Globes, by Peter Sloterdijk – Conversation 5


Our creative reading of philosopher Peter Sloterdjik’s SPHERES: Volume 2: GLOBES continues.

For this session, we are reading:

  • Chapter 7: How the Spheric Center Has Long-Distance Effects through the Pure Medium—On the Metaphysics of Telecommunication
  • Excursus 6: The De-crowning of Europe—An Anecdote about the Tiara

Pages 637–764

NOTE TO PARTICIPANTS (from @madrush)

Let’s discuss an approach to this upcoming talk, and what we might like (individually~collectively) to bring to it.

For example, is there a poignant question (or a few) we might collaboratively contemplate? Or do we have poetry to share? What others authors or texts can we loop into the discussion for illumination? (Would it make sense to discuss media theory at this point in our circumambulations?)

We have two more sessions with Sloterdijk left, and how can we make the most of them? What are we learning from our experience with the text (and our related conversations)? Myself: I would like to continue synthesizing what we’ve read so far, where we’re going, the big story. I would like to continue questioning the various “centers” Sloterdijk is foreshadowing in the modern world by touring their proto-formulations in cultural history. I would also like to probe the sense I have that this book could be read as a kind of civilizational post-mortem in anticipatory mode.

“The last man lives longest,” Nietzsche wrote. I imagine Sloterdijk would assume the same of the “last orb.”

Metapsychosis page


Here’s an idea. If we were to write a “post-Sloterdijk” book collectively, what might it look like? I’m not saying let’s write such a thing, I’m saying lets outline it… Or think about the elements that would need to go into an outline. What would be our main argument? I think we’ve read enough Sloterdijk now, even though we haven’t read his third volume, to get a pretty good sense where he is going. I often use a writing exercise to pull together my own ideas about readings, and synthesize new directions that arise out of those readings. Such an exercise could take advantage of our collective intelligence to do something similar.


What arose for me in the last discussion is how do we know good philosophical writing? What is bad philosophical writing? I consider Sloterjdiik to be capable of both. So what is the first sign that let’s you know the author has lost his capacity to drive the bus? When does the oracular voice get over the top? When does self parody distort the message and the messenger? How do we, as disciplined readers, who have complex lives outside of the library, make sense of someone who seems to have never stepped outside the library? If Sloterjdiik is adopting a performative voice, maybe TV is the best place for that, but perhaps puts Globes, into jeopardy. I am very concerned, as is Martha Nussbaum, with academic writing that creates too much distance from lived experience. When does the over use of technical jargon or lack of clear arguments, hide the fact that there are no new ideas? Has Sloterjdiik done that? With all of his flaws is he redeemable after this lack luster performance in the last two chapters?

The good news! I imagine that we can start to develop a comparative philosophical project, to launch us into the next phase of our collective evolution. I imagine the future reading of Sri Aurobindo will be a welcome opportunity to enter a different kind of cultural landscape. I sense that the foundation for that comparative potential ( thanks to TJ’s deep dive in Human Cycle) may soon be realized, if we so desire. What needs to happen to make that happen?

My personal task, moving towards that direction, will determine the kind of participation I want to give shape to. In order to make the final sessions of this reading valuable, and set the stage for the next wave of inspiring scholarship, I will need to engage in some extra-curricular research. My plan is to fast forward, as TJ did with Sri Aurobindo, and move into Sloterjdiik’s future writing, to discover if there are any relevant motifs or themes that were not realized, or only hinted at, in this long drawn out, and what I fear is a failed attempt at Grand Narrative.

Thanks to all for your creative impulses to make this development happen. I imagine the heavy lifting we are doing here will pay off in the long run. Let’s keep our eyes on the prize.


Coming up for air at the end of a crazy week.

Interesting points made about


and globalization (from a capitalist perspective):

Just some things I’ll try to keep in mind while assessing the overall relevance (if any) of spherology in our times…


