The Question of German Guilt

Front Cover
Fordham Univ Press, Sep 1, 2001 - Philosophy - 117 pages
5 Reviews
Shortly after the Nazi government fell, a philosophy professor at Heidelberg University lectured on a subject that burned the consciousness and conscience of thinking Germans. Are the German people guilty?These lectures by Karl Jaspers, an outstanding European philosopher, attracted wide attention among German intellectuals and students; they seemed to offer a path to sanity and morality in a disordered world. Jaspers, a life-long liberal, attempted in this book to discuss rationally a problem that had thus far evoked only heat and fury. Neither an evasive apology nor a wholesome condemnation, his book distinguished between types of guilt and degrees of responsibility. He listed four categories of guilt: criminal guilt (the commitment of overt acts), political guilt (the degree of political acquiescence in the Nazi regime), moral guilt (a matter of private judgment among one's friends), and metaphysical guilt (a universally shared responsibility of those who chose to remain alive rather than die in protest against Nazi atrocities). Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) took his degree in medicine but soon became interested in psychiatry. He is the author of a standard work of psychopathology, as well as special studies on Strindberg, Van Gogh and Nietsche. After World War I he became Professor of Philosophy at Heidelberg, where he achieved fame as a brilliant teacher and an early exponent of existentialism. He was among the first to acquaint German readers with the works of Kierkegaard. Jaspers had to resign from his post in 1935. From the total isolation into which the Hitler regime forced him, Jaspers returned in 1945 to a position of central intellectual leadership of the younger liberal elements of Germany. In his first lecture in 1945, he forcefully reminded his audience of the fate of the German Jews. Jaspers's unblemished record as an anti-Nazi, as well as his sentient mind, have made him a rallying point center for those of his compatriots who wish to reconstruct a free and democratic Germany.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
2
4 stars
2
3 stars
1
2 stars
0
1 star
0

Review: The Question of German Guilt (Perspectives in Continental Philosophy #16)

User Review  - Joseph Sverker - Goodreads

This book was most certainly interesting and often insightful, but I might not find it profound. Jaspers, according to the introduction by JW Koterski, came out of WWII with not guilt in association ... Read full review

Review: The Question of German Guilt (Perspectives in Continental Philosophy #16)

User Review  - Eva - Goodreads

I had to pick up a book for my philosophy class at university and chose this one, because it was a thin book (I got to be honest here) and also because it covered a theme I was quite interested in. I ... Read full review

Contents

Ladies and Gentlemen
1
Introduction
21
Scheme of Distinctions
25
The German Questions
41
Differentiation of German Guilt
45
Possible Excuses
76
Our Purification
96
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2001)

Karl Jaspers (18831969) took his degree in medicine but soon became interested in psychiatry. He is the author of a standard work of psychopathology, as well as special studies on Strindberg, Van Gogh and Nietsche. After World War I he became Professor of Philosophy at Heidelberg, where he achieved fame as a brilliant teacher and an early exponent of existentialism. He was among the first to acquaint German readers with the works of Kierkegaard.

Bibliographic information