Karl Jaspers and the Paradigm
Jaspers regards the totality of being as the Encompassing. He distinguishes the two realms of the Encompassing; the first is Da-sein, consciousness general and Existenz, and the second is the transcendent as God. The philosophy of Jaspers aims to understand this invisible Encompassing through cipher reading.
For Jaspers, Reason is the ligament of all the states of the Encompassing within us. If this is true, so is the light to the Encompassing. Light in the Paradigm of Christ, penetrating all the layers of our being and the transcendent, corresponds to this Reason. As the principle of life, light penetrates itself from the archaic impulses to the Reason as such.
Jaspers divides the languages of the cipher into three different epistemological levels. In other words, there are three kinds of ciphers depicting the transcendent so that the invisible may become visible.
The first language relates to the direct experience of the transcendent. It is an individual's experience of recognition of the transcendent in which the Existenz grasps the totality of life connected to the absolute consciousness. In our language, this is the conversion experience. This is the cipher of a direct impression of the transcendent. It is a spatial configuration of the transcendent to which the other two languages can fulfill meaning. The second language is that of myth, literature and art, which are the treasure house of symbols. Those impressions of an individual's particular experience are here translated into the common metaphorical language. The third language is the speculative language. Here, introducing the conceptual ciphers allows us to objectify the characteristics of the transcendent.
The content of the transcendent through the threefold nature of ciphers can be understood as follows; firstly, by forming the approximate configuration of the totality of life; secondly, by emerging concrete images of symbols through mythical and poetic contexts; thirdly, by explaining the nature of the transcendent through metaphysical concepts.
These three languages have not found organic unity in Jaspers. They are still relatively independent of each other. In the Paradigm of Christ, these three are closely connected and mutually complementary, completing their organic unity.
For Jaspers, anything that obtains the truth of the transcendent from the beauty in nature to sophisticated symbols of religion, literature, and metaphysics are ciphers. Since transcendence as such is invisible, everything referring to it necessarily becomes cipher. Insisting the truth, ciphers are in a continual struggle with each other.
"The quiet struggles within the soul, which is out of hearing and itself presumably unconscious, take place in the way of life that accepts various ciphers stepping up to us everywhere. These struggles are varied by being tentatively experienced, deeply impressed, or pushed away at the corner."
" What is essentially important is, among the phenomena of the great but particular cipher world, the struggle for the assimilation to the central cipher that penetrates and leads all the ciphers. From such a center, the attitude to all the ciphers and the relation to the ciphers are determined."
(Philosophical Faith and Revelation p. )
Acquisition of the central cipher out of the assimilation from the diverse ciphers can be done only through the phenomenological reduction of various religious thoughts, as the Paradigm of Christ had attempts. If one is to discover such a central cipher the use of Christianity alone is nearly impossible.
"Even if one tries to express what it means by this center or the penetrating principle, one cannot correctly manifest it. Because we are in the middle of various powers which we cannot overview. "
Jaspers's outlook is rather negative when it comes to finding the central point in the cipher world. However, the Paradigm of Christ can clearly say that the center is the principle of life's energy based on light. Hence the metaphorical system of the Gospel based on light depicting the archetypal structure of life occupies the center. Aristotle's actuality and Plato's Form of the Good respectively become the guiding ciphers of movement and essence of life.
"The realm of cipher is not a harmonious realm which makes us known to us the abundance of Being in an unequivocal manner.
Even though some ciphers promise tranquility, knowledge of the whole of the world of ciphers does not by any means provide this tranquility. Ciphers speak out against other ciphers. Paying heed to these ciphers, I deny those. Though we immerse ourselves in individual ciphers, their background remains this realm as a whole as a realm of struggle.
But what kind of a struggle is it? It is not the struggle of existence, not the struggle for the power; rather, it is the struggle for truth at its primal source."
(Philosophical Faith and Revelation p.128)
For Jaspers, both totalitarianism and dogmatic Christianity are virtually his enemies. However he did not clearly fix himself on his own final cipher. Therfore, Jaspers stresses the struggling nature of ciphers.
The ciphers of truth resonate with one another. The ciphers of the transcendent, while struggling on the one hand, and sympathizing on the other, lead the followers to the freedom of Existenz . As in the Matthew 13:24-30 and 36-43, at first there may be some struggles, for the weed and the wheat are left in the same field. At the close of the age, weeds are naturally reaped and burned with fire. All the authentic ciphers sympathize with each other and find their correct places within our minds. (13:43) The righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. This passage also corresponds to Matthew 27:52. The tombs also were opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many. The saints are the metaphor of the correct ciphers, and its meaning becomes clear at the beginning of the third temporal zone; the resurrection.
The ciphers of truth are resonant with one another. The Good in Plato and the Self in Jung are, as the integration of the ideas and archetypes respectively, resonant with each other as the synthesis of the constituents of being. The actuality in Aristotle and the dialectics of Hegel (or Fichte) are also resonant with each other as the principle of the teleological movement of life.
Aphorisms of myths also resonate with one another. I will introduce one example of this comparison here.
He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for my sake will find it. (Matthew 10:39)
As the ignorant act, because of their fondness for action, so should the wise act without such attachment, fixing their eyes, O Arjuna, only on the welfare of the world. (Bhagavad Gita 3:25)
Both of these try to let us understand that we will be liberated through our moral response to the transcendent, instead of clinging to our selfish ego. For my sake and on the welfare of the world indicate the same reality.
Instead of the object of authority or the object of literal interpretation, Jaspers demands that revelation should not be the foundational fact but rather the cipher of the transcendent. He excludes idolization of revelation and gives up the dogmatic faith. It is his conviction that humans were made by God to become free out of all kinds of dogmatic prejudice. Such an independent standpoint is somewhat close to Zen Buddhism. Zen's uniqueness is that in accepting other thoughts freely, it does not even attach to its own denomination.
The following are the famous Zen maxims.
A special transmission outside the Scriptures;
No dependence upon words and letters;
Direct pointing the soul of man;
Seeing into one's nature and the attainment of Buddhahood;
(Cited from The World of Zen by Nancy Wilson Ross p.5)
However, Jaspers opposes Rudolf Bultman's demythologization. Bultman attempted to demythologize the New Testament through his study of Heidegger's ontology and his own Form Criticism in erasing some of the New Testament statements that, he thought, belonged to ancient worldviews.
"This demythologization deprive us of every kind of mythical world; the land of cipher general and rip off the language of transcendent with quite rich and manifold meanings from us." (Philosophical Faith and Revelation p. )
In any arbitrary deletion of the metaphorical language, we lose sight of the possibility of the discovery of parabolic truth. So he recommends transforming the any corporeal myth to ciphers of the transcendent so that arbitrary deletion can no longer be possible.
Jaspers insists as a cosmopolitan that the common ground, where mankind can have encounters with one another without abandoning their peculiar tradition, must be sought after. He seeks after the philosophical faith open to every nation. There, each concrete faith does not exclude one another but rather harmonizes and understands one another.
Thus, the most profound unity occurs while heading towards a certain invisible religion, towards various kingdoms of spirit where we mutually encounter and mutually attribute, and toward the hidden kingdom where Being is unfolded while our spirits are in harmony. (The Origin and Goal of History p.327)