The One in Philosophical Faith and Religious Tolerance

Kazuko Hara (University of Tokyo)

1. Introduction

In Jaspers’ philosophy, “to philosophize” means that each Existenz transcends, it also means “to believe philosophically”. The transcendent Other is called Transcendence as the One, the Encompassing, and Transcendence as the Encompassing of all the Encompassings. On the one hand, this Transcendence as the One has a place as a mode of the Encompassing in Karl Jaspers’ theory of the Encompassing in his philosophical logic. On the other hand, it is the transcendental Other, including Yahweh, the Christian God, Buddha, etc. from the standpoint of the philosophical faith, as confronting the revealed one. Jaspers thinks that “one world of mankind on the earth”, where one can be tolerant toward other religions or other cultures, becomes possible, when people in various traditions meaningfully meet each other on the common ground for human beings. In this paper, the author attempts to survey how the concept of the One evolved in Jaspers’ philosophy, to consider why Jaspers thinks that one becomes tolerant when he meets the One, and further, to search for the possibility of philosophical faith in our modern age.

2. Philosophical faith. Four premises of the concept

Before beginning my paper, I want to summarize some of the characteristics of Jaspers’ thought which enable the concept of philosophical faith.[1] The first one: to philosophize is to search for Being itself in Jaspers’ philosophy, and is also to believe. Faith is the main theme through Jaspers’ whole philosophy. It is in Reason and Existenz (1935), that the philosophical faith is discussed definitely for the first time. But already in his previous work, in Philosophy (1933) we can find only one sign of the concept, which anticipates that of after Reason and Existenz in content. So we can see that philosophical faith is the main theme from the outset of his philosophy. Main concepts of Jaspers’ philosophy, such as Transcendence and the cipher, which are to come up in Philosophy, are originally deeply related to faith, and the feeling that individual Existenz is gifted by the transcendent Other beyond oneself, or schema of its transcending toward the transcendent Other, which have a same structure with faith in a wider sense. In addition, by taking a glance at the history of philosophy, it is clear that research on Being necessary has to search for the ultimate Being (transcendent Other) which supports the individual Being, and the search for Being can never be separated from the ultimate Being.

The second characteristic of Jaspers’ philosophy is that it has a vision of world citizenship and of world philosophy. In 1937 Jaspers was robbed of his professorship, and the following year he was no longer allowed to publish. His basic experience was the loss of guarantee of judicial rights among his own people. While despairing for Germany and the German, in him at the same time grew the drive toward world citizenship.[2] It was large volumes of documents and translations about China and India, left for Jaspers when Indologist Heinrich Zimmer took refuge in the UK in 1939, that gave new breath to the impulse of his world citizenship. Thanks to this, Jaspers obtained the opportunity to study the Orient.

The results of this research bore fruit after the War as The Origin and Goal of History (1949) and The great Philosophers (1957), through his studies on Buddha, Nagarjuna, Confucius, Laozi, etc. He noticed that the highly advanced human mind worked commonly in the root of East-West thought, and paid attention to human Existence which supports various religions, beyond the dogmatic framework of existing religions such as Christianity, Buddhism, etc. Therefore, Jesus is evaluated from the existential and ethical aspect, not as the Son of God, deified absolutely, but as the paradigmatic individual, “a teacher of a way of life” who is “devoted only to God’s will and the ethos of love”.[3]

The third one is a design of world history. Jaspers’ thought, breaking away from Western-centrism or Christian-centrism, is shown also in a design of world philosophy.[4] He noticed that the same understanding of Being can be seen in Oriental thought as in Western, and that the period in which the subjective ultimate search for Being was done was around the 5th century BC, terming it “the axial period”. He designed the steps of history proceeding from “the one origin of mankind” through the axial period, age of science and technology of the contemporary period, and then the one world of mankind on the earth, where men meet each other. According to Jaspers, the unity of mankind doesn’t consist in unification on the basis of a common faith, in the objectivity of that which is thought or believed to be commonly true, in an organization of the one central truth by an authority that spans the earth. He says, the only unity truly attainable by us humans is the unity through communication of the historically manifold origins, which are mutually concerned with one another, without becoming identical in the manifestation of idea and symbol; it is the unity which leaves the One concealed in manifoldness, the One that can remain true only in the will to boundless communication, as an endless task in the interminable testing of human possibilities.[5] And in this meeting man learns that, however he may be in the particularity, “he is related to all others on the basis of the one thing. Seen thus, the phenomenon of man in the dispersal of history is a movement toward the One.[6] The One is rather remote point of reference, which is origin and goal at one and the same time; it is the One of transcendence.”[7] Just like Kant designed the “Kingdom of Ends”, Jaspers says, this deepest unity is elevated to an invisible religion, to the realm of the spirit, the secret realm of manifestation of being in the concord of souls.[8]

