PHILOSOPHICAL FAITH AND THE POSSIBILITY OF RELIGIOUS TRUTH IN THE PHILOSOPHY OF KARL JASPERS
By Paul C. Graham University of South Carolina 1999
The Question of Religious Truth
The question of religious truth is one of the most highly charged and enduring questions in western philosophical thought. From the charges of impiety against Socrates for "believing in deities of his own invention instead of the gods recognized by the state" through Medieval Europe to a legion of 20th century philosophical movements, this question has persisted. Indeed, one would be hard-pressed to find anyone who has not at one time or another struggled with this very question. While the question itself is not unique, the answers put forward to its solution are as varied as the many responses to God, Transcendence or Ultimate Reality found in the world's religious traditions. Up until this century, questions of religious truth were largely confined to epistemological issues. St. Thomas Aquinas, St. Anselm, William Paley and others meticulously crafted sophisticated arguments to prove God's existence in hope of providing a solid, rational foundation for their Christian faith. In Medieval Latin Europe, questions of religious truth began to emerge as a struggle between the authority of revelation and the authority of human intellect- the former being embodied by the Roman church, the latter being embodied by the philosophers and professors of philosophy. This unique situation had far reaching spiritual and political implications as these groups tried to come to grips with the fact that these two institutions, who previously believed themselves to be in harmony with one another, were now yielding contradictory conclusions. This unforeseeable crisis climaxed in the events which led up to the Condemnations of 1277 issued by Etienne Tempier, Bishop of Paris, against the faculty of arts at the University of Paris. Bishop Tempier, determined to eradicate the problem of conflicting truth claims between philosophy and the church, makes the church's authoritative position clear in the following strong words:
We have received frequent reports, inspired by zeal for the faith, on the part of important and serious persons to the effect that some students of the arts in Paris are exceeding the boundaries of their own faculty and are presuming to treat and discuss, as if they were debatable in the schools, certain obvious and loathsome errors... we, having taken council with the doctors of Sacred Scripture and other prudent men, strictly forbid these things and like things and totally condemn them. We excommunicate all those who shall have taught the said errors or any one of them, or shall have dared in any way to defend or uphold them, or even listen to them, unless they choose to reveal themselves to us or to the chancery of Paris within seven days; in addition to which we shall proceed against them by inflicting such other penalties as the law requires according to the nature of the offense.
This event would contribute to a cleavage between philosophy and the church that continues today, on the cusp of the 21st century. This is evidenced by the recent encyclical entitled Fides et Ratio by Pope John Paul II. The Pope, while calling for a reconciliation between philosophy and faith, still holds that the fruits of reason must submit to the authority of revealed religion. According to the Pope,
[I]t is the magisterium's duty to respond clearly and strongly when controversial philosophical opinions threaten right understanding of what has been revealed, and when false and partial theories which sow the seed of serious error, confusing the pure and simple faith of the people of God, begin to spread more widely.
These examples, though many others could be cited, establish a long, often confrontational relationship between the fruits of revealed faith and the fruits of human reason. The question of religious truth, however, has taken on yet another persona with the modern technological advances of this century which have brought about an ever-shrinking world and the emergence of a global, multicultural community. We are no longer isolated from non-Christian traditions which, for most of western intellectual history, were a curiosity at best. Hannah Arendt, in her paper Karl Jaspers: Citizen of the World, characterized the modern situation as follows:
[F]or the first time in history all peoples of the earth have a common present: no event of any importance in the history of one country can remain a marginal accident in the history of any other. Every country on earth has become the immediate neighbor of every other country and every man feels the shock of events which take place on the other side of the globe. But this common factual present is not based on a common past and does not in the least guarantee a common future. Technology, having provided the unity of the world, can just as easily destroy it...
With our relatively new confrontation with a variety of religious beliefs and practices, the problem has expanded from the traditional conflict between reason and revealed faith to include the conflict between revealed faith and revealed faith. Even if one were to accept the authority of revealed faith over that of human reason, it would be difficult to justify the authority of one revealed faith over another. Because much of our understanding of ourselves and our relations to others is often formed by our religious or non-religious ideologies, the answers adopted in response to the question of religious truth have far reaching implications in both our public and private lives. Ideally, the role of religion could serve humanity by reconciling differences and fostering peace and understanding among peoples of all persuasions through its essential moral constitution. In reality, however, this is often far from being the case. The brief examples cited above should make this clear. In his study of religious fanaticism, Professor Hal French astutely observed that
Western religions in particular have seen themselves to be in possession of dogmatic truth packages, received through revelatory channels which deny the validity of the channels and content of other traditions. Since these "truth packages" deal with ultimate issues, conflictual factors escalate. These are not regarded as casual and inconsequential differences; "true believers" will view them as life and death matters, to be resolved in verbal or literal combat arenas.
If this is the case, and history indicates that it is, then the nature and scope of these "truth packages" is of the utmost importance.
Jaspers' Contribution to the Question
Although Karl Jaspers does not have an explicit philosophy of religion, having no work devoted exclusively to the topic, he is considered by some to be among the leading philosophers of religion of our time. This is due in part to his taking human existence and experience in all of its various incarnations, including one's religious life, seriously and does not display the philosophical arrogance characteristic of much of 20th century thought. Jaspers brings two important philosophical innovations to the question of religious truth which make him uniquely suited for an exploration of the problem of religious truth. First, Jaspers' understanding of truth as processional, non-static and open provides a useful contrast to the exclusivistic notion of truth characteristic of much religious thought. His idea of truth as discursive process in communication is realized in his identification of the relations between Reason, Existenz and Transcendence. Second, through his introduction of cipher language or the cipher script, Jaspers reveals the inadequacies of empirical language and symbol as transmitters or communicators of Transcendence- a concept he holds cannot be communicated as such. Together these notions expand the positive nature of the limits of human language, thought and understanding and provide a foundation for addressing the question of religious truth which takes the historicity and finitude of human existence as its central point of reference. The following chapters will explore Jaspers' inquiry into the meaning and truth of transcendence for the purpose of using his findings to support and give content to a discussion of the possibility of religious truth. Let us briefly outline how this is to be accomplished. We will begin in the next section by looking at Jaspers' Periechontology. This is his approach to thinking Being which is absolutely Transcendent, encompasses human existence and comes to be understood in what Jaspers calls the modes of existence. Discussion of the thinking of Transcendence raises the question of the language of Transcendence. Section three will explore Jaspers' notion of cipher language and contrast it with literal and symbolic forms of language. The fourth section will explore the truth of Transcendence by discussing Reason and Catholicity, the former being an unlimited openness for truth, while the latter closes this openness through a dogmatic adherence to truth packages held to be universally valid for all mankind. We will discuss the conflict between these two positions to show their application for discussion of religious and philosophical faith. At this point, we will have the working tools required to develop the implications of the previous sections. We will then attempt to show the extent to which Jaspers' thinking and speaking of Transcendence, as embodied in his notion of philosophical faith, provides a model for dealing with the issue of conflicting truth claims in the major world religions.
