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Works, literary estate, correspondence

Oldenburg-born philosopher, psychiatrist and political author Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) has, in relation to his broad international reception, received surprisingly little attention within German Post-War philosophy. Even though the interest in Jaspers’ political and contemporary writings influenced the public sphere during this time, global philosophical research interest was limited to a handful of academics. This situation only noticeably began to change during the early 1980s through multiple international conferences and the bi-annual international Karl Jaspers symposia, which have been held since the year 2000 at Klingenthal Castle (Alsace). A new European generation of academics has discovered their interest in Jaspers. The scope of Karl Jaspers’ thinking, as can be gathered from his printed works, the extensive literary estate and the numerous correspondences, spans psychiatry and metaphysics as well as the philosophy of history, existential philosophy and political questions. In order to be able to bring to light this remarkable interrelation and do it justice, a proposal was developed per suggestion and under participation of the Karl Jaspers-Stiftung Basel for an annotated complete edition of works as well as selections from his literary estate and correspondence. This proposal was granted in November 2011 with a running time of 18 years by the Joint Science Conference (GWK) of the federal and state governments as a component of the program of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities in Lower Saxony.

Since April 2012, the Heidelberg Academy of Sciences and Humanities has been taking care of the project at the locations in Heidelberg and Oldenburg, since 2015 in cooperation with the Goettingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Lower Saxony. While Heidelberg and Basel were the two domains of Jaspers‘ medical and philosophical work, Jaspers’ birthplace Oldenburg was able to make a name for itself due to the extensive celebrations on the occasion of his 125th birthday, where, in the frame of the “Jaspers year 2008”, about 100 Jaspers researchers from all over the world gathered for lectures and workshops. A year later, this commitment resulted in the acquisition of Jaspers’ private library from his last personal assistant Hans Saner as well as the establishment of a Karl Jaspers house in Oldenburg to exhibit the library. The workplace of the Goettingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities, which is occupied by a co-editor of the complete edition (Prof. Dr. Reinhard Schulz) and an editor (Dr. Oliver Immel) is also located in the Jaspers house in Oldenburg. Both are also members of the Institute of Philosophy at Oldenburg University.

With the private library of Karl Jaspers, the Jaspers house has a bountiful source for the clarification of oeuvre-related research questions at its disposal. Because Jaspers, as Hans Saner reported, “read with the pencil”, new insights can be gathered about the life and work of Karl Jaspers and his intellectual journey from psychopathologist to philosopher and political writer by sighting and systematizing marked text passages, under additional consideration of the conserved literary estate and correspondence at the Deutsches Literaturarchiv Marbach (German Literature Archive). As the first sub-project, the volume “Schriften zur Universitätsidee“ was created and annotated in Oldenburg, which comprises the three versions of the “Idee der Universität“ from the years 1923, 1946 and 1961 as well as thirteen essays, lectures and interviews. The volume was published in early 2016 by Schwabe in Basel. In autumn 2014, the editing of the early work “Psychologie der Weltanschauungen“ (1919) had begun, which marks Jaspers’ transition from a psychology of understanding to existential philosophy.

The annotated complete edition, which is to encompass 35 volumes, pursues the goal of creating a definite edition of Karl Jaspers‘ works according to standardized criteria, which explores all relevant texts in their contexts, provides introductory remarks, holistically annotates them and thereby makes them accessible as a systematically connected whole. This complete edition (KJG) will contain texts published by Jaspers himself as well as a concise, thematically broad selection of unedited or only partially edited texts of his literary estate and correspondence.


Prof. Dr. Reinhard Schulz und
Dr. Oliver Immel
Niedersächsische Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen
Forschungsstelle Jaspers-Edition,
Standort Oldenburg
Carl von Ossietzky-Universität Oldenburg
Fakultät IV - Institut für Philosophie
26111 Oldenburg

Prof. Dr. Reinhard Schulz
Tel: 0441 - 7984402

Dr. Oliver Immel
Tel.: 0441- 36142391