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Karl Jaspers (1883 – 1969) was a German/Swiss existential philosopher. Only in those moments when I exercise my freedom am I fully myself.

Karl Jaspers German/Swiss philosopher

Dr. Karl Jaspers in 1910, and not yet a wholehearted philosopher.

Quotations from Karl Jaspers sourced from, WikiQuotes, GoodReadsBrainyQuote, AZquotes,

Just as primitive man believed himself to stand face to face with demons and believed that could he but know their names he would become their master, so is contemporary man faced by this incomprehensible, which disorders his calculations. “If I can but grasp it, if I can but cognise it”, so he thinks, “I can make it my servant.”

The Greek word for philosopher (philosophos) connotes a distinction from sophos. It signifies the lover of wisdom (knowledge) as distinguished from him who considers himself wise in the possession of knowledge. This meaning of the word still endures: the essence of philosophy is not the possession of the truth but the search for truth….Philosophy means to be on the way. Its questions are more essential than its answers, and every answer becomes a new question.

Philosophy as practice does not mean its restriction to utility or applicability, that is, to what serves morality or produces serenity of soul.

Even the most elevated psychological understanding is not a loving understanding.

Man is always something more than what he knows of himself. He is not what he is simply once and for all, but is a process; he is not merely an extant life, but is, within that life, endowed with possibilities through the freedom he possesses to make of himself what he will by the activities on which he decides.

What makes us afraid is our great freedom in the face of the emptiness that has still to be filled.

We must learn to talk with each other, and we mutually must understand and accept one another in our extraordinary differences.

Reason is like an open secret that can become known to anyone at any time; it is the quiet space into which everyone can enter through his own thought.

Only in those moments when I exercise my freedom am I fully myself.

A scientific approach means knowing what one knows and what one doesn’t. Absolute or complete knowledge is unscientific.

The great philosophers and the great works are standards for the selection of what is essential.

The teacher of love teaches struggle. The teacher of lifeless isolation from the world teaches peace.

If he wants to make his livelihood by intellectual activity, he will find it very difficult to do this except by satisfying the needs of the many. He must give currency to something that will please the crowd.

It is questionable whether there does not exist in man an obscure and blind will to make war; an impulse towards change, towards emergence from the familiarities of everyday life and from the stabilities of well-known conditions — something like a will to death as a will to annihilation and self-sacrifice, a vague enthusiasm for the upbuilding of a new world.

To decide to become a philosopher seemed as foolish to me as to decide to become a poet. Since my schooldays, however, I was guided by philosophical questions. Philosophy seemed to me the supreme, even the sole, concern of man.

Only as an individual can man become a philosopher.


COMMENTS

Only in those moments when I exercise my freedom am I fully myself. This is the essential goal of philosophy, and it exists, only when, as an individual a man becomes a philosopher. Most of the time a man’s quest is more like an attempt to conquer his personal reality. Just as primitive man believed himself to stand face to face with demons and believed that could he but know their names he would become their master, so is contemporary man faced by this incomprehensible, which disorders his calculations. “If I can but grasp it, if I can but cognise it”, so he thinks, “I can make it my servant.” Only when Jaspers was approaching age forty did he consider becoming a dedicated philosopher, To decide to become a philosopher seemed as foolish to me as to decide to become a poet. Since my schooldays, however, I was guided by philosophical questions. Philosophy seemed to me the supreme, even the sole, concern of man.

The questions Probaway blog posts have been analyzing are the great questions, and not just open-ended ones like philosophers endlessly quest after, but practical ones, that have real answers to real problems. The great philosophers and the great works are standards for the selection of what is essential. By my understanding, if there is no product of thinking humanity that moves on into the distant future, then our existential drama is now approaching its final — THE END

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