II. Jaspers' Periechontology: Thinking Transcendence
According to Jaspers, positive and concrete thought takes place within an infinite context or open horizon. Because of this, When questions of truth, or the significance, or the value, or the relation of concrete thoughts are raised, thoughts step into, or "transcend" to, the infinite context which places concrete thoughts into perspective. If truth is to reflect reality, this open horizon must, in some sense, be accounted for. Jaspers examines this context in his Periechontology. Jaspers' Periechontology is an attempt to approach the meaning and truth of transcendence through thinking consciousness. This method stands over and against the branch of metaphysics known as ontology which, Jaspers believes, is both misguided in its assumptions and inadequate for the task. "Ontology," says Jaspers,
purports to be a doctrine of being itself as such and as a whole. In practice, however, it inevitably becomes a particular knowledge of something within being, not a knowledge of being itself...
In Jaspers' view, we do not have Being itself before us as an object of inquiry, therefore, any objective rendering of it "always passes by the truth." Periechontology, in contrast, does not purport to "have" Being, but addresses it by transcendent thinking that explores the limits of ourselves and the world. At the limits, there is only elucidation of Being which is "never completed, never definite, [and] it leaves a margin of indeterminacy." According to Jaspers, the Periechontological method can be divided into two distinct, though interrelated, considerations. The first deals with the kind of being that we are. Jaspers refers to this as the Encompassing-that-we-are (Das Umgreifende das wir sind). This is how we approach the question of the meaning and truth of transcendence as subject. Jaspers' second consideration is called the Encompassing-that-is-being-itself (Das Umgreifende, das das Sein selbst ist) and it addresses the context in which we find ourselves, in what we encounter. Here we approach the meaning and truth of transcendence objectively, as something other than ourselves. Although we may address these considerations as conceptionally distinct, the Encompassing-that-is-being-itself is disclosed to us through the Encompassing-that-we-are so that they are unable to be, in any literal sense, severed in twain. The subject and the object may be considered separately, but only in thinking across their conjunction. When we reach the limits of considering them as distinct and separate, a "dialectical reversal" occurs. If we consider the objective world by itself, we sooner or later realize that it is we who are conceiving it. Likewise, if we consider the subject in isolation, we find ourselves out of context and without content. Our experience rebels against this extreme and we then revert back to the reality of our existence as a factual part of the world. Jaspers is assiduously aware of the subject-object dichotomy one encounters in this kind of investigation. According to Jaspers, thinking consciousness, which he defines as the basic phenomenon of the split into subject and object, is our stage for the appearance of all that is and can be. For this reason, it is the proper condition, indeed, the only condition, which will allow an inquiry into the meaning and truth of transcendence. Jaspers says,
We can illuminate the principles governing the stage: what phenomena there are, and in what sense, and in from which originally different dimensions they come into the light of this stage- and thus, for us, come to be.
It is important to note here that thinking transcendence, for Jaspers, does not mystically transport the subject "out of the world," but rather, "takes him into the world in communication with others, transformed." Together the Encompassing-that-we-are and the Encompassing-that-is-being-itself allow one to address the central questions of who we are or can be as humans and where we find ourselves- what we encounter as other. Without an understanding of these basic conditions, we would be unable to address questions of truth and meaning.
The Encompassing That We Are
For Jaspers, man is an encompassing being. This encompassing is sensed because of the horizons which appear before us when we objectively encounter the world. Every horizon that we encounter encloses us and denies us the prospect beyond. Soern Holm characterizes this situation as follows:
We always live and think within a horizon; but behind it we find a new and wider horizon, behind which there is still another, yet wider, horizon, and so forth, ad infinitum.
In every inquiry there is always more:
We live in a world but do not have the world before us as if we stood outside of it.
For us, says Jaspers, "Being remains open; it draws us on all sides into the unlimited." The Encompassing contains a dialectical feature of uncertainty, being both present and disappearing. It is this condition which makes philosophical thought possible and it is the circumstance under which Being becomes for us an existential realization rather than an object at hand to be grasped in its totality by our cognition. According to Jaspers, our experience of the Encompassing-that-we-are, when illuminated, reveals that this Encompassing is divided into modes. These modes are Existence (Dasein), Consciousness-as-such (Bewusstsein uberhaupt), Spirit (Geist), and Existenz. Let us briefly consider each. The mode of Existence is revealed in the experience of our bodies, sensory experiences, drives, wants, cares, sufferings, et cetera. Existence is our unique, self awareness of the world and objective reality. In the mode of Existence,
We find existence as the unreflecting experience of life in our world. It is immediate and unquestioning, the reality which everything must enter so as to be real for us... We instinctively relate existence to narrowed concepts, to the living body, the inner experience, to the subjective perception of something without by something within, to finding and shaping an environment.
We see ourselves as experiencing these things in an intimately involved manner, not as merely a subject observing objects, unconcerned and detached:
If, merely looking at my life, I become an observer, I become estranged from it and no longer find myself within the moment of its actuality.
In Existence, we are always more than we know or can know about. Because of this, empirical existence bears within itself the urge to go beyond itself. When we begin to consider and reflect upon our existence objectively, we move from the mode of Existence to the mode of Consciousness-as-such. Consciousness-as-such is the mode in which we objectively encounter things in the world acquired through Existence. Jaspers associates Consciousness-as-such with thought. It is the mode in which we participate in "impersonal, indifferent, but universally valid knowledge." This mode deals expressly with objective facts, information, and the like. Consciousness-as-such is the mode of science; it is concerned with the study and classification of objects and universal knowledge as it relates to the physical world. It is the mode which makes "perceiving, observing, and judgment possible... It is the order of life and things upon which I can depend on and trust." While distinct from the mode of existence, it, nevertheless, participates in it. We reach objective facts through our experience, but because of its (consciousness-as-such) objectivity, existence is problematic because it is always more than the observable facts. Facts always occur in a context which cannot be treated as though it were another objective fact. We are encompassed by this context and may not go beyond it. Jaspers maintains that "significant truth begins precisely where the compelling truth of consciousness-as-such ends." The limit of consciousness-as-such, according to Jaspers, is Being itself. The mode of Spirit is characterized by its will to unity. Jaspers associates this mode with idea or imagination. In this mode we seek to unify into a coherent totality all of our experiences. According to Jaspers, this will to unity "occurs in one's inwardness as well as in the form of a world penetrated by spirit." He goes on to say that
Spirit is as actual as existence and as thought (consciousness- as-such) but, springing from another source, it is more than existence and thought.
Spirit gives form to empirical facts and experiences through its efforts to understand and comprehend both components together. Spirit is, according to Jaspers,
the encompassing in which we draft images and realize the forms of a meaningful world in works. It differs from intellectual calculation and production of tools and machines by consciousness at large [consciousness-as-such]. Unlike the irrational darkness of existence, however, the mind promotes illumination in rapport, in the movement of understanding and being understood.
Spirit pervades what can be grasped objectively and aims at the wholeness and ground. Spirit is not known objectively as an object, having no content of its own, but rather gives life by coloring those things encountered in the modes of Existence and Consciousness-as-such. Any religious, political, artistic, or scientific system of thought which unifies one's experiences and the facts encountered in the world would be an example of how the mode of Spirit colors and gives form to one's perception of themselves and the world. In this case of religion, there is an attempt to account for our experiences and the world in light of revealed truths. Through these truths, questions concerning man, the world, right conduct, etc., are addressed and accounted for. This is accomplished, says Jaspers,
by transforming everything into a temporarily closed system. Its encompassing reality understands, adopts, incorporates everything, eliminating what is alien at the moment.
