Phenomenology Online

A Resource for Phenomenological Inquiry

Karl Jaspers was born 23 February 1883 in Oldenberg in Germany and began his career first as a medical doctor. From 1921 to 1937 he was professor of philosophy at Heidelberg, but was removed by the Nazis, and although reinstated in 1945, he eventually settled in Basel.


Karl Jaspers was generally recognized as a existentialist philosopher, a psychologist and theologian. In many ways, Jaspers linked the philosophical movements of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Jaspers’ role in existentialism is very significant. He coined the term “Existenzphilosophie”– a forerunner of the term existentialism. He derived from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche a sense of philosophy not as a rational inverstigation of the world, but as an individual, private and lived-out struggle. He viewed his philosophy as active, forever changing. This approach compelled Jaspers to protest any attempt to group him with other philosophers