MD, University of Heidelberg (1909)
    Medical School: PhD Psychiatry, University of Heidelberg (1909)
    Teacher: Psychology, University of Heidelberg (1913-16)
    Professor: Psychology, University of Heidelberg (1916-22)
    Teacher: Philosophy, University of Heidelberg (1921-22)
    Professor: Philosophy, University of Heidelberg (1922-33 and 1945-48)
    Professor: Philosophy, University of Basel (1948-69)

    Erasmus Prize 1959
    Friedenspreis des Deutschen Buchhandels 1958
    Asteroid Namesake 48435 Jaspers
    Nazi Concentration Camp Inmate

Author of books:
Allgemeine Psychopathologie: Ein Leitfaden für Studierende, Ärzte und Psychologen (General Psychopathology) (1913)
Psychologie der Weltanschauungen (Psychology of the World-View) (1919)
Die Idee der Universität (The Idea of the University) (1923)
Die Geistige Situation der Zeit (Man in the Modern Age) (1931)
Philosophie (Philosophy) (1932)
Vernunft und Existenz (Reason and Existenz) (1935)
Nietzsche: Einführung in das Verständnis seines Philosophierens (Nietzsche: An Introduction to his Philosophical Activity) (1936)
Existenzphilosophie (Philosophy of Existence) (1938)
Die Schuldfrage (The Question of German Guilt) (1946)
Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte (The Origin and the Goal of History) (1949)
Einführung in die Philosophie (Way to Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy) (1950)
Vernunft und Widervernunft in unserer Zeit (Reason and Anti-Reason in our Time) (1950)
Die Frage der Entmythologisierug (Myth and Christianity) (1954, with Rudolf Bultmann)
Der philosophische Glaube angesichts der Christlichen Offenbarung (Philosophical Faith and Revelation) (1962)
Wohin treibt die Bundesrepublik? (The Future of Germany) (1966)


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