Globes, by Peter Sloterdijk – Conversation 4



  • Chapter 5: Deus sive sphaera, Or: The Exploding Universal One
  • Excursus 5: On the Meaning of the Unspoken Statement “The Orb is Dead”
  • Chapter 6: Anti-Spheres – Explorations in the Infernal Space
  • Parenthesis: On Depression As a Crisis of Extension

Pages 441–636

Metapsychosis page

Based on the shorter February month, wanted to bring attention that we have less than two weeks for this reading. Has anyone attempted Chapter 5? Globes has been my bedside book for the past week and just finished Deus sive sphaera…quite the beast of a chapter! I can see us divided again on this particular chapter (as @johnnydavis54 and @Geoffrey_Edwards stated Chapter 4 was a slog…and much of Chapter 5 is a rehash and expansion upon 4…), though I particularly enjoy being tied to the back of Sloterdijk’s vehicle as he drags me along in the mud. Perhaps the later explorations into the Infernal Space will heat things up a bit. Hope @jamieandhisego and @Eduardo_Rocha are willing and able to provide their input on these challenging chapters, or anyone who has made it this far…

Also recommend Alchemy & Mysticism compiled by Alexander Roob of the Hermetic Museum, essentially a collection/commentary of hundreds of collected painting/images. Nearly all of Solterdijk’s Globes images in Chapter 5 & 6 are in this book. Grabbed a copy at Borders bookstore eons ago (before such images were widely available on the web)…looks like a copy is available on LibraryGenesis if interested.


I started reading Chapter 5 today. This chapter is gigantic. I probably will not be able to finish on time, but maybe I’ll show up and just look like a spectator this time.


I’ve just started reading Chapter 5, which is a beast. But I’m pretty sure I will get all the reading done by next week.

One thought: What if we had a few different people to lead the discussion of the different assigned sections for next week, and we allot a given amount of time for each?

For example, one or two people could lead a talk on Deus Sive Sphaera. Someone else on “The Orb is Dead.” Someone else on 'Anti-Spheres."

I might like to try mind-mapping “the surreal center” and basing a talk on that. I’m sure someone else could have fun with “Explorations in Infernal Space.” Any sign-ups?

What do y’all think?


Mind mapping is a great idea.

Sounds “co-operative”…though my only contribution may be another poem-type summary, as that seems to be the only method my mind uses to process Sloterdijk’s madness.

These chapters reveal or unveil the core of the Spheres project, as we noted too with Chapter 4 in our previous discussion. Sloterdijk’s core concept of the overlooked morpho-impossibility of past spherical projects has not yet sent revelatory vibrations or shivers down my spine (it did not cause my own orbits to wobble and topple nor has it grappled the senses (ennui) in a stranglehold as, say, Sartre’s Nausea achieved). So what is it’s significance? Is Sloterdijk’s observation of the loss of the center and the periphery opening up new ways of seeing and being in the world?


I have just realized that I wont be able to attend most of Thursday’s discussion of Sloterdijk. I can be there for the first half hour and then have to leave. It’s too bad because I’ve done most of the reading (and will be finished by tonight) and I enjoyed both Chapters 5 and 6. The first part of Chapter 5 was a bit of a slog, the argument seemed to me unnecessarily complex, but then I thought Sloterdijk’s analysis of the reason the world of things is “dead” and inert quite brilliant and it changed my understanding of the origins of the objectivist paradigm. I had assumed that the world of things was viewed as inert as a result of our modern scientific perspective, but I now see that the religious view sees the world of things as dead because it is “furthest from God”. Really interesting. The Chapter on Hell I agreed with almost 100%, but this sort of analysis is not new, although I always love reading about Hell ; I have read Dante’s Inferno, although after having read chapter 5, I am now inclined to go and read his Paradisio as well.


I’d be happy to lead off the discussion on Chapter 5 - I wrote out extensive notes and have a kind of argument thread I could share.


That sounds good to me, @Geoffrey_Edwards.

I read through Chapter 6 as of this morning. When I was reading Chapter 5, over the weekend, I thought I might be able to create a Kumu mind map of the various ‘centers’, ‘peripheries,’ and (ultimate dissolution in) ‘infinities’ Peter discusses in terms of Old Europe’s cosmocentric and theocentric worldviews—and the downstream consequences thereof, as modernization takes hold. But alas, no such mind map finally congealed in my mind’s eye—there is some deeper question I’m brooding over having to do with current ideas around “decentralization” which I have not yet fully formulated—so I’m glad you’ll be leading us off.

