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2.29 Karl Jaspers

The philosophy of Karl Jaspers (Oldenburg, Germany, 1883 – Basel, Switzerland, 1969) highlights above all the fact that each of us is a particular, unique, unrepeatable existence. Besides this there is also reason, which guides us to think that there are also equal truths for everyone. Now, if each of us is closed within his unique being, how is it possible to identify universal truths? In other words, Jaspers addresses the problem of the relationship between subjectivism and objectivism. Both seem to lead to dead-ends: subjectivism leads to relativism, that is, leads to say that everything is relative and there are no truths able to impose themselves on the whole world; objectivism establishes that there are universal truths, but the presumption of having understood, identified, leads to oppression, to dictatorship. According to Jaspers there is a way to connect these two perspectives, and it is communication, intended as communicating, that is action that does not stop, never ends; when it stops, the destructiveness of subjectivism or the dictatorship of objectivism would immediately take over. For this reason, communication, in order to make it never stop, must correspond to an experience of failure of the communication itself. In other words, when a person thinks she has understood what the other person has said, she will stop listening, and then the closure, the end of the dialogue, will automatically take over; communication can be kept alive only if we continuously perceive it as unfinished, failed, even impossible. This experience of failure can only be sustained, according to Jaspers, by faith; if communication is necessary, and yet it is also necessary to always keep in mind that communication is in itself impossible, never exhaustive, man comes to discover that his being, as well as consist in communicating, consists in having faith: we can find the strength to communicate only by believing that something of what is said will come to the other; but this cannot be demonstrated, it can only be believed with an act of faith in a possibility of communicating that goes beyond our possibilities of control. From the necessity of this act of faith, Jaspers deduces who God is: God is truth, but truth understood as a continuous becoming; this truth is such to the extent that it is continually achieved as communication. In other words: God is truth because he always communicates; the truth, which is God himself, is to communicate without interruption.

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