Spirit demarcates itself through self imposed ideology which, while unifying one's experience of the world, endangers its possibility for freedom, truth and communication by having to continually reinforce its boundaries by absorbing or rejecting anything that calls its premises into question. Spirit, by its very constitution, cannot be open. The final mode is the mode of Existenz. Here Existence, Consciousness-as-such, and Spirit, those modes of the Encompassing that bring one the "actuality of the world as well as its scope," become animated. All persons, to some extent, participate in these three modes. It is only when we are mindful of our participation in as well as the limits of each of these modes that we can begin to realize ourselves as Existenz. According to Jaspers,
Existenz is the origin of authentic actuality without which all the breadth and actuality of existence would evaporate...
Man, as Existenz, actualizes his Encompassing by realizing his capacity to be. Jaspers says,
[Existenz] is always in the process of choosing whether to be or not to be and must decide about itself. I [as Existenz] am not only here, am not merely the focal point of a consciousness-as-such, am not only the locus of intellectual movement and production but can, in all of these, be myself or be lost in them...
Existence, Consciousness-as-such, and Spirit do not, in themselves, illuminate that which is most significant in man. As Existenz, man is transcending- always more than any object which can be investigated. Existenz is never completed because it is realized in time and is always free to choose its way in action or thought until it is no more, that is, it is dead. According to Jaspers,
Existenz is not a kind of being; it is potential being. That is to say, I am not Existenz, but possible Existenz. I do not have myself; I come to myself.
Existenz, however, is dependent upon these other modes and cannot appear without them:
But Existenz has no tangible object side of its own. It must depend on the three modes of encompassing for its medium of appearance. Existenz cannot be objectified, so there can be no science of it, as of life, thought,or imagination.
While Existenz is dependent on the former three modes of the Encompassing, it is always more. It is because man, as Existenz, is always more, that we can say he is transcendening.
The Encompassing that is Being Itself
So far we have discussed what we are as encompassing-beings. We will now discuss what we encounter: the Encompassing that is Being itself. For Jaspers, this Encompassing is that which is truly real. Like the Encompassing that we are, the Encompassing that is Being itself can be divided into immanent and transcendent modes. In man we find the immanent modes of Existence, Consciousness-as-such, and Spirit and the transcendent mode of Existenz. In the Encompassing that is Being itself we have World (immanent) and Transcendence (transcendent). We will briefly characterize this division. For Jaspers, the world is also a being that encompasses. Unlike man, however, who is able to discover his encompassing existentially through the way in which he inwardly encounters the world and its limits, the encompassing of the world must be reached from the outside. We encounter the world as other- we are reached by it, collide with it, et cetera. It is apart from us, yet it encompasses us. The world, as we encounter it, is never exhausted. We can only think a specific world-being within the space of the world-as-encompassing:
[N]o matter how far-reaching the parameters of my world orientation, I am still bounded, for "the world encompassing me no matter how much I attempt to encompass it."
For Jaspers, the world is real, i.e., not mere illusion or appearance, though all world-being that we know is as it appears to man, has appeared to man, or will appear to man in time. As noted earlier, man is an encompassing being. He is always more than any objective appraisal. Yet, as encompassing being, he is encompassed by the world. We also noted that the world, as encompassing, is not exhausted by any specific world-being or objective account of the world. It is always more. It is at the limits that the always-more, the ever receding horizon, shows itself; it is at the limits of man and world that the always-more of Transcendence becomes elucidated. Transcendence is, for Jaspers, the "Encompassing of all that Encompasses." It is the reality that presents itself at the limits of all empirical reality. World-being is being for us only as Existence, Consciousness-as-such, and Spirit. Transcendence, on the other hand, is being for us as Existenz. Just as Existenz is, for Jaspers, the mode of authentic existence, Transcendence is, likewise, the authentic mode of reality, a true reflection of the existential condition in which we find ourselves as beings which are both encompassing and encompassed. Transcendence is the ground from which all other modes of the Encompassing issue forth. Transcendence is no-thing and for this reason cannot be objectified, quantified, or directly grasped:
[T]ranscendence, unlike the other modes of the Encompassing, has no body signifying its presents and solely proper to it, but speaks only through those other modes, enclosed and penetrating them.
Because it is "beyond" the limits of objectification, its characteristics are elusive:
Transcendence is neither quantity nor quality, neither relation nor source, neither one nor many, neither being or nothingness. Transcendence stands over every concept and therefore can neither be exhausted by the objective logical categories nor by the actual categories, nor the freedom categories. It can neither be objectivized, nor naturalized, nor anthromorphized.
Because of these negative characteristics, Transcendence can only be revealed existentially. It should, however, be noted that even negative formulations can be questionable if they are not meant as general expressions of what is essentially unutterable.
III. Linguistic Considerations: Talk of Transcendence
Thus far we have characterized Jaspers' understanding of man (as Existence, Consciousness-as-such, Spirit and Existenz) and what he encounters (World and Transcendence). With this in place, we may now proceed to the question of what we can say about what we encounter. Linguistic considerations are central to the question of the meaning and truth of transcendence because it is through our language that we address such questions. Our language is a reflection of our thought. More importantly, for our consideration, it is through our language that religious groups express their ideology and generate the contradictions that often puts them in conflict with one another. Jaspers' understanding of language and communication is a natural extension of his understanding of man and the way in which he finds himself in the world. We will consider the different ways in which we communicate by characterizing empirical talk and contrasting the traditional notion of symbol with Jaspers' cipher script of cipher language.
In our day to day mundane experience we, for the most part, employ empirical talk in communicating with others. It is the language of the immanent modes of encompassing that we are, especially the mode of Consciousness-as-such. In these modes we talk about facts in their objective form. We are generally so occupied with our immediate goals, objectives and desires and in fulfilling the demands of day to day life that we often fail to address the other modes of our being. We employ this empirical form of language socially in our dealings with others as well as in the formal academic disciplines of science, mathematics, logic, and the like. This language is not, for Jaspers, without value. It is the vehicle of objective truth in time, though it cannot convey the source from which these objective truths issue. Empirical talk can transmit various facts about man and the world, but cannot exhaust the inexhaustible reality of the Transcendence. Jaspers' position here is reminiscent of Ludwig Wittgenstein's philosophy of language as presented in his influential work Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus. Wittgenstein, in this work, was also acutely aware of the finitude of language in the face of Transcendence. According to Wittgenstein, language mirrors the world much in the same way a photograph's image reflects the configuration of the objects photographed. Language, in Wittgenstein's view, can provide the means for talking about the world, i.e., natural science, and the like, but cannot give it meaning. Language cannot communicate that which is higher, it cannot communicate transcendence. For Wittgenstein, Transcendence is real. He places the subjects of aesthetics and ethics in this realm. Like Jaspers' empirical talk, Wittgenstein believes that the limits of language are the limits of one's objective world. Because of the nature of empirical talk, it can only provide a demarcated segment of immanent reality. Wittgenstein and Jaspers both hold that there are things that our language cannot express. According to Wittgenstein,
There are, indeed, things that cannot be put into words. They make themselves manifest. They are what is mystical.