Jaspers designed the unity of mankind as a goal of philosophy, which seems to be, so to speak, a space where men can understand each other beyond the differences of various nations and cultures. And we can say that the groping of the way to achieve this, between philosophical faith and revealed faith which has real social power in the world, was the theme of Philosophical Faith and Revelation (following only Revelation). Jaspers describes, “a thinking that prepares the philosophical ground on which philosophy may be realized by individual self-realization, is a goal of Revelation.”[9]

The fourth characteristic of Jaspers’ metaphysical thought is that the philosophical faith encompasses the revealed one. The concept of philosophical faith evolves to the extensive work Revelation in Jaspers’ later years. That he came to regard his philosophical faith not only as inner searching for Being or as philosophizing by the individual, but also in comparison with the churches, having real social power in history, and the revealed faith, being absolutely protected by the authority of church seems to be the consequence of his notice that it is necessary for the revealed faith to abandon exclusiveness and to be open to the other, so that men can meet each other after such horrible experiences as wars and the Holocaust.[10]

The philosophical faith relation to the revealed one reflects the above-mentioned world philosophical view and a design of world history. This work is titled “in face to [angesichts] Revelation” but philosophical faith, rather than being equal to revealed faith, is, so to speak, a schema or framework of transcendent thinking, to encompass various faiths as Christianity. For example, in the last part of Revelation, Jaspers proposes the following three main points of a possible change toward revealed faith for the chance of a serious common religious life: 1. Jesus, to many believers, is no longer the God-Man, Christ; 2. Revelation turns into a cipher; 3. Dogmatic religious truth ceases to be exclusive. Christian revelation becomes one of the ciphers, Jesus and God are replaced with Transcendence, just as with the Encompassing concept.

3. One common basic knowledge. Evolvement of the One

In this way Jaspers’ philosophy has a wide point of view; in the sense of world citizenship, being open to others, being free from existing values. This is the basic character of the whole of his philosophy, as we can see in the conception of reason, communication, the Encompassing. Philosophical faith consist of these characteristics. However, his proposal of the fourth point was especially criticized by Protestant theologians.[11] Jaspers discusses these three abandonments also in a dialogue between Zahrunt, and confirms that these changes are only a result of the positive that appears by the execution of “conversion, turning back to the origin, seriousness toward Existenz, being open toward the Transcendence.”[12] But it seems difficult to accept these abandonments from the side of faith. As Japanese theologian S. Arai also describes, “Jaspers’ philosophy has a great problem. If his basic intention to gain common ground for various faiths finally comes to the end, where revealed faith is absorbed by philosophical faith, does it really match his intention?”[13] In some dialogues between Jaspers and theologians on “philosophical faith” and “revealed faith” in which we can see something that both sides do not understand well, that discussion remains as far apart as ever, or remains idle. Why does Jaspers criticize the attitude of revealed faith in spite of many criticisms?

In the preface and introduction of Revelation, Jaspers’ basic attitude is clearly shown. First of all, he says, that fewer and fewer people can satisfy their inmost needs in present forms of the ecclesiastically authorized faith in biblical revelation. Those forms will never unite the globe, not even the West. Therefore, today one must seek the ground on which men of every religious persuasion might meaningfully meet around the world, ready to recommit themselves to their own historic traditions, to purify them, but not to abandon them. He says “the only common ground for the diversity of faith would be clear thinking, truthfulness, and a common basic knowledge.”[14] And the sense of our different origin that lies before and beyond any world, but cannot turn into an object in the world, intensifies and illuminates the experience of our responsibility. We come to open our minds to the cause of difference – which, in the sense of anything in the world, we cannot know.[15]

Jaspers’ criticism of revealed faith can be concentrated into two points. 1) Seriousness and existential sincerity which are to say true faith, or the essence of faith, are concealed by not-essential things. 2) Revealed faith has an exclusive character. From his standpoint of world citizenship and world philosophy, described above, Jaspers wants to gain the ground on which men of every religious persuasion might meaningfully meet around the world. What is here sought is clear thinking, truthfulness, and a common basic knowledge, and it is a consequence of the abandonment of exclusiveness, namely, of the religious tolerance, being open to the Other.