The question I have is, who will lead us through Hell? Who will be our Virgil through parentheses of depression, into the pit of despair?

I’m going to ride my the bicycle I use to Lucky’s Market, to buy some frozen berries, to make a smoothie with. After all that reading, and ahead of our meeting, I could use an immunity booster, perhaps.


Let me throw this slightly less stumbling attempted answer to John’s question out there while it’s still in my head before I go to bed.

Aurobindo: What does an integral life-practice (tied together harmoniously through all levels from vital to spiritual in the individual - and among individuals in the collective) look like?

Sloterdijk (presumably, possibly): What, in modern and postmodern times where the concept of the center is no longer taken for granted, does an a-centric metaphysics look like (if such can exist)?

Great talk, everyone!


This whole of everything is described by an image of a sphere. Sloterdijk takes the globe as starting point. The first form of religion forged in the idea of ​​logos. He then retakes Christian theology in the ontology of the sphere, to the morphological “tragedy” in a more modern process of the infinitization of God and the universe. The notion of globe replaces that of bubble, for what Sloterdijk has in mind is the way ancient theological and metaphysical projects are proprietary in the history that slopes up and even enters modernity, is that of the orbit. It enters, he says, in the age of heliocentrism. Everything is one and One is round. God is a sphere and everything is made from the vision of a globe, the circle, the orbit. Man needs to restore the idea of ​​micro in macro terms. In this case, politics follows metaphysics and ontology: empires are forms of government and ancient societies, always as wholes that imply a center and a periphery, forming an orbit, a globe-shaped cosmos. That is, from any place is on the periphery of one of the concentric orbits, and therefore, all the paths are geometric rays that carry us to the philosophical, religious or political center. Exiting this record then became something of a “spherical blasphemy.” The heliocentrism showed the man his condition of falling back into the open. Things like gods, monsters, flat earth, wizards, occult forces, ghosts, aliens, etc., no longer belong to the modern world of modern man. With the overflow of the sphere in modernity, man now sees himself open to a supremacy of the infinite exterior and outside of God, he is no longer in the inside, but in the outside he is the terrestrial globe, and he now must create mechanisms and systems immunological studies. Before we ask about what we are or where we came from or what man is, we must establish where we are and we are in spheres because only then man was able to produce himself. The production of man by himself is done by technique, exercises and asceticism. All metaphysical philosophy is then disavowed. The phrase “God is dead” is not an atheist phrase but a statement of this metaphysical disinflation. So now we can feel the cold from nowhere. The cold comes because there is no more sun. The horizons were erased and lost their contours. The directions are gone. The classic teleo-ontological charm has been empty, now emptiness fills everything. Fall is free on all sides. I believe that we are now in a phase of conquering terrestrial and air space. Some kind of mobilization for the conquest of the outside and try to tame it. A world that goes by design or some kind of fashion. For design, it never means inventing something from scratch, but rather rethinking already existing objects, from molecules, so to speak, so that their appearance can transform itself again. What prevails here are things like climate, acclimatization, thermostats, comfort, immunology, ecology, among others. Open such artificial spaces as greenhouses. Man does not really live on the outside, but on the inside. On Marco’s question on politics. I believe that strenuous people do not want more money, buy an apartment in Dubai or buy a new ferrari, these pockets of wealth are driven by identity, recognition, pride and self-esteem. Serve the community a little. Often they spend fortune simply to appear. An alliance between what we have today as social-democratic or even liberal state with this communitarianism of the common good since we are a Christian West. I think we have to leave the state a little aside and see what people like Elon Musk, Bil Gates, Zuckenberg can do for us and are already doing. Elon Musk is likely to spend all his fortune on space technologies and that is a great achievement. We have players and athletes with their foundations on cancer research, disease research center, others create and help people enter the NBA, NFL. The point is that it seems that everything is widening we are putting things around the earth, someday we will be on Mars. The sphere is to conquer the exterior and turn it into a habitable interior.


I do not know if you like animes, drawings, animations or comics, but reading this chapter reminded me of some that might be interesting. Serial experiments Lain, Neon Genesis Evangelion and a work of Neil Gaiman called Sandman. They are not directly linked to the subject, but they talk a lot about the world.