This leads Wittgenstein to adopt the position of silence. In this curious closing passage of the Tractatus Wittgenstein says,
My propositions serve as elucidations in the following way: anyone who understands me eventually recognizes them as nonsensical, when he has used them-as steps-to climb up beyond them. (He must, so to speak, throw away the ladder after he has climbed up it.) He must transcend these propositions, and then he will see the world aright. What we cannot speak about we must pass over in silence.
This, for Jaspers, would be perfectly acceptable for man in the finite modes of Existence, Consciousness-as-such, and Spirit, but not in the transcending mode of Existenz. While Wittgenstein says that we must remain silent, Jaspers proclaims that we must not. According to Jaspers, we must engage one another at the limits in communication through language. Only in this way can the meaning and truth of transcendence become a possibility. For man, in the mode of Existenz, the limit of empirical talk is deeply unsatisfying due to his awareness of the incompleteness of his objective cognition. This dissatisfaction urges him to engage and explore the limits in thought and in communication. Jaspers proposes the language of ciphers as a means of exploring these limits.
Cipher & Symbol
Man, as Existenz, seeks in his communication to express the transcendental characteristics of himself and the world that is always more than the objective facts. Because the authentic reality of Transcendence, the Encompassing of all Encompassing, is not an object of cognition, it cannot be grasped in empirical talk. Transcendence as such cannot be "grasped" at all. Nevertheless, the language of ciphers may point to or precipitate the experience of the ever elusive reality of Transcendence. Ciphers, for Jaspers, are neither wholly objective, nor wholly subjective. They have the characteristic of incorporating the two. According to Jaspers,
Ciphers are like a language of Transcendence, which nonetheless reaches us from here as a language created by ourselves. Ciphers are objective: in them something is heard that comes to meet man. Ciphers are subjective: man creates them by his way of apprehending, his way of thinking, his powers of conception. In the subject-object dichotomy ciphers are subjective and objective at once.
Because it is man to whom the cipher speaks, we may say it is subjective, i.e., an individual response to Transcendence. Because man occurs in a historical context in the world, the cipher speaks through those things objectively at hand for him, making it objective. The subjective and objective characteristics of the cipher depend upon one another for their meaning, alone they would be mere imagination, on the one hand, and mere symbol on the other. In the cipher, the subject-object dichotomy is resolved in such a way that "Being becomes present in the whole." Ciphers, as the language of Transcendence, point beyond themselves to the ground of all things. Ciphers are not symbols of Transcendence. A symbol, in contrast to cipher, generally refers to some-thing whether it be an object in the world or a quasi-empirical object of faith, while Transcendence is some-thing which is no-thing at all. According to Jaspers,
The Encompassing of the world can be touched only by transcending; It is impossible, therefore to transform the positive notions about the Encompassing of the world (which can be allegories and ways of illumination) into objects for the formation of hypotheses whose purpose is understanding the world...What is touched by transcending cannot be determined by an object or derived from another. This is the place of symbol and myth... I do not cognize the Encompassing of the world through these images; however, they do furnish the substantial background of all cognition.
Transcendence must remain free least it be relegated to another object in the world:
Transcendence is no longer Transcendence when captured in images. We understand its language only as ciphers. It itself is beyond all ciphers. That is the truth of philosophizing.
Anything, including a symbol, may become a cipher, though it does not do so by capturing any essential quality of transcendent reality. When its meaning becomes fixed, it dies. According to Jaspers,
As soon as they [ciphers] become definite images, fixed signs, and thereby, things in the world, we again move them to a beach, a beach of false corporalities, of mere images.
Its death need not be final. One may, through actively engaging the symbol from within, resurrect its significance for one's self. Dr. Eugene Long characterized this possibility as follows:
When the symbol becomes a cipher, I grasp reality in it. But when it is merely an object with a fixed meaning, essential reality is lost. In this state the symbol is said to collapse into a sign, a signification, or a metaphor. These fallen symbols may be arranged according to multiple points of view and may be understood to make up the world of potential ciphers. But they are said to have the same relation to their origin that bones have to a dead body. Once one begins to talk about symbols in a detached way, the symbol dies. It is only when one proceeds from the symbol within the symbol that one reaches essential reality. Detached talk about the symbol may be understood as preparation for the reading of the symbol as cipher, but can never be equated with the cipher itself.
Transcendence is always hidden, as it were, in plain sight. If by cipher, Transcendence is communicated to me, and Jaspers is clear that this is possible, it is only through my experience of Transcendence and not in the transference of Transcendence via cipher to me from another:
I do not yet penetrate cipher script by insight gained through research, by collecting and rational appropriation; rather, I do so only with this material through the movements of existential life.
Because this experience occurs historically in the world, any effort to communicate the experience of transcendence will naturally fail. Jaspers says,
Since it is impossible for man to have Transcendence in time as a knowable object, identical for everyone like something in the world, every mode of the One Truth as absolute in the world can, in fact, only be historical: unconditional for this Existenz but, precisely for this reason,not universally valid.
The communication of transcendence would draw it back into the modes of the encompassing where it would be misunderstood. The truth of the language of ciphers is not what is said, but in the experience which is essentially unutterable. According to Jaspers,
The cipher is listened to, not cognized. All talk about it, so unavoidable because the cipher only steps forth more clearly in communication, is already mistaken in its roots. For this reason the character of the cipher is only encircled, but not reached if, in metaphor, we call it speech.
IV. Reason, Catholicity & the Truth of Transcendence
Having characterized the way in which we communicate, we are in a position to appraise what we say. In our communication, as in our experience of ourselves and the world, we run against the limits of what can be objectively accounted for. There is always more than what can be objectively expressed due to the fact the we are both encompassing and encompassed. Often we find that our truth does not always coincide with the truth of another in general communication, i.e., empirical and symbolic forms of language. We don't see things the same way. We don't say things the same way. We crave certainty and when our words, symbols and expressions do not coincide in communication, the possibility of uncertainty looms before us. Assurance is only possible through an objective knowledge of the whole:
If I know the whole, I possess, as it were, a pre-knowledge that cancels out danger as long as I obey the laws imposed on me out of my knowledge of the whole.
Because the unity of the world can only be grasped in the appearance of history, in the cipher of the One and not the One itself, men tend to adopt one of two postures. The first position states that one's understanding of the One is a personal, non-universal, historic realization. The second states that the One is a timeless universal truth accessible to man, realized in time and authoritatively binding for all men. The first position Jaspers calls Reason, the second Catholicity. He believes that we must choose between them. We will characterize these positions below with a view to Jaspers' understanding of the meaning and truth of Transcendence.