4. Transcendent Other in Philosophical faith

Needless to say, this common basic knowledge means philosophy of modes of the Encompassing. “Our different origin that lies before and beyond any world, but cannot turn into an object in the world” is just an another term for “Transcendence” (or the Encompassing), and this transcendent Other is argued as Transcendence[16] or the One[17] in many pages of Philosophy.

As stated above, in the last lecture of Reason and Existenz, where the concept of “philosophical faith” is argued for the first time, the original One, making oneself to be Self, is also expressed as “pure origins”. Here, Jaspers first asks about the possibility of philosophizing today, and says that the truth cannot be understood as a single and unique truth, that philosophy is between revealed faith and atheism, because it is incapable of conviction as revealed faith. Kierkegaard and Nietzsche, the pioneers of existential philosophy, philosophized respectively confronting revealed faith and atheism, because “the philosophizing Existenz is found in its pure origins only insofar as it sees itself confronting another reality which is not true for itself, but only for that other: before revealed religion and before atheism.”[18]

Therefore, Jaspers says, “powerless, the spirit of philosophy emerges out of its ever-present source in the soul only to awaken the soul and let it participate in a truth which has no ‘purpose’ and which neither serves nor opposes any other truth. It is only comparable to the prayer of religion.”[19] In such a way, a man who philosophizes lives in the face of both religion and atheism, and this is “philosophical faith”. Philosophical faith is the fundamental source of that work by which man makes himself in an inner act as an individual before his Transcendence.[20]

Now, the first appearance of the Encompassing is also in Reason and Existenz. Sometimes as early as in Philosophy Jaspers explains that the attempt to catch Being as a whole fails in front of the subject-object split. That seems to be a sprouting of the Encompassing. After Reason and Existenz, where the Encompassing was termed Being itself, comes to be expressed as Transcendence, as the Encompassing, furthermore Transcendence as the Encompassing of all Encompassings, these relations become difficult and complicated. So after tracing the relation between Transcendence and the Encompassing, the author will consider what relation lies between the evolvement of the concept of Being and the appearance of philosophical faith.

4.1. Transcendence before the appearance of the Encompassing

Jaspers shows his basic attitude on the outset of his philosophy in 3 volumes of Philosophy. In the 1st part of volume 1, he says, “to think of being is to make it distinct being.”[21] We only catch the things, as far as these are objectified, known or thought through experience as real in space and time. But Being is beyond recognition, or at least Myself is different from my recognition. For in Me remains the part of which we cannot objectify as self-consciousness in spite of our attempt of objectification, i.e. the “thinking subject” is left behind, unlike other things. So Jaspers says, “When I conceive of this being in the abstract, the way it is independently of its being an object for a subject – that is to say, not as a phenomenon for something else – I call it being in itself.”[22] In other words, Being can be known through objectification, but it is not the whole Being. Though we think we have caught “Being itself”, we can catch only the sum of Being because the thing in itself [an-sich Sebst] which cannot be objectified is not grasped as Being. This thing in itself is hard to grasp, because it is immediately objectified as soon as it is grasped, and we can recognize a Being in which Being and the known Being unify only in one’s self.[23] Furthermore, the original Being which cannot be found in a sense that we might know is to be sought “in its transcendence, to which only Existenz, not consciousness at large, can ever relate.”[24] Also in Philosophy III. Metaphysics we can see the description, if I want to advance to being, I do not get there if I mean all things and thoughts in the sense of objective and being. Being that is to encompass all being is transcendent.[25]

Through the expression above we can see that Jaspers expresses the encompassing Being itself beyond the subject-object split as “Transcendence”. The description in Philosophy reflects the character of existential philosophy in which Being itself starts from the view of the thinking subject, so long as there is less interest in objective things surrounding the self and in the world surrounded. But in Philosophy III we can see that Jaspers regarded Being as that encompassing both the subjective self-being and objective things, and as that to be transcendent. This idea indeed anticipates his later concept of “the Encompassing”.

