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About the Author
Karl Jaspers (1883-1969) was a German-born psychiatrist and philosopher and one of the most original, interesting and yet neglected European thinkers of the twentieth century. Initially trained as a psychiatrist before taking up philosophy, his book General Psychopathology (1913) remains a classic in psychiatric literature. Never an adherent of any school or movement, his philosophy was shaped by his early encounters with Max Weber, whose family were close friends of Jaspers', and later Martin Heidegger, who had an important influence on Jaspers' own brand of existentialism. Jaspers' thought was also deeply marked by the rise of Nazism in the 1930s. As his wife was Jewish, he was dismissed from his chair as a professor at the University of Heidelberg in 1937 and his publications banned. At this time he was a tutor to Hannah Arendt, before she emigrated to the United States, and their ongoing philosophical exchanges after 1945 became a key feature of Jaspers' later work. Amongst his best-known works is The Question of German Guilt (1946), which examined the culpability of Germany as a whole in the atrocities of Hitler's Third Reich.