Reason, for Jaspers, is the unlimited openness for truth. It is the "primal source of the unceasing drive towards unity." Because we are limited by time, our understanding of our reality is fragmented. There is, however, a deep seated desire in us to bring this fragmented reality to order. Reason, in this sense, is the "living manifestation" of the human impulse towards oneness over and against this fragmentation. Reason illuminates and binds our understanding of ourselves and the world by actively seeking unity where there is disjunction. The method of reason is transcending in thought. The ultimate intention or goal of this method is the one Being which encompasses all particulars and eradicates the subject-object dichotomy. Being, as such, cannot be cognized. If it were, it would become a mere object among objects, an object perceived by a subject. Being itself, as the goal of transcendent thinking, is an unobtainable ideal because we can only think things. Reason has no content of its own. "Reason," say Jaspers, "is the bond of all the modes of Encompassing and all of their configurations." As such, it is dependent on the modes of Encompassing for its content. It is only when we reach the limits of objective thought in thinking transcendence that the meaning and truth of Transcendence shows itself. For Jaspers,
Transcending is possible only when limits are realized which are not simply temporary, or which are not simply acknowledged as matters of fact, or which are not obscured by facile gnostic speculation resulting in a supposed knowledge bridging such limits, but are limits which are realized in principle, limits which designate the unbridgeable gaps in the continuity of determinate being, and, furthermore, where there is a directedness toward the oneness of Being which tolerates no gaps, dismemberment or miscellaneous plurality.
It is here that rational thinking is activated and seek expression and realization in historic thought, speech and activity. Reason, sustained by man in his authenticity, is manifest as "total will to communication." Reason, as the drive that urges us to seek unity in transcendent thinking, also propels us to open and genuine communication. In genuine communication, Jaspers holds that we may participate in realizing the truth of Transcendence through exploring the limits of what can be objectively thought, and by extension, what can be objectively said. According to Jaspers,
In talking to one another, truth is achieved through communication. It is in communication that truth is to become manifest.
What we can say about what we encounter in the world and our understanding of it depends intimately upon the kind of being doing the saying and the nature of that about which he speaks. Communication, as Jaspers understands it, is a genuine reflection of the kind of being that we are and the Being that we encounter. Communication, like the Encompassing-that-we-are and the Encompassing-that-is-Being-itself, share in the characteristics of immanence and transcendence. For Jaspers, immanence is a crucial component in understanding ourselves and our world. We could not speak without the content of our empirical existence. True communication is not "other worldly." It has its basis in our life and our experience of the world which is always more than a configuration of mere facts. These facts, according to Jaspers, issue forth from and find meaning in Transcendence. The truths sought in communication, if they are to be a reflection of our reality as beings both encompassing and encompassed, must consider the dual nature of immanence and transcendence in ourselves and the world. Without this consideration, according to Jaspers, communication fails and the possibility of truth is lost. In communication we find truth with the other in a "loving struggle." The meaning and truth of Transcendence can only manifest itself, in Jaspers' view, if neither of the parties involved claims exclusive possession of the truth in its entirety. In reason, as the total will to communication, there remains the knowledge about the multiplicity, the consequences of which is the unconditionality not only of one's own historicity but also of the historicity of the other person.
The unity of the world can only be grasped in the appearance of historicity, in the cipher of the One and not the One itself. In the loving struggle of communication, we realize that we cannot demarcate the transcendental qualities of ourselves and the world. We come to understand by exploring the limits of what can be thought and what can be said that the truth contained in something definite is always a particular truth and always a movement towards the truth of Transcendence. Truth, as such, is a step forward and never a completion. Reason as communication never reaches completion, but rather, like man and what he encounters, is always more.
Catholicity is characterized by Jaspers as "those institutions, modes of behavior, practical rules which seek to bring about and hold fast for an unlimited time to the universal oneness of human community based on faith in a catholic authority." The catholic method, as a rational system, holds that everything that is possible has its place within the whole. Nothing is outside. It is inclusive insofar as it absorbs new insights into the whole, but without rupturing the old infrastructure. Exclusion is only practiced against those thoughts, words and ideas which threaten its totality: "There is truth in everything if only it is understood properly." Facts about world-being are absolute. Symbols become rigid, stiff, and dead. The rational becomes a corpse in the graveyard of the whole. These "truth packages" are passed about from the haves to the have-nots. The encompassing nature of man and Being are closed off and the transcendental always-more at the limits of cognition are ignored, over looked, or silenced. Here the individual is kept in check by the "center of catholic power and decision." The preservation of catholic wholeness and authority is its own function in the public and private sphere. According to Jaspers, the authority characteristic of catholicity is a false authority which closes off communication and, hence, closes off the possibility for truth. In addition, it inhibits one's freedom whether in thought or in action. Ehrlich noted that, for Jaspers,
Transcendence is the ground of the free man [as Existenz] insofar as, being free, he in independent of the world, and being finite, cannot be the source of his own being.
For Jaspers, any objectification of Transcendence is necessarily flawed and carries with it the seeds of totalitarianism whether it be intellectual, spiritual or political in nature. History is full of examples which illustrate this fact. According to Jaspers,
The mistake of rationally distorting the essence of Being into mere objects and purposes seem to be a fundamental trait of our human existence, from the very beginning of human thought. It was made when symbolic reality first turned into the purposive practice of magic, when community became society, when the being of the soul gave way to a having of things. It is the transformation of what originally possessed us into a possession of ours, of encompassing experience into particular knowledge, of living accomplishments into a product, of the source of fulfilling creation into a purpose, of the foreboding present into a promise for the future, of intuitive knowledge into a knowing of objects. This error is inevitable. We cannot avoid it; we must go through it, always surmount it anew.
The catholic position, according to Jaspers, stands over and against the impulse toward unrestricted authentic communication. While the tone of Jaspers' characterization of catholicity in Von der Wahrheit is harsh in its tone, this passage reminds us that it is a tendency present in all of us. Many who have adopted the catholic position did not and do not intend to bind others with their dogma. Their intentions may be genuine. However, as we run against the limits of language and thought, it becomes clear that this position is dangerous not only to truth, but may also ignite the fire of conflict. It is a position we must resist and surmount in our quest for the meaning and truth of Transcendence. Although reason and catholicity are, for Jaspers, each other's antithesis, they share in the characteristic of their faith in the One Truth. For catholicity, this truth is grounded in the historical revelations, symbols and their universal, binding authority. Truth, in this view, is thought to be realized by man in its totality in time. It is universal, unchangeable, and unquestionable. For reason, on the other hand, the one truth is grounded in Transcendence which appears in history and time, but is never exhausted for this very reason: Transcendence transcends time and history. Transcendence, as the one truth, is always my truth and not Transcendence itself. It is not the One truth, only an existential movement towards it. It must be understood that this is not a direct attack on the symbols and language of the catholic institution, only the insistence that the language and symbols of catholicity cannot capture Transcendence. Man, in his finitude, cannot quantify transcendent quality without, as it were, transcending Transcendence to do it. This, of course, is impossible.