I think Sloterdijk is talking a lot between the lines, but I do not consider it a bad text yet. I think this idea of ​​the world will come to an end and probably the next few chapters will be “The Last Sphere: for a Philosophical History of the Globalization of the Earth.” Usually we see the philosophy of the philosopher, but here is a little different. There is no kind of “personal experience”. He is almost creating his own space world and putting things where they should be. Like a room: where will the television be? The bed? He is doing a task almost from an interior designer, architect-engineer or even from the philosopher’s idea of ​​Nietzsche as a sort of “doctor of culture”, an archaeologist / researcher. Someone who becomes an “immunologist of culture,” a spherologist. To formulate a diagnosis about a time, one must be intoxicated by it. Philosophical thinking is not pure reflection or expression of any wisdom or even eternal questions unanswered: it is mainly a fever that reacts to the inoculation of a kind of healing. If philosophy is a voluntary intoxication, it is the ferment of a poison thanks to which, by a slow alchemy, the spirit manages to recover part of its freedom. When I started reading Spheres, I saw something different. Something so close to Kafka, Dostoyevsky, and Poe. I would say that it is closer to a surrealism than to something in the field of Classical Sociology or even politics. This way of doing philosophy has its origins in Derrida and has to do with a real movement in the history of philosophy, characterized by the American philosopher Whitehead. If Derrida works with “deconstruction of texts” and Richard Rorty with the “irony”, Sloterdijk seems to go through a third way and thus have a taste of something surreal, a kind of “fantastic reconstruction.” Something like the Twilight Zone.
He works and even created his own semantic loads by literally reading metaphors. Sloterdijk works with a kind of vocabulary of his own. The American philosopher Donald Davidson undid the distinction between what is metaphor and what is literal. He constructed a good argumentation about how there is no meaning in the metaphor that would eventually reveal itself in the discovery of its corresponding literality. Nietzsche had said something like calling the truth a battalion of metaphor and metonymy. Richard Rorty, for his part, formulated a conception of language inspired by both: our whole expression is metaphorical, and the language we use in so-called literal expressions is nothing but dead metaphors. When I use a metaphor, I am not casting a “other sense” of what would literally exist, but rather, I am breaking a narrative to cause a commotion. A metaphor is like a kiss or a slap in the face or a photo taken from the pocket in the middle of a narrative. Create a state of mind in the other to reformulate what you think, to leave the same, to think differently or simply to surprise. We might even say that using language does this. The re-creation of some ontic sensation or ontology.
A very important word for Sloterdijk is design. I think that word has a very strong sense even in the revolutionary realm. “Design” does not occur at a time when there are fewer things to do; it occurs at a time when there is more to do. What no revolution has ever contemplated - the reconstruction of our collective life on Earth - must be carried out with an attitude exactly opposite to revolutionary and modernizing attitudes. This is what makes the spirit of time so interesting. Revolution must always be revolutionized. This new “revolutionary” energy would be drawn from a set of attitudes difficult to appear in revolutionary movements: modesty, caution, caution, skill, meaning, attention to detail, careful conservation, redesign, material, artificiality, climate, atmosphere and fashion. Sloterdijk is taking the term for example of air or gravity into an atmosphere. A community exalted as has already been said about the “creation of man” by God or the boy blowing bubbles. He uses this to make descriptions in his spherology. The words here are environments more descriptive than internal meanings. When we look at these linguistic reflections and think about them from philosophy, we can note that our symbolization that the human capacity for symbology, and therefore language, does not go to a distant stratosphere. Our language may have metaphysical bids, but it has strong ontological bids, that is, it first describes an environment. For example, the Daedalus syndrome, the atmosphere, shopping malls, etc. I think you, @johnnydavis54 , probably would rather like William James’s Pragmatism, Ortega y Gasset’s Raciovitalism, Hegel, and Foucault’s utopian body. Pragmatism came exactly with a proposal: let’s stop thinking that the world has to be made of a substance, let’s take the world more pragmatic. It can be accepted as a variable set of relations. Instead of talking about things, let’s talk about relationships. Kant said that the thing itself is unattainable, the scholastic asked what is the thing? Darwinism asked what its origin? Does pragmatism ask what the consequences are? And this always brings thought to action and the future (Dewey’s utopia or Rorty’s hope). It is not the world that speaks, it is we who speak. Gasset will speak of the man conceived as existing and this does not separate from the world. But the body is a place that you are trapped. “Just wake up, I can not escape this place …” according to Foucault. I think this chapter would be well complemented by the passage of the Bible from Pilate and Jesus.


I agree. Here is another response about vocabulary. Globalization has become a neo-liberal buzz word, so I am suspicious about how it is used. Planeterization is an alternative idea that is trying to land somewhere. Here is a brief report on the uses of these words by a eco guy I like, Leonardo Boff.

John McWhorter, my favorite linguistics guy, gives a good talk on texting.

I notice that many of us of us here want to sort out the differences between social systems, media systems, and psychic systems. It is easy to get them all lumped together. I hope we start to develop these differences in some of our future hangouts. I am not getting much help from Sloterjdiik. I thought this book was about this search for differentiating different kinds of systems but now I’m not sure what this book is about. Globes is looking more and more like a handful of maps that he spilled a glass of red wine on and they got all stuck together and became unreadable but then again I imagine he may be demonstrating how all grand narratives are doomed for we are all about to drown in an epic bubble bath!