“I think we have to leave the state a little aside and see what people like Elon Musk, Bil Gates, Zuckenberg can do for us and are already doing.”

I think we already know what these people can do for us and some of it is pretty bad. In my view, they are profoundly out of touch with what Nora Bateson refers to as the patterns that connect. If we could add this perspective to the mix of voices would we still want to go to Mars without learning to live ecologically here on planet earth? Do we really want to spend limited resources so we can provide an exit for the 1% who created this mess?


That’s a great way of summarizing Sloterdijk’s project, TJ. A while back, I recall, you were reading Fareed Zakaria’s The Post-American World, which argues that a polycentric world order is emerging, no longer dominated by one or two great super-powers. I wonder if that word, “polycentric,” is a more concrete way of putting what might be ocurring with the “foam”?

Except, I still think we need to account for a depth dimension. The problem with the foam metaphor is that it’s so flat. Foam only knows one level—a chaotic froth. Yet in actuality, there are spheres within spheres, bubbles (or Klein bottles???) all the way down, and complex relationships between myriad centers, which are not fixed points but always being affected by everything that’s happening outside themselves.

Aurobindo, perhaps, embodies a higher possibility. “Higher” meaning “deeper,” in this case (enfolding more levels or dimensions), which maybe Sloterdijk comes to eventually, in his own way, in You Must Change Your Life. Foucault came around to the “life practice” (ethical self-potential-realizing) viewpoint in his later work, as well, and also went back to the roots of the West, in ancient Greek spiritual practice, for inspiration.

Also Plato’s question, no? One thing to note, as we translate to the Aurobindosphere, is how profoundly he was steeped in European culture. He is educated at Cambridge, reads in multiple languages (Greek, Latin, French…), but then comes around to an Indian nationalist, and finally a fully spiritual point of view.

I don’t know enough about Sloterdijk’s initiation, if that’s what it was, with Osho (aka Baghwan Shree Rajneesh)—but if I were only to read Spheres I might get the impression of a more provincial (Eurocentric) view of the world, compared with Aurobindo’s more truly “global” integration.

I propose this comparison, however, only as a hypothesis…I have not yet delved into Aurobindo, so am only speaking of what I know second-hand, at this point.


Objectively speaking, I believe you are right. There are massive resources (technology, brainpower, materials) going into reverse-engineering the world in the physical dimension and exerting control over space. Biotechnology, nanotechnology, and quantum computing will (eventually) allow us to completely reshape not only the physical environment but our own bodies.

However, the quest to conquor the “outside”—if this is what is driving us—isn’t this an impossible project? Wouldn’t a sane consciousness rethink the whole approach? I believe Sloterdijk’s point about the attempt to construct a Total Sphere is that it can’t possibly work and eventually must collapse, with monstrous consequences. If we cannot even live reasonably on one planet, then how will we fare in the depths of space?

Will only the gods save us now? Does it matter that our gods are Elon Musk and LeBron James? Personally, I would love to visit Mars someday, and would certainly give all due respect the reigning ‘king’ of basketball, on his ‘court’. (That reminds me: Who will catch the golden :basketball: ? :smile:)

However, I still wonder if there is a better way to construct a Cosmos than what is being portrayed to us through centralized global media platforms and the dubious metaphysics of capitalist culture. I believe we could do better than foam!


Quick technical note (as @hfester and @madrush referenced Sloterdijk’s In the World Interior of Capital ):

“The Last Orb” in Globes is essentially the entire World Interior book. Or actually, “The Last Orb” is Chapters 2-29; the remaining chapters in World Interior are (likely) adding on to the Globes discussion or might transition into the Foams material. Whatever the case may be, we now can say that we have read something of Sloterdijks outside of Spheres.


Hi, @Douggins, I referenced his book Critique of Cynical Reason. I haven’t read his work on capital yet, but I might take a peak (though no deep dive likely on my own) this summer. Here’s the intro to Critique that I scanned and uploaded originally to the Sloterdijk’s politics page if you’re interested. I thought it was an especially good read and helped me see how German scholars–if only the sympathetic ones–might see his work (the piece that was missing for me). Huyssen, Andreas_Foreword to Sloterdijk’s Critique of Cynical Reason.pdf (2.7 MB)