Leaping into Existenz Through Love

We, as humans, exist as social creatures. To live, we require nourishment, shelter, and
love. We can grasp most of what we need through our own accord, though it helps to have help.
Love, however, requires another. Romantic love, platonic love, parental love, and other loves all
share in the fact that they need at least another individual to approach it. In Philosophy of
Existence, Karl Jaspers introduces us to Existenz, an idea that that I believe he believes we reach
for by choosing to participate in the phenomena we call love insofar that we live in (or
approaching) Existenz in the relationships we cultivate using love.

One exists in Existenz when one experiences oneself: his actions affecting himself, his
actions affecting others, others’ actions affecting him. This perception of interconnectivity
extends into the world in infinite combinations but the horizon of subjectivity limits our
experience. Karl Jaspers presents this with the idea of the encompassing and the modes of
encompassing. Jaspers describes man as a determinate being among objects. As a being among
objects we form relationships with the objects and other beings (subjects) that surround us. The
entirety of graspable and ungraspable entities that surround us form what he calls the
encompassing. We take shape within a horizon formed by our knowledge that limits the
encompassing into reality.

“It is the leap from the encompassing that we are as existence,
consciousness, spirit, to the encompassing that we can be, or
authentically are as Existenz” (Jaspers, 25).

This leap requires that things take on form and meaning to ourselves. The Existenz understands
the limitations of interconnectivity and as one approaches Existenz, they approach “reality”
which I believe means a minimally inhibited ability to perceive. Relationships drive this leap
toward Existenz. Relationships between objects, ourselves, and people—romantic, platonic, and
parental—constitutes this leap. We must enter relationships through love because this pushes us
outside our being toward another being, requiring a level of vulnerability and thus constituting a
risk or by Jaspers a leap.

“Even in our most resolute self-awareness arises along with the
fundamental knowledge that as possible Existenz we can become
ourselves only with another Existenz; even Existenz is not a selfcontained unity. If there is unity, it is only in transcendence”
(Jaspers, 76).

I believe Jaspers presents the idea that we are ourselves insofar that our being constitutes only a
part of us and that we exist elsewhere within our relationships. In these relationships, we share in
love, a unity, and then may participate in the journey toward Existenz. If an Existenz experiences
life as they most authentically experience life, he can achieve this idea of perfection (though not
perfection without flaws, rather as close to a “personal perfection” as a being could achieve). I
potentially grasp myself authentically by understanding my fractured self. I exist in fragments of
my experiences and am not constituted by ay of the modes nor am I anything beside the modes.
If this goal of Existenz is transcendence and transcendence is unity of my fractured self, then I
believe the ultimate form of unity requires love—where I break down my protection and work
toward true knowledge of myself and something greater than myself. Once I understand that I
must form relationships to understand myself as a being, then I am available to reach toward

The Existenz exists in transit and can never be wholly reached; our horizon of subjectivity
that calls the encompassing into us will always change and must change for the only time it does
not change is in death. Jaspers categorizes the encompassing as follow…

The Encompassing
Of Subjectivity Of Objectivity
A. Immanent Modes A. Immanent Modes

  • Existence -World
  • Consciousness in General
  • Spirit
    B. Transcendent Mode B. Transcendent Mode
  • Existenz -Transcendence

For the remainder of the paper, I will discuss my beliefs about the importance of forming
relationships based in love within imminent modes of subjectivity and how that helps us reach
toward what Jaspers means by Existenz.

The first of the immanent modes of being I will discuss is existence. The Existenz views
himself in the world as a possibility. He is a possibility formed from the world and his interaction
within the world. The encompassing provides a vast amount of material for which the Existenz
can form a relationship with and experience. The Existenz understands the importance of
allowing themselves to experience the breadth of their ability to interact with the world. If the
world exists as a resource then from the encompassing…

“The return to reality executes the step from mere consciousness
to real existence—the existence that has beginning and end, that
labors and struggles in its environment, or tires and gives in; that
enjoys and suffers, is anxious and hopeful” (Jaspers, 20).

An Existenz exists in the world as possibility, opportunity, and potential; able to execute the
pursuit of life and interact with the world in a manner that is close to infinite but limited by the
form that my consciousness takes shape, one’s human being. My existence in the world as a
being produce my subjectivity. In his love for existence, the Existenz understands and welcomes
change knowing that it will bring about new experience. Jaspers presents this by suggesting that
reality presents itself through our modes of observing reality and I believe an Existenz allows
himself to experience to the fullest breadth that a human may perceive reality. He survives this
change by loving his subjectivity and continuity.