4.2. Transcendence after the appearance of the Encompassing

In the works after the appearance of Reason and Existenz, the relation between “Transcendence” and “the Encompassing” becomes complicated. First of all, “the Encompassing” is roughly explained in Reason and Existenz as follows: in any case we live and think in the horizon. Also, our recognition or thinking is always enclosed in the horizon, we cannot get a wide perspective, where man can sublate all horizons and take an extensive view on all Being. It is said, when we still search for Being after experiencing that our knowledge and recognition are enclosed by one horizon, we certainly have to think about the thing over all horizons, “the Encompassing”. In other works as Existenz-philosophy (1938) and On Truth (1947), the Encompassing is presented from same point of view of “horizon”.

On the other hand, in the works Introduction to Philosophy (1950), A Small School of Philosophy (1965) and Revelation, the Encompassing is explained from the viewpoint of subject-object split. Like the explanation of “Being itself” in the early years, when by experience Being is beyond objective recognition, we certainly assume something encompassing beyond the subject-object split. Thus, Being itself is explained with the concept of the Encompassing, and then Transcendence with a mode of the Encompassing, namely, a way of Being.

The division of the modes of the Encompassing is not always the same in many works, but in general it is as this chart shows. Here, Transcendence is the transcendent Other for Existenz and is different from Transcendence in Jaspers’ early years, where it is thought as a Being beyond subject and object. By the way, after Reason and Existenz, Transcendence and the Encompassing are seldom argued at the same time, except in On Truth. In Reason and Existenz, where “the Encompassing” appears for the first time, it is described only in several lines, and in other works other than On Truth, in which the Encompassing is mainly argued, the explanation on Transcendence becomes rather passive. In the works in which Transcendence is mainly argued, the modes of the Encompassing are suddenly mentioned but the Encompassing as Being itself is not explained. Then from which point of view is Transcendence mainly argued?

4.3. Transcendence as an object of philosophical faith

The works in which Transcendence is mainly discussed are Philosophical Faith, Ciphers of Transcendence and Revelation, where Transcendence is given the role of an object for philosophical faith. The language of Transcendence is called “cipher” and we can feel the being of Transcendence by reading the ciphers. The ciphers of Transcendence are of course not universally valid, and are read by individual Existenz in each time. Transcendence is the Being, which gives one the feeling that one is gifted, when one becomes the original oneself. Jaspers thinks of Transcendence as the concealed Being, encompassing the Christian God, Buddha, Confucius, etc. Christian theologians criticized this idea.

4.4. Transcendence as the Encompassing of all Encompassings

Moreover, we can find the expression “Transcendence as the Encompassing of all Encompassings” in On Truth and Revelation. The Encompassing is not to be grasped by our recognition because it is beyond all our horizons, and that implies a thinking subject. The Encompassing splits into the modes of the Encompassing as soon as we try to illuminate it, where a different truth has a decisive meaning in each mode of the Encompassing. So Jaspers asks, “Do they have a common base?” And he proceeds, “If so, it lies in Transcendence, the Encompassing of all encompassings.”[26] According to him, only this “the Encompassing of all Encompassings” is “Transcendence” in the original sense, and it originally has only one content. Jaspers created the new concept, “the Encompassing of all Encompassings,” in terms of the author, for keeping Being itself away from splitting into subject and object again by dividing “the Encompassing” into “the modes of the Encompassing”, namely, from keeping Being itself from partiality.

In this way Transcendence is to be classified in four types with the evolvement of Jaspers’ thought. It is mainly expressed as Being itself, where a transcending way to Transcendence by Existenz is searched for. It becomes one mode of the Encompassing, and it is designed as the object for philosophical faith. As the Encompassing of all Encompassings, type one is before the appearance of the Encompassing and the last three ones are after it. After the Encompassing, the description is focused on the Encompassing in the works which mainly deal with Being, and explanation of Transcendence becomes type two. On the other hand, in the works which mainly deal with philosophical faith, the explanation becomes type three.

That Jaspers expressed Being itself only as Transcendence in his early years, and afterward in two ways, as Transcendence and the Encompassing, and also as the Encompassing of all Encompassings, seems to be caused by his intention not only to explain Being itself in some way, which encompasses both oneself and the Other, and both subject and object, but also at the same time to give a role to the transcendent Other, which is the object of philosophical faith.