V. Philosophical Faith and the Possibility of Religious Truth
Having explored various aspects of Jaspers' thought, we may now return to our original question, armed with conceptual and linguistic tools of Jaspers' understanding of man, world and Transcendence. In this section we will apply Jaspers' philosophical method to the question of religious truth. In the first section, we noted a division beginning in the 13th century between philosophy and the teachings and dogmas espoused by the church and how this tension has continued to our present time. We also noted the dramatic effect of the technological advances of this century which have brought about an ever-shrinking world and the emergence of a global, multicultural society where we are no longer isolated from non-Christian religious traditions. We observed that these two events have placed philosophy and religion, in many instances, in conflict as well as intensified the conflict between the various religious traditions. It has also been pointed out that these differences are not casual and inconsequential differences, but are matters of life and death- of heaven or hell- to be solved in verbal or literal combat arenas, for those who see themselves as "true believers." Jaspers' has explicitly addressed the disjunction between philosophy and religion but has said little of the dissension between the different religious sects. The cleavage between philosophy and religion is address in Jaspers' exposition of the positions of philosophical and religious faith. These positions are based on and are a continuance of the notions of reason and catholicity which, in turn, are rooted in Jaspers' understanding of man, world and Transcendence. Philosophical and religious faith, as in the positions of reason and catholicity, share the characteristic of holding there to be a unity of truth. Both base their belief on an authority and both believe that there is truth. However, the way in which these similarities are expressed in their respective forms of faith are dramatically different and are based on premises that diametrically oppose one another. In this section we will address the question of religious truth by contrasting religious and philosophical faith and then showing to what extent Jaspers' position of philosophical faith can serve as a model for interfaith dialogue which allows for the possibility for religious truth via communication.
Philosophical and Religious Faith
Following a lecture on metaphysics given by Jaspers in 1928, he was approached by a young Catholic priest who thanked him for his presentation and remarked that what Jaspers was doing in his philosophy, he would regard as theology. In his memoirs, Jaspers commented on this event as follows:
I was quite put out by these words from an intelligent an impressive young man. Obviously I was speaking of things which other people looked upon as theology, but instead of speaking as a theologian I was philosophizing. This had to be made clear.
While philosophical faith is concerned with and influenced by the concerns of theology and religion, it is, for Jaspers, something entirely separate. For this reason much of Jaspers' explication of the position of philosophical faith is in terms of what it is not and how it is different from religious faith. Philosophical faith has no fixed credo, no dogma, is not firmly grounded in anything objective or finite, is not anchored in universal thought, et cetera. Of the positive principles of philosophical faith, which will be discussed below, Jaspers says,
I follow them not because I accept a dogma in obedience to an authority but because by my very nature I cannot elude their truth.
The differences between religious and philosophical faith, however, are not, for Jaspers, points of contention or distaste for things religious. According to Jaspers,
Religion is no enemy of philosophy, but something that essentially concerns it and troubles it.
Philosophical faith has its origins in a different, independent source which is unrecognized by and unrelated to religion. For Jaspers, philosophy is an active disposition, a foundation on which one's life is built which
cannot be imposed on anyone, cannot be called universally valid, but will manifest itself to all who are born for it and pursue it in a pure spirit.
This foundation is realized and developed in philosophical inquiry and activity. Here one realizes the immanent and transcendent qualities of one's self and the world as well as the limits of human cognition in the ever elusive, always-more of Transcendence. Negatively, philosophical faith is aware of the limits of human cognition and realizes that the meaning and truth of Transcendence cannot be held as an object of thought. It knows that the unity for which it labors can never be realized in time. Positively, it is aware that it is by exploring and actively engaging the limits of human understanding, the processional, non-static truth of one's self and one's relationship to the world and Transcendence becomes elucidated. This elucidation is authoritative for that individual, though this elucidation is neither final for that individual nor authoritatively binding for any other. It is an individual existential realization, not a factual discovery. Because of this, philosophical faith must remain open to the faith of the other. Religious faith in its Catholic form, in contrast, is grounded in the authority of revealed faith, in the symbols and language of the faith and in the word of God. The authority of religious faith, like the authority of catholicity, maintains that its truth is universally valid and binding for all men. This authority is maintained and defended by the "guardians of the faith," the preachers, pastors, popes, prophets, rabbis, ministers, theologians, and the like, who are often considered by themselves and others to be God's representatives on earth. When one challenges or philosophically engages the content of religious faith as embodied in the sacred writings or as explicated by the guardians of the faith, one challenges, in the view of religious faith, God Himself. The truth of religious faith is closed and, for this reason, is preached to the world by those who have the truth to those who do not. While the finitude of man are acknowledged in this view- God's thoughts are not man's thoughts, God's ways are not man's ways- the professed infinite nature of God is reduced to a finite set of religious formulations which are learned, repeated and adhered to. In contrast to this, Jaspers says,
[R]evelation that is communicated as such, must have a mundane form. Once it is stated, it deteriorates into finiteness, and even into trivial rationality. In speech, its meaning is perverted.
When our understanding of God- as a cipher of Transcendence- is closed, we become closed. We no longer participate in and identify with Transcendence, but rather become worshipers of fixed entities. We hold the images, words and symbols of the Deity to be absolute, complete, perfect and holy. Because of this, contradictions against the contents of faith cannot be tolerated. It is, in many instances, confrontational and closed. Any new scientific or philosophical "discovery" must either be made to fit within the dogma of the faith, or must be banned, barred or condemned. The individual who is a proponent of false doctrines, that is, doctrines that fall outside of the accepted perimeters of religious truth, must recant, accept the truth or remain an outsider at best, a heretic at worse. This understanding of truth, for Jaspers, is misguided. According to Jaspers,
Formulable faith contents must not be treated like universally true propositions; the absolute awareness of truth in faith is something fundamentally different from the comprehension of the universal validity of scientifically true propositions, which are always particular. Historical absoluteness does not carry with it the universal validity of its manifestations in word, dogma, cult, ritual, institutions. It is the confusion of the two that make it possible to claim exclusivity for a religious truth.
Because of its exclusive nature, religious faith, as we have characterized it, stands over and against genuine communication and, hence, against truth. For Jaspers, it is in the loving struggle of communication that truth becomes a possibility. "The movement of communication," says Jaspers, "is at one and the same time the preservation of, and the search for, the truth." Philosophical faith is tolerant of the truth of the other and, for this reason, is open to communication. This tolerance is grounded in the finitude of human consciousness and the infinite nature of Transcendence and stands in contrast to any exclusivistic formulation of truth in time. According to Ehrlich,
For Jaspers, true tolerance necessarily means abstaining from identifying the one truth which is absolute for me with the one truth which is absolutely absolute, and hence, it is an abstention from requiring that what is true for me be binding on all.
True tolerance is active rather than passive. Genuine toleration should not be confused with indifference, refusal to engage the other in the struggle of communication, or a silent toleration. All of the alternatives fail to affirm the historicity of truth which is the mark of genuine tolerance. According to Jaspers,
[C]ommunication requires listening and real answers, forbids silence or the evasion of questions; it demands above all that all statements of faith (which are after all made in human language and directed towards objects, and which constitute an attempt to get one's bearings in the world) should continue to be questioned and tested, not only outwardly, but inwardly as well.
In addition to taking the truth of the other seriously in communication, philosophical faith, as a manifestation of the impulse of reason, requires that we continuously engage and challenge our own truth which can never be fully realized. We have noted above that we are always more than our knowledge. This is manifest in the immanent and transcendent modes of the encompassing that we are. What we do know confronts an encompassing unknown. The world is always my world, a world perceived and conceived in time. Transcendence, as the encompassing of all encompassing, manifest itself at the limits of cognition. Because of this, the world and our understanding of it is a mystery and we, as it were, are a mystery unto ourselves. Knowing this, we must still continuously strive for more clues or fall into the slumber and rigidity of an existential death where truth, as the mystery of Transcendence realized in the loving struggle of communication, is forever lost. In being for communication, philosophical faith is necessarily against exclusivity which is manifest in religious faith and catholicity in all of its forms. According to Jaspers,
Exclusivism must fall so that the appearance of faith may come to be true to its essence- so that the struggle of the ciphers may be pure, tolerant, candid, and free from the constant admixture of worldly concerns.