Jaspers coins consciousness in general as the second mode from which one harnesses his
subjective view of reality. The Existenz interacts with consciousness in general as a beacon. (I
will note that the order I am not progressing through his immanent modes in any hierarchal order
but rather counting them so that neither immanent mode is categorically superior to another).
Consciousness in general exists as publicly verifiable abstract or rational thought. From
existence and its inherent subjectivity, we know that these interchangeable perspectives form
consciousness in general as an agreed upon understanding of reality. In many conceptions,
people know this as truth—an agreed upon perception of authentic reality. The sciences fit into
the category of consciousness in general quite nicely. Theories such as our conception of gravity,
though widely accepted, still maintain the limitation inherent with the human perception of
reality. Said another way, if we all agree, it might as well be. Following the nature of the
Existenz, they form a relationship with the consciousness in general through their
acknowledgement of the extent to which consciousness in general has already understood reality for them. In this way, they use consciousness in general to better understand their subjective reality while continually understanding that their reality still exists slightly past what
consciousness in general can provide for them. In return (remember that a relationship must
contain an aspect of give and take) the Existenz contributes to consciousness in general by
sharing ideas, working on theories, and engaging with others. In this participation, they help
affirm, redefine, or change through their love for understanding a human conception of reality.
They must contribute to publicly verifiable or agreeable information while maintaining the
understanding that consciousness in general only serves as a beacon of knowledge in their
journey toward Existenz. Jaspers states that a claim to truth can only ever be used as a weapon or even a falsehood. The Existenz must maintain this understanding as they explore their subjective experience of reality.

Thirdly, Jaspers explains that our spirit emerges from reality as concrete and historical
and universal. To explain the necessity for spirit, I believe we must explore the entity that the
spirit seeks, interconnectivity. This is different from the truth produced by the consciousness in
general because it relies on the necessity to believe without fault. The spirit seeks totality and
wholeness, or peace. Looking at Jasper’s idea of the exception we see that a man participates
and, “in doing so, he can be the truth without being a model” (Jaspers, 45). This tragic notion
implies than the man (or woman) who understands so clearly and brightly for oneself cannot
render this understanding communicable.

“One who thinks from the depths of the origin, loving what he himself is not, only renders what
he understands all the clearer and brighter; so clear and bright, that one who has succeeded and has become what he understands could never render it communicable” (Jaspers, 45)

The essence of being is so profound, so infinite, that any attempt at communicating it, collapses into a form signified by our horizon of subjectivity. In our spirit, we believe in concrete,
historical, and universal because we know we must. As the Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges
poetically states, when we build we must build on sand but pretend that the sand is stone.1
It is in spirit that, as Existenz, we must love a totality fully as we strive to create wholeness despite
existing as fragments of the encompassing. It is in this commitment to love within ones’
relationships that we can scratch at transcendence through unity.

The journey toward Existenz exists in the pursuit of love when we look at the two as
paths and journeys and limited by their nature as paths and journeys. Existenz exists in the
process of loving due to the incredible vulnerability and threat to my individual but it is exactly
in that threat that I learn about my person and subjectivity in entirety.

“If nothing comes to meet me, if I do no love, if what is does not
come to me through my love and I do not become myself in it, then
I remain in the end as an existence that can be used only like a raw
material” (Jaspers, 29).

In my attempt and reaction, otherwise stated the love within my relationships, I understand fully
the subjectivity I experience and approach the unity we experience within Existenz. From the
beginning, we defined the human being as a determinate being among objects or raw materials.
The relationships we form results from our determination and acting of our will in a way that can
affect and influence other determinate beings, which does include my self. An Existenz is aware
of their existence, the relationship within themselves. They are aware of their consciousness in
general, the relationship within their understanding and commonly understandings of our limited
perceptions of reality. They are aware of their spirit, their relationship and response to their
necessity to build and commit resolutely despite the dangers inherent in doing so. The final
frontier for Existenz exists in the love they create in the relationships they fashion through
Jaspers’ immanent modes. This imperative aspect allows the being to grip themselves in the
fullest by giving in to the inability to control. In a relationship based in love, the being can only
present their understanding of their being and react to another being doing the same thing,
constituting a slight forfeit of control. We must love in order to avoid being reduced to a raw
material but also because the Existenz lives in approach of a frontier.

“But the frontier of the absolutely free and autonomous man can
never be reached once and for all. Every individual fails at some
time; he never becomes the whole man. Therefore, no matter how
many steps he has climbed along the way to mature freedom, the
honest individual cannot do without the tension between his
freedom and authority” (Jaspers, 49).

Due to our shortcomings, the frontier remains unreachable and reveals our need of others,
relationships, and ultimately love. It is in the pursuit of love that we live in Existenz due to our
maintaining effort in creating, solidifying, or changing relationships between existence,
consciousness in general, and spirit.

Our relationships cultivate an understanding of ourselves outside of ourselves. Jaspers
presents the three immanent modes of subjectivity as existence, consciousness in general, and
spirit and defines Existenz as the phenomena that transcends these. In these relationships, we
approach Existenz by understanding the limitations erected by the human condition but reach for
love despite its imperfections. A distinctly unique human experience, the love we create exists in
the intangible relationships between ourselves, others, and our beliefs. Our unique social ability
marks the distinction between us as humans and us as objects only if we choose to love. It is
important to choose because it breathes continuity into existence— continually exposing oneself
to the dangers of the violent existential crises that is inherent with the fallout of love.

If we see love as willing for another’s will to will, we see the great sacrifices inherent with the phenomena. This phenomenon stretches the limits of the subjective human condition and pushes an idea that is bigger than ourselves, but, unlike us, is infallible so long as we continue choosing to love. We are fallible because “everything that exists, it must become something else” (Jaspers, 77). Only in using our experience of the encompassing as a resource to create love can we reach toward Existenz and create an infallible existence.

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