In Jaspers’ Philosophy the attempt to search for Being evolves dynamically from Dasein, breaking through consciousness as such, spirit, to Existenz, and from Existenz to Transcendence, moreover, from a mode of the Encompassing to the Encompassing of all Encompassings. As it is said, faith in the broadest sense means presence in polarities of subject and object,[27] the fulfillment, being present as one body without losing subject or object in the Encompassing, is to believe philosophically. To philosophize toward Being is to transcend, and also to believe philosophically.

5. The One and religious tolerance

Then why can one become free from exclusivity and be tolerant from the standpoint of philosophical faith when facing the transcendent Other? Firstly, the difference between philosophy and religion, of course, ought to be considered. Needless to say, “philosophical faith” is free from concrete social church organizations and rituals,[28] and easily to keeps pureness in phenomenon, for it belongs to philosophizing, being dispersed in individuals.[29] Secondly, like Jaspers’ thought itself, for he repeatedly says that “the truth is inconclusive [schweben]” and must not be fixed by only one meaning, his philosophy has an encompassing character and refuses exclusiveness and absoluteness.

Against K. Barth’s biting criticism, who said “the slightly arid commandment of tolerance, i.e. of shunning all ‘absolutizing’ – in fact, refraining from all positive statements on its possible contents or directives – seems to be the one comparatively sure thing to be derived from a contemplation of this spectre.”[30] Jaspers mentions tolerance. After retorting that “in politics it is the basis of rights and duties that we, today, are infinitely grateful to live by” and that “it is the most magnificent human victory over the inhuman faith in ecclesiastic dogmas which marked the time of religious wars,” he continues, “inwardly, however, tolerance is the essential expression of the will to communicate. There the mere toleration that has a point and is attainable in politics would been an insult; the essence of this tolerance lies in receptiveness, in concern, in acknowledgement.”[31]

In Jaspers’ philosophy tolerance is indeed essential and its spirit filters into his various main concepts such as communication, reason etc. But tolerance in Jaspers is not relativism, as K. Barth criticizes it. According to Jaspers, the Individual facing Transcendence[32] is outside all comparison, where difference or similarity is measured by not being properly himself. The individual is an absolute Self which does not allow comparison. Comparison of Self with others would not prevent one from falling into relativism, and persistence in Self, or if one forces his own justice on others, will lead to exclusiveness and intolerance. But Jaspers’ thought is free from the claim of exclusiveness as such, for Self as the Encompassing is beyond the subject-object split and absolute, while “difference” comes from understanding of comparison.

A thinking, transcending beyond difference or similarity, beyond boundary seems to be near the attainment of spiritual enlightenment of Zen Buddhism in one respect. Jaspers searches the way to be open to others, keeping his distance from mysticism, particular religions, or science of religion, where religions are scientifically analyzed.

6. The theory of religious tolerance and “philosophical faith”

What is the character of Jaspers’ thought on tolerance in comparison with other thinkers? In the latter half of the 20th century, globalization advanced rapidly and as far as religion is concerned, secularization, weakening of existing religions, privatization of religion, arguments for religious tolerance advanced. In 1948, the year Philosophical faith was published, The World Council of Churches was established, and in 1962, an extensive work Revelation was published, the Second Vatican Congress was held and afterward especially ecumenical exercise became popular.

That the trend of people moving away from existing religions and churches progressed and that individual became a religious homeless, made one able to choose one’s religious life. The thought of philosophical faith, Jaspers proposed, provided sincere and existential thinking for people who were thrown out of the framework of existing religions and lost any support, religious homeland, and were given an opportunity to think about religion and faith at the same time.

In this period, besides the change of the religious phenomenon, religious studies were to analyze religions in objective and scientific ways, and theological trend was to deal with religion from the relative point of view. In theological discussions, necessity of the unity of churches, or of dialogues among foreign religions was demanded. The rise of religious pluralism, being against Christian insistence of absoluteness, and against intolerant attitudes, objected to the claim of exclusiveness from the standpoint of relativism.[33] We can see the commonness to Jaspers’ philosophical faith in trends such as science of religion or theology: giving up the claim of exclusiveness, and pushing forward religious dialogue.

