Way to Wisdom: An Introduction to Philosophy by Karl Jaspers
By Karl Jaspers
“An eloquent expression of an exceptional desire that philosophy may well back turn into an task fairly proper not just to the perennial difficulties of lifestyles and demise yet to the weird configurations of such difficulties in our time.”―Julian N. Hartt, Yale Review
“Original, honest, cultivated, and stimulating.”―Philosophy
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History sometimes appears to be a chaos of accidental happenings, an eddying flood. It passes on, from one turmoil, from one catastrophe to the next, with brief intervals of happiness, little islands which it spares for a time, until they too are engulfed. All in allas Max Weber put ita road paved by the devil with demolished values. True, our insight has revealed certain connections, causal relations, such as the effects of technological inventions on working methods, of working methods on social structures, of conquests on ethnic grouping, of military technique on military organization and of military organization on political structure, and so on ad infinitum.
Nevertheless, side by side with biblical religion these philosophers do offer a historical source of possible independence. Acquaintance with them encourages our own striving for independence, perhaps precisely by showing us that man cannot sustain himself in isolation and detachment. This ostensible absolute freedom turns automatically into a new dependence, outwardly on the world, whose recognition is courted, inwardly on unclarified passions. The road of the philosophers of late antiquity offers us no promise.
It is true that the enthusiasm with which every newly awakening man attains freedom and through it a greater sense of openness to the godhead goes hand in hand with enlightenment. But soon enlightenment may become an unwarranted aspiration. For God is not heard unequivocally out of freedom but only in the course of lifelong effort through moments when man is granted what he could never attain by thought. Men cannot always bear the burden of critical nonknowledge in mere readiness to listen at the proper moment.