"I do not understand," says Jaspers, "how anyone can maintain an attitude of neutrality towards the claim of the claim of exclusivity." From the point of view of philosophical faith, exclusivity is an enemy of truth. From the point of view of human history and experience, it is an enemy of freedom. Jaspers believes that "the claim to world domination is a consequence of the claim to exclusive truth." This bondage may be physical, as in the case of totalitarian governments or it may be intellectual, as in the case of ideological or religious totalitarianism. According to Jaspers, nowhere is the whole, full, pure truth- because it cannot exist in any sentence of human speech or in any living human figure. Man, in his finitude, has neither the capacity nor the vantage point to claim exclusive possession of the totality of truth. Because of this, he is always in process, continually realizing his truth in time. The claim of exclusivity does not have its origin in human experience, but is a mistake which rationally distorts the essence of Transcendence into an objective fact to be had. According to Jaspers,
I may not hold anything on earth to be universally valid and absolute, even though my historic involvement in it is absolute.
Even the most glorious and inspiring religious tradition is bound to time and owns no truth which is valid under all circumstances. Truth, insofar as it is historically bound, is not an authority, but is rather a manifestation of the struggle characteristic of man at the limits of human cognition. For this reason, as well as those cited above, exclusive claims to the truth must be avoided, confronted and ultimately rejected. For philosophical faith, there is truth in the many religious traditions, including the Biblical tradition. "The Bible," says Jaspers,
is as rich as life. It does not document one faith; it is an arena in which possibilities of faith vie with each other for the depth of the divine.
The rejection of exclusivism is not, for Jaspers, a rejection of the various forms of faith. "The soul of the thoughtful man," says Jaspers, "cannot remain closed to the depth of truth emanating from sources." According to Jaspers, one may, by engaging the contents of religious faith, "let the truth be revealed to him as it is uttered through tradition" and make it his own. A truth by which one lives can only be absolutely valid only if one becomes identical with it. This notion of absolute validity for the individual stands in contrast to the notion of a provable, universally valid truth which stands without and is not identical with the individual. All beliefs held to be universally valid depend on finite premises and finite methods of attaining knowledge of the finite. "It would be unfit to die," says Jaspers, "for a truth susceptible to proof." Herein lies the difference. Because all faith is historical, its truth is not found in the articles, teachings and dogmas of faith, but rather in the "primal source" of Transcendence that is manifest historically in various forms and engaged by the individual. Another important positive characteristic of philosophical faith is the position that God is. The "nearby God," as manifest in its linguistic and symbolic forms, is indispensable for communication, but exist only in ciphers. Philosophical faith, however, takes serious the Biblical adage that forbids idolatry: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven images or likenesses. Philosophical faith, according to Jaspers,
liberates us from concrete, superstitiously fixed gods and revelations; it liberates us from all exclusivities, all fanaticisms, all acts of violence that lie hidden in the faith in a God who shows himself in space and time.
God, as the cipher of Transcendence, by its very nature, resists all objective formulations and images, though it is through these formulations that we communicate. It is in the realization of the essentially unsayable notion of Transcendence that we become free for communication. We cease to be bound by the objective forms that keep us from realizing the meaning and truth of Transcendence. We may, with this realization, truly engage the contents of revealed faith and struggle with it in our never ending quest for truth. In so doing, we do not deny our tradition or the tradition of others, but rather change our approach. We give up the embodiment of God and Transcendence and replace these idols, these fixed images, with the ciphers of Transcendence. By so doing, we may replace the universal and exclusive credos of religious faith with the "empyrean of ciphers, with their many meanings." According to Jaspers,
No rational system can capture the ciphers, no dialectical order can encompass their conflicts. But philosophizing, the matrix of ciphers, can express our existential relation to them.
It is only as ciphers, that the contents of religious faith can, "as the historic voices of the distant God," stay potentially true.
Religious Faith vs. Religious Faith
The conflict between differing religious faiths essentially mirrors the historical conflict between philosophy and religion- a conflict grounded in exclusivism and lack of genuine communication. At this point the question is raised as to what extent Jaspers' position of philosophical faith can serve as a model for interfaith dialogue, tolerance and a position of open religious pluralism which allows for the possibility for religious truth via communication. Philosophy, for Jaspers, is outside of religion much in the same way that one religious faith is outside of another. While there is little or no chance of consensus on doctrinal matters between these groups, there is the possibility of genuine and concerned communication rooted in our common existential and historical condition. There can be no communication where there is perfect consensus and there can be no truth, as we understand it, where there is no communication. In the contradictions of the practices, beliefs and understandings of our world, lie the possibility of truth in the loving struggle of communication. According to Jaspers,
Opposing forces always constitute a polar whole, through which the truth manifests itself. Dialectic contradictions constitute a movement of thought, through which the truth that is not accessible to direct statement speaks.
The contradictions between different faiths, in this view, should not be resisted, but rather, engaged. Religious language, symbol, or ideology may precipitate an individual response, but it is not because of what it says, but what it shows. What it says can refer to nothing, for Transcendence, as the existential ground of all men, cannot be quantified, but shows the limits of trying to bring the experience back into the finitude of our essentially empirical way of talking. While Jaspers does not directly concern himself with religious conflict as such, he is mindful of the possibilities of his position for the religiously inclined. Jaspers says,
Perhaps our thinking can even be helpful to individuals who feel originally stirred and look to the church for clarity...
While religion and the language and symbols that accompany it are historical and social in nature, one's encounter with Transcendence at the limits of human cognition is essentially individual. The historical and social context gives distinct content to one's mode and mean of expression. It "dresses," as it were, the underlaying possibility of Transcendence in the garb which corresponds to the temporal form of faith. These forms can become true for that individual, though not through any external, authoritative force and not for the whole of mankind. Because all faith is historical, its truth is not found in the symbols, rituals, teachings and dogmas of faith, but rather in the primal source of Transcendence that is manifest historically in various forms. In interfaith dialogue, it is when we reach this primal source, the limits of our language, that we realize the always-more of Transcendence as the source from which our faith has its origin and, ultimately, its annihilation. The historical garment of faith is rend and, for that moment, truth becomes an existential possibility. As a philosophy of transcending thinking which explores the limits of human cognition and his finitude in the world, Jaspers' notion of philosophical faith offers a strong model for how the religious might encounter one another. Nevertheless, philosophical faith, as a philosophical position,
looks on all formulated and written philosophy [including its own] only as preparation or recollection, only as inspiration or confirmation. Hence, no meaningful philosophy can be a self contained conceptional system. The conceptual structure is never more than half, and attains to truth only if, in addition to being conceived, is embodied in the thinker's own historical existence.