Jaspers’ tolerant attitude, that one must not be exclusive to others, is, as above mentioned, theorized sufficiently throughout his main concepts, such as reason, communication, the Encompassing, etc. Now what happens when philosophical faith as philosophizing meets a real individual faith? How does Jaspers’ idea on religious tolerance relate to, so to speak, other theories of tolerance?

After all, the word tolerance derives from Latin tolerantia and originally means a virtue, the ability to endure pain in lives, given by God. But afterward the meaning of this word somewhat changed; it implies also a vice, to permit heathen beliefs, to be insincere in one’s own faith. The word “tolerance” has the dual meaning, virtue and vice, and according to the author, it is suggestive, when religious tolerance is argued.

The character of the word “tolerance” has a dual meaning, and it appears also in the real attitude of religious tolerance, doubly. There is a tacit understanding that religious intolerance is to be avoided because it is an infringement of human rights, against religious liberty, and, in contrast, religious tolerance is valuable. Nowadays religious liberty is protected in many constitutions as a matter of course. But tolerance would permit indifference to others, irresponsibility, a hands-off policy. How should we accomplish a tolerant attitude preserving the human relationship? How does Jaspers’ existential philosophy of communication respond to this? The claim to giving up of exclusiveness, Jaspers argues, is neither a matter of the protection of human rights, nor a political matter to protest against suppression, but a sincere thinking in facing another faith or religion.

7. Mensching’s theory of tolerance

The next topic in this paper is Mensching’s theory of tolerance. Gustav Mensching, a scholar of science of religion, and a contemporary of Jaspers, published a well-organized book on religious tolerance in 1955, Tolerance and Truth in religion, in which he quotes Jaspers.

First he divided religious tolerance into two phases, formal or intrinsic, with regard to content. Formal tolerance/intolerance is, in a word, ostensible and political participation in religion. Tolerant attitude, according to him, is a “mere noninterference with another faith”[34], and viewing the matter from the perspective of the object tolerated, we speak in this case of religious liberty. On the other hand, the negative standpoint is not to refrain from encroaching upon foreign religions, but rather to force them to subject and to persecute them.

Besides this formal attitude of tolerance or intolerance, that content of other faith is not only noninterference with other religions, but also a positive acknowledgement of a foreign religion as a genuine and legitimate religious possibility of encounter with the sacred, Mensching says. He goes on to say that “this type of tolerance, which I would like to designate actual positive tolerance, is not indifferentism a tolerance based on unconcern but rather an attitude of utmost sympathy. The recognition of other religious as genuine possibilities of encounter with the sacred is not rooted in indifference but presupposes critical encounter and insight.”[35]

The opposite is intrinsic intolerance. It is an exclusive attitude, marked by opposition to other faiths and religions, not on formal grounds, but on the basis of what is regarded as truth. On account of this attitude, other religions are repudiated or even attacked and persecuted because they are regarded as untrue and misleading in content. The true religious tolerance is intr insic tolerance. And how can one reach the true religious tolerance? Mensching thinks that intrinsic tolerance doesn’t imply the surrender of one’s own convictions. And he describes that “we shall see how one can hold a religious position and yet at the same time be intrinsically tolerant deal with the nature of truth in religion”. He is self-confident that “an academic inquiry into the structure of what the various religions regard as truth is quite possible”[36] by describing the history of religion of all ages and all the world from the viewpoint of tolerance, and he found “the basically homogeneous stream of religious life, in all its historically varied forms, that calls for tolerance in the intrinsic and formal senses” through his description. As far as this work, he expresses the truth as the Holy, inherited from Otto, “the basically homogeneous stream of religious life,” namely “the numinouse”. And while keeping his standpoint of the science of religion, and saying, “We cannot pass judgement on the ʻtruth’ and on the correctness of this truth in religion in academic grounds, because the numinouse in itself is no object of scientific study”[37], he concludes that the religious man who is familiar with the objective historical facts should consequently accept tolerance for the sake of “truth” in religion, “without giving up his own religious standpoint”[38]. He concludes his work with the parable of Japanese Zen Buddhist. One and the same moon is reflected in all waters. All moons in the water are one in the one and only moon.

Though Mensching argues in an objective way while describing the history of religion, and Jaspers in an existenz-philosophical way, we can find similarity here. The parable of the Japanese Zen monk, Mensching quotes, reminds us of Jaspers’ the Encompassing. Mensching thinks that “the basically homogeneous stream of religious life, in all its historically varied forms, that calls for tolerance in the intrinsic and formal senses” becomes clear in religious humanity, humanity of various religions, by academic recognition of that which seems to be the truth.

