German existentialist theologian. Born in Oldenberg in Germany, Jaspers began his career as a medical student. From 1921 to 1937 he was professor of philosophy at Heidelberg, but was removed by the Nazis, and although reinstated in 1945 he eventually settled in Basel. Jaspers was centrally a psychologist and theologian, concentrating upon the psychological nature of encounters with God, and deriving from Kierkegaard and Nietzsche a sense of philosophy not as a rational investigation of the world, but as a private, lived-out struggle.
Although sharing the existentialist preoccupation with moments of death, guilt, and Angst, Jaspers was somewhat more optimistic about the possibilities for human existence than some of his contemporaries. His numerous works include the three-volume Philosophie (1932, trs. as Philosophy, 1967–71).