The Possibility of Religious Truth in Communication
When two faiths meet each other in dialogue, they are faced with a choice. On the one hand they may choose a loving struggle with the other and, on the other hand, they may choose a conflictual struggle. In Jaspers understanding of man in his existential and historical condition, only the former has the possibility of rendering transparent the meaning and truth of Transcendence. When the parameters of faith prevent new questions from being raised, communication breaks down, adversarial relations are born and the possibility of truth is lost. Communication requires the participants to argue their position in a loving struggle, though, if this exchange is to be fruitful, they must be taken with the understanding that the many ciphers of Transcendence cannot be exhausted. Is there a possibility, in Jaspers' view, for religious truth? Yes. Though the truth lays not in the content of faith, but in the struggle of faith via communication. While the position of philosophical faith, as an embodiment of the spirit of Jaspers' philosophy leaves us with nothing in and of itself- being a method and not a dogma- it does furnish us with an acquired, sophisticated ignorance, grounded in the always-more of Transcendence, which leaves individual possibility and freedom open. Jaspers' method could potentially provide a bridge between conflicting religious ideologies and the language and symbols which vehicle them through the exploration of the limits of human cognition and our existential condition, though one fears that most prefer the cleavage.
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1 Plato, Apology, The Collected Dialogues of Plato, ed. Edith Hamilton & Huntington Cairns (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1989) 24c.
2 For example, Logical Positivism, Reformed Epistemology, et cetera.
3 Bishop Etienne Tempier, Condemnations of 1277, Medieval Political Philosophy: A Sourcebook, ed., Ralph Lerner & Muhsin Madhi (New York: The Free Press of Glencoe, 1963) 337.
4 Pope John Paul II. Fides et Ratio, Origins, Vol. 28: No 19 (Washington, DC: CNS Documentary Service, October 28, 1998) 331.
5 Hannah Arendt, Karl Jaspers: Citizen of the World, The Philosophy of Karl Jaspers, ed. Paul Arthur Schlipp (La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing Company, 1981) 540.
6 Hal W. French, A Study of Religious Fanaticism and Responses to It: Adversary Identity (New York: The Edwin Mellen Press, 1990) 1.
7 Soren Holm, Jaspers' Philosophy of Religion. The Philosophy of Karl Jaspers, ed. Paul Arthur Schlipp (La Salle, IL: Open Court Publishing Company, 1981) 667.
8 Edith Ehrlich, Leonard H. Ehrlich, & George Pepper, introduction, Karl Jaspers: Basic Philosophical Writings (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1986) 21.
9 Karl Jaspers, The Perennial Scope of Philosophy trans. Ralph Manheim (New York: Philosophical Library, 1949) 148.
10 Jaspers, Perennial 149.
11 Jaspers, Perennial 148.
12 Karl Jaspers, Philosophical Faith and Revelation, trans. E.B. Ashton (New York: Harper and Row Publishers, 1967) 61.
13 Young-Bruehl, Freedom and Karl Jaspers's Philosophy (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1981) 9.
14 Karl Jaspers, Karl Jaspers: Basic Philosophical Writings (Hereafter, VDW), ed. & trans. Edith Ehrlich, Leonard H. Ehrlich, & George Pepper (New Jersey: Humanities Press, 1986) 26. All citations to this work in this papers are from Ehrlich, Ehrlich and Peppers's selections and translation of Von der Wahreit. This is the most comprehensive translation of this work available. The book, in its totality, has yet to be translated into English.
15 Holm, Jaspers' Philosophy of Religion 670.
16 Jaspers, VDW 139.
18 See Jaspers, VDW 138.
19 "Existenz" is left untranslated.
20 Oswald O. Schrag, Existence, Existenz, and Transcendence (Pittsburgh: Duquesne Press, 1971) 41.
21 Jaspers, Philosophical Faith 63.
22 Jaspers, VDW 143.
23 Schrag, Existence 55.
24 Schrag, Existence 55-56.
25 Schrag Existence 56.
26 Jaspers, VDW 148.
27 Jaspers, VDW 149.
28 Jaspers, VDW 149-150.
29 Jaspers, Philosophical Faith 64.
30 Jaspers, VDW 153.
31 Jaspers, Philosophical Faith 64.
32 Jaspers, VDW 154.
35 Jaspers, Philosophical Faith 66.
36 Jaspers, Philosophical Faith 65.
37 Jaspers, VDW 159.
38 Jaspers, VDW 160.
41 Olson, Alan M. Transcendence and Hermeneutics (Boston: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 1979) 10. See also Jaspers VDW, 160.
42 See Jaspers, VDW 154.
43 See Jaspers, VDW 160.
44 Jaspers, VDW 174.
45 Schrag, Existence 191-192.
46 See discussion above.
47 Jaspers, VDW 174.
48 Jaspers, VDW 175.
49 Schrag, Existence 200. See Jaspers, VDW 175-177.
50 See Jaspers, VDW 174.
51 See Jaspers, VDW 176.
52 Schrag, Existence 131.
53 Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus, trans. D.F. Pears & B.F. McGennis (New Jersey: Humanities Press International, 1988) Proposition 6.42.
58 Karl Jaspers, Philosophy is for Everyman, trans. R.F.C. Hull & Grete Wels (London: Hutchinson of London, 1969) 93-94.
59 Karl Jaspers, Truth and Symbol, trans. Jean T. Wilde, William Kluback and William Kimmel (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1959) 35.
60 Jaspers, VDW 165.
61 Jaspers, Philosophy is for Everyman 88.
62 Jaspers, Truth and Symbol 39.
63 Jaspers, Truth and Symbol 40-41.
64 Eugene Thomas Long, Jaspers and Bultmann: A Dialogue Between Philosophy and Theology in the Existentialist Tradition (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1968) 82.
65 Karl Jaspers, Philosophy, Vol. III. trans. E.B. Ashton (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971) 132.
66 Jaspers, Reason and Existenz 100.
67 See Jaspers, Philosophical Faith 276-279.
68 See Jaspers, VDW 165; 193.
69 Jaspers, Truth and Symbol 41.
70 Jaspers, VDW 284.
71 Catholicity: Literally, universal and general; comprehensive in sympathies and understanding. According to Jaspers, "[T]he word 'catholic' should not automatically be applied to the Catholic Church. What we are talking about here can be seen everywhere in the world and thus also in the Catholic Church." Jaspers, VDW,footnote 281.
72 Jaspers, VDW 179.
73 Leonard H. Ehrlich, Karl Jaspers: Philosophy as Faith (Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1975)126.
74 Jaspers, VDW 179.
75 Ehrlich, Philosophy as Faith 128.
76 Jaspers, VDW 288.
77 Jaspers, VDW 259.
78 Jaspers, VDW 258.
79 Jaspers, VDW 281.
80 Jaspers, VDW 285.
81 Jaspers, VDW 286.
82 Jaspers' imagery.
83 Jaspers, VDW 287.
84 Ehrlich Philosophy as Faith 2.
85 See Ehrlich Philosophy as Faith 129.
86 Karl Jaspers, Liberty and Authority, Philosophy and the World: Selected Essays and Lectures trans. E.B. Ashton (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1963) 43.
87 Karl Jaspers, Philosophical Memoir. Philosophy and the World trans. E.B. Ashton (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1963) 289.
88 Karl Jaspers, The Way to Wisdom trans. Ralph Manheim (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1954) 85.