8. The goal of religious tolerance

Now what does the concrete attitude “become to be tolerance by having noticed the truth” aim for? In the last part of Revelation Jaspers talks about self-doubt, which occurs when philosophical faith and revealed faith meet.

He says, “both sides of believer see the limitations, in mind while remaining unconditional” by full critical energy of reason, contempt turn onto feeling of deficiency. What the believer in revelation calls self-doubt will not let the believer in revelation to really believe any more in the revealed concretions, and for the philosophical believer, “it is infinitely hard to live in uncertainty before a hidden Transcendence, to bear the assaults of defaulting selfhood, of failing love, of empty unbelief”. And he says, when both sides of the believer overcome this self-doubt, the believer in faith acquires a deep, wide-open humanity, the philosophical believer will “be affected rather than passively tolerant in learning toward any real, serious believer in revelation.”[39]

Jaspers raises a crucial question whether both believers “show the same respect” and can co-operate, while the believer in revelation meets someone “who, in his sense, is an infidel even though pained by the other’s graceless state, respect him and his way without reservations”, and the philosophical believer is “pained by his failure to find a companion on man’s impervious way”. Finally, Jaspers concludes Revelation with these words:

Originally different ways of life, and of the faith that goes with them, are indeed mutually exclusive: they cannot be realized in the same human being. But they do not exclude each other if they meet in different human beings. Each Existenz is historic; each can be in earnest about loving the other; each can know that between him and the other runs an encompassing bond.[40]

Here we must go back to the basic question of what tolerance is after all. It stands to reason that to meet others who are open-minded brings one to the consciousness of his incompleteness, and that acceptance of otherness becomes an opportunity to deepen one’s life. But to behave gentlemanlike superficially “without giving up one’s own religious standpoint,” in Mensching’s words, and to be “painful” to the attitude of others, in Jaspers’ words, is it to respect them and their way without reservations?

Theologian of religious pluralism John B. Cobb proposes that one must change himself “beyond dialogue”, because, he thinks, religious dialogue alone is not sufficient for the promotion of tolerance. Church-matching exercise as an ecumenical movement may not be realized without preparation to change oneself and each other. Jaspers also warns that “a violent intellectual rationalism” and “intolerant disdain in the guise of indifferent tolerance”[41] must not be implied in the overcome by the philosophical believer. For example, he deals with Job in the 5th part of Revelation. Jaspers regards theologians and friends of Job as being untrue. Because they come to console Job who suddenly fell into misfortune, because they interpret the cause of Job’s misfortune, and try to compel Job willy-nilly to accept the interpretations.[42]

Jaspers thinks self-doubt can be overcome against indifference and violent understanding “only by the absolute veracity [Wahrhaftigkeit] that Transcendence commands.”[43] Jaspers says, “different ways of the faith are indeed mutually exclusive: they cannot be realized in the same human being. But they do not exclusive each other if they meet in different human being.”[44] Here we can see a new problem. As Jaspers says about Job, “A trial at law between him and God? Job realizes that such a thing cannot be.”[45] No one can judge who is true, between Job and God, in spite of the fact that God can judge who is true, Job or his friends. When a man confronts two faiths, or two orientations of value, or two cultures, furthermore, for example, when he is made to tread a tablet bearing an image of Christ, no one can teach him which to choose.At that point, namely, when man is urged to make a definite decision, man is asked, whether he is indeed sincere existentially or not. And that is a steep mountain path.


