Globes, by Peter Sloterdijk – Conversation #2


(T J Williams) #41

Sorry… meaning that the varying “conceptions of absence” made more sense to me when I thought of them in the terms of Gebser’s structures. Sloterdijk’s use of ‘philosophy’ in a kind of “tradition of deep thought” way is certainly looser than Gebser’s, and my connection was just a way to point out that there is something to looking at “China, India, and Greece”.

As to the running battle in world history or comparative sociology over terms such as ‘advanced’ or ‘civilized’, well, that’s another whole kettle of fish… :grin: Historian Bruce Mazlish even makes the interesting case that the term “civilization” has outlived whatever intellectual usefulness it may have had [Civilization and its Contents (Stanford Univ Press, 2004)]…

(Ed Mahood) #42

There are a number of words – as many of the recent posts in the various overlapping discussions have shown – that are in dire need of shoring up or tossing out.

It has long been a personal bugaboo that there are a good number of people who are what I would call almost “pure associationists”: Term A appears here and Term A appears there, therefore the two uses are associated and hence relevant. My primary skepticism regarding the Raschke article, for example, was due to how he was using the term “globalization”. I suspected you were making a point and Sloterdijk was just being himself … sloppy. :roll_eyes:

There’s a fine line to be observed, of course. It is very easy to go from concept clarification to hair-splitting, and I wouldn’t want that at all. I do think it’s important, though, that discussion partners are clear on what relevant key words mean and what they mean to the various discussion participants as well.

(T J Williams) #43

Which goes right to the heart of “globalization” (or “civilization” or “integral”) as a broader topic, doesn’t it? I admit to being a bit sloppy myself at times, but have no illusions as to just how much there is to incorporate before we can begin to say we have things figured out on such vast (human) scales. Gebser demonstrated awareness of this on every page…

(Geoffrey Edwards) #44

I love this article (Bahn’s Three Zeros)… I find it very deep, for such a short text. And it clarifies Bannerji’s dicussion of the Brahman, as well.

The whole discussion reminds me of the book about the Zero (Zero : The Biography of a Dangerous Idea, by Charles Seife). I worked on this a number of years ago, extending Seife’s ideas to a broader understanding of measurement. Hence the Babylonians integrated a rudimentary idea of zero around 500 B.C. as a « placeholder » in large numbers (like the zero in the number « 201 » for example) - so a « zero as marker ». The Chinese also had a placeholder system, based on decimals (the number ten - the basis of the Babylonian numbering system was 60) as early as 1400 B.C. By the third century B.C., the Chinese incorporated zero without actually naming it (hence, for example, they worked with negative numbers although did not actually represent them either). So the Chinese notion was « zero as inferred », which actually relates to the idea presented by Bahm of « zero as the absence of exclusion ». The Greeks did not manipulate zero, but did work with irrational numbers, although these were treated as « monstrous » by many of that culture. It was the Persians who developed the modern idea of zero. This was later transferred to the Arabs, who are credited with our modern numbering system although in fact the Persians were there first (remember Persia then is roughly speaking Iran today). So the Persians had « zero as the absence of being » - so we inherit this idea from the Muslim world! As for the Indians, they played a peripheral role in the propagation of algebraic ideas in the ancient world (developed by the Arabs), but they sidestepped the whole « zero » thing, which is perhaps partly why they have a different idea of zero (that is, no concept of zero!).

It was the Renaissance that brought these ideas to the West. In fact, if I might speculate, the western idea of zero might be linked to the invention of calculus. For us, zero is the result of a process (taking the limit), or, alternatively, as arbitrarily small quantities (differentials), so we have « zero as a limit of being » when we are not simply copying the older ideas (or perhaps it is really « zero as a limit of becoming »). And maybe that is also what we are doing here - infinity is also the result of a process of taking the limit (infinite conversations…). So we are giving philosophical form to this idea of working with limits. Why limits? Because the world and society coming into being today is by its nature liminal - we are living at the finite edge of what the planet can support. Just an idea…

(douglas duff) #45

Just added the John Gray in depth review mentioned awhile back here:

A quote from Ed nearly sums up Gray’s conclusion as well…Gray titles above essay “Blowing Bubbles”:

Sloterdijk, it would seem, shares quite a bit in common with my grandson. He too blows bubbles of sorts: here and there a shimmering, wiggling, reminding-of-impermanence form floats across the reader’s mind; and we are taken up in his exuberance and frivolity; but even the biggest bubbles upon closer examination inevitably burst, that bubble-popping splatter tickling a bit as the bubble disappears, and we find the mental armchair as well in need of cleaning. It’s fun, to be sure … the first couple of times, but soon enough it just becomes work – keeping up with the cleaning, that is – and then it’s not so much fun anymore.