Karl Theodor Jaspers (1883 - 1969)

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Birthplace: Oldenburg, Germany
Death: Died in Basel, Basel-Stadt, Switzerland
Managed by: Dan Bodenheimer
Last Updated:

About Karl Theodor Jaspers

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Jaspers

Karl Jaspers died at 1:43pm central European time in Basel on 26 Feb 1969 -- his wife's 90th birthday. He was a professor, philosopher, and expert of Kierkegaard.

After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Jaspers was considered to have a "Jewish taint" (jüdische Versippung, in the jargon of the time) due to his Jewish wife, and was removed from his professorship and forced to retire from teaching in 1937. His publication activity was restricted in 1938, and five years later it was officially prohibited by the Reichsschrifttumskammer. He felt himself a marked man until the end of the Second World War, living in imminent danger during the years of the War. Many of his long-time friends stood by him, however, and he was able to continue his studies and research without being totally isolated. Under constant threat, Karl Jaspers and his wife Gertrud were finally scheduled to be deported to a concentration camp on April 14, 1945, which was averted when the U.S. Army liberated Heidelberg on March 30th.

After the war, Jaspers played a prominent role as an intellectual working on the public reformation of the German political system. In Feb 1948, he was offered a professorship at the University of Basel in Switzerland, and deeply displeased with the German political developments, he accepted. Moving to Basel, and living there for the rest of his life.

In a letter to his parents, Karl Jaspers reported on his conversations and impressions of his new in-laws, David and Clara Mayer, the parents of his wife Gertrud Mayer.

He called David Mayer a "very fine person who proves by his manner of expression and topic of conversation that he is an educated individual." Jaspers further reported that David Mayer rarely left Prenzlau and had always been in the wholesale wood trade, yes his horizons were broad and he was the "soul of the business" Gertrude Mayer's mother, Clara, was described as an attentive housewife, who preferred to remain in the background due to modesty. According to Karl Jaspers, David Mayer was reported to have remarked upon Jasper's personality to Gertrud: "He is such a dear, pleasant individual -- oh, if only he were Jewish!"

Biography

Karl Theodor Jaspers (February 23, 1883 – February 26, 1969) was a German psychiatrist and philosopher who had a strong influence on modern theology, psychiatry and philosophy. After being trained in and practicing psychiatry, Jaspers turned to philosophical inquiry and attempted to discover an innovative philosophical system. He was often viewed as a major exponent of existentialism in Germany, though he did not accept this label.

Jaspers was born in Oldenburg in 1883 to a mother from a local farming community, and a jurist father. He showed an early interest in philosophy, but his father's experience with the legal system undoubtedly influenced his decision to study law at university. It soon became clear that Jaspers did not particularly enjoy law, and he switched to studying medicine in 1902 with a thesis about criminology.

Jaspers graduated from medical school in 1909 and began work at a psychiatric hospital in Heidelberg where Emil Kraepelin had worked some years earlier. Jaspers became dissatisfied with the way the medical community of the time approached the study of mental illness and set himself the task of improving the psychiatric approach. In 1913 Jaspers gained a temporary post as a psychology teacher at Heidelberg University. The post later became permanent, and Jaspers never returned to clinical practice. During this time Jaspers was a close friend of the Weber family (Max Weber also having held a professorship at Heidelberg).[1]

At the age of 40 Jaspers turned from psychology to philosophy, expanding on themes he had developed in his psychiatric works. He became a renowned philosopher, well respected in Germany and Europe.

After the Nazi seizure of power in 1933, Jaspers was considered to have a "Jewish taint" (jüdische Versippung, in the jargon of the time) due to his Jewish wife, and was forced to retire from teaching in 1937. In 1938 he fell under a publication ban as well. Many of his long-time friends stood by him, however, and he was able to continue his studies and research without being totally isolated. But he and his wife were under constant threat of removal to a concentration camp until March 30, 1945, when Heidelberg was liberated by American troops.

In 1948 Jaspers moved to the University of Basel in Switzerland. He remained prominent in the philosophical community until his death in Basel in 1969.


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Biography: Karl Jaspers: a biography : navigations in truth By Suzanne Kirkbright

Websites:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/jaspers/

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Karl Theodor Jaspers's Timeline

1883
February 23, 1883
Oldenburg, Germany
1907
July 14, 1907
Age 24
1910
September 29, 1910
Age 27
1969
February 26, 1969
Age 86
Basel, Basel-Stadt, Switzerland