  1. Cf. K. Hara, “Transcendent Structure in Jaspers’ Philosophy”, in: Memories of Seitoku Junior Collage of Nutrition, No.16, 1985, pp. 65-72; “On Philosophical Faith”, in J. Gakuho, The Annual Report of Modern Humanities Institute, 1989, pp. 99-119; “Existenz und Religion with regard to Jaspers’ Philosophical Faith” in Jitsuzonshiso-Ronshu, Annals of Existential Thought, 1992, pp. 47-65.
  2. K. Jaspers, “Philosophical Autobiography” in The philosophy of Karl Jaspers, Open Court Publishing Company, 1981; Philosophische Autobiographie, Piper, München 1957, p. 65. In H. Saner, “Jaspers’ Idee einer kommenden Weltphilosophie”, in R. Lengert (ed.), Philosophie der Freiheit, 1969., the author points out that the term “world history” already appeared in the posthumous work of 1916. In the epitaph written by Jaspers himself during his lifetime: “Der verlust des politischen Vaterlandes drängt ihn in einen Bodenlosichkeit, in der ihn mit seiner Frau nur auffing der Ursprung des Menschseins überhaupt, die Freundschaft mit einyelnen geliebten Menschen in Deutchland und zerstreut über den Erdball und der Traum eines kommenden Weltbürgertums”, cf. K. Jaspers, Nekrolog in Gedenkfeier für Karl Jaspers, Helbing & Lichtenhahn, Basel 1969.
  3. K. Jaspers, The Great Philosophers, Harcourt, New York 1962; Die großen Philosophen, Piper, München 1957, p. 81.
  4. Jaspers expressed himself on Universal History of Philosophy and Philosophical Logic as on two works that seem as a conclusive lifework. Cf. K. Jaspers, Über meine Philosophie, in Rechenschaft und Ausblick, 1951. In 1947, soon after the end of the War, he published On Truth as the 1st part of Philosophical Logic.
  5. K. Jaspers, The Origin and Goal of History, Routledge, London 1953; Vom Ursprung und Ziel der Geschichte, Zürich 1949, p. 264.
  6. Ivi, p. 248.
  7. Ivi, p. 264.
  8. Ivi, p. 265.
  9. K. Jaspers, Philosophical Faith and Revelation, HarperCollins, New York 1967; Der philosophische Glaube angesichts der Offenbarung, Piper, München 1962, p. 13.
  10. S. Okada reports Jaspers’ memories that he read the Bible again in those days. He has never read the Bible since his school days. Cf. S. Okada, Die Biblische Wende bei Jaspers und das Christentum, in Kommunikation, 17 (2010).
  11. K. Barth, Kirchliche Dogmatik, III/2, § 44.
  12. K. Jaspers, H. Zahrnt, Philosophie und Offenbarungsglaube, Hamburg 1963, S.100f.
  13. The words of translator S. Arai in the afterword of Japanese translation of note n.13, “philosophy and revealed faith”, Risousha, 1966, p. 155.
  14. K. Jaspers, Philosophical Faith and Revelation, p. XXV.
  15. Ivi, p. 6.
  16. Transcendence is the main theme of Ph. Ⅲ, and is argued in many pages.
  17. For example, in Ch. 3 of Ph. III, “The wealth of diversity and the One”.
  18. K. Jaspers, Reason and Existenz, Routledge, London 1956; Vernunft und Existenz, Piper, München 1935, p. 137.
  19. Ivi, p. 139.
  20. Ivi, p. 141.
  21. K. Jaspers, Philosophy I, p. 47.
  22. Ibid.
  23. Ivi, p. 48.
  24. Ivi, p. 62.
  25. K. Jaspers, Philosophy III, p. 38.
  26. K. Jaspers, Philosophical Faith and Revelation, p. 70.
  27. Cf. K. Jaspers, The Perennial Scope of Philosophy, Philosophical Library, 1968; Der Philosophische Glaube, 1948, Piper, München 1948, p. 16.
  28. Ivi, p. 75.
  29. Ivi, p. 321.
  30. Ivi, p. 328.
  31. Ibid.
  32. K. Jaspers, Vernunft und Existenz, p. 142.
  33. The background of those studies of religion and theology insist the relativeness of religions may be caused by the following situations: 1. Collapse of value orientation of Euro-centrism by two World Wars. 2. Plural religions brought by mass media. These conditions have influenced the global enlargement of viewpoint.
  34. G. Mensching, Tolerance and Truth in religion, The University of Alabama Press, Tuscaloosa 1971, p. 11.
  35. Ivi, p. 12.
  36. Ivi, p. 167.
  37. Ibid.
  38. Ibid.
  39. K. Jaspers, Philosophical Faith and Revelation, p. 362.
  40. Ivi, p. 363.
  41. Ivi, p. 362.
  42. Ivi, p. 221 ff.
  43. Ivi, p. 362.
  44. Ivi, p. 363.
  45. Ivi, p. 223.


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