I assume you mean when Pilate washed his hands of the whole business. He may have done that because his wife had a bad dream. As a result of Pilate’s calculated political gesture, there are some who believe that the Romans didn’t kill Jesus, but that the Jews did it.

I do like James a lot, he is a hero of mine, and his philosophical writing is close to perfection. He is a masterful writer. I have some differences with Rorty ( but he writes well) and Foucault is a bit dated now but I admire them even when I disagree with them. I don’t agree with Davidson at all on what metaphors mean. I dont think he understands metaphor. Most recent research in Cognitive Linguistics deny that there is a literal meaning, all concepts arise out of embodied metaphors. I do believe the antidote to a dead metaphor is an alive metaphor. All metaphors reveal and conceal.That is a contentious area! I appreciate the wide range of authors you are bringing to the table. I am currently reading Derrida’s Telepathy . I do believe he had something to say but his style is annoying. Gassett I dont know at all but should like to. I do like Whitehead for he is a magnificent writer. Many good philosophers are bad writers ( Kant for example) and some are good writers and good philosophers ( Plato for example). Ideas are slipping and sliding all over the place and dont sit still and behave themselves. Over time they become something other than what they were becoming. But I do find the best philosophical writing deals with argument, footnotes, definintions, etc. Much writing coming from the academy is increasingly bad. This is what Nussbaum, a very clear philosopher, was pointing out.


Good article by Leonardo Boff. I really like the idea of “common home” - different rooms to be sure, privacy to be respected when requested, but taking care of the kitchen and bathrooms is everyone’s job…
I have (somehow!) managed to squeeze Dr Jennifer Gidley’s long but thought-provoking Integral Review article “The Evolution of Consciousness as a Planetary Imperative” into this week. (Re-reading the appendices, which would make great conversation topics themselves…) She also - among many other things including what is for me an overdue formal introduction to some of the thought of Rudolf Steiner - defends the idea of the “planetary” over contemporary visions (and nightmares) of “globalization”.

Ah, John McWhorter. Speaking of small worlds, waaaay back in the mid-1980s at Rutgers I was privileged to spend a year in the same dorm with that genius, a fact I recognized whenever I looked up from beer bottles and skirt-chasing long enough. (LOL!!!) We always knew he was going places; I forget how many languages he was already speaking then. This particular talk has been in my favorites for a long time.

Something in me says: hold that thought! I agree. Perhaps in the pre 9-11 world, “all grand narratives are doomed” is as far as he got? You mentioned you were looking at some of his subsequent work: anything useful so far?


Thanks for reminding me! I am a little behind on that desired outcome but you are helping me to stay on track.

What I am working on currently, which has something to do with Globes, is reading Bruce Clarke, who has done a lot of heavy lifting in Neo-Cybernetics and Narrative. He is differentiating mind, technology and society and untangling some of the messes we are getting into. Systems are biotic and some are abiotic ( like our computers). All of the confusion around AI comes from the tendency of our culture to off load our cognitive capacities ( ephemeral for sure) onto machines which have no cognitive capacity as they are abiotic. Systems that are abioitc are very different from systems that are biotic and we are living through some of those distortions that happens when we fail to differentiate and include.

Narratives are systems too that are hard to locate. Stories shape our cultural assumptions and so we tell ourselves stories about running out of stories, and Sloterrdiik seems to imply this. This would require that we accept myth making as what we are always doing as biotic systems, with sunrises, sunsets, and a desire for pizza and a good movie and our need to make certain kinds of sense in ways that an abiotic system doesn’t. So this t is taking up a lot of my time this week sorting all of this theory and meta-theory.

I do hope to get into a groove and sync all of this with Gidley’s paper which looks very interesting. Steiner was a genius who has been ignored, as has Gebser, by the Wilberians. I will read her paper with you and perhaps have a better handle on how to hold these integral impulses.

There is another good paper on Integral developments that Marco posted that is also of use and could possibly be read together with Gidley.
So with all of this as background I hope to have a healthy quarrel with Sloterjdiik. Globes is where many of us were in the late nineties pre-9/11. Now is the time to recognize the mythic as primary source of all our glory and our problems and step back from the post modern mess we have inherited from that era and that is still lingering like a bad hangover. We cant get rid of myths. That is like trying to shoot your self in the foot and try to run a relay race. But we need better narratives and and more sophisticated metaphors.

I just want to point out( from another post) that we are already making some self-reflexive moves. By looking back at the Cafe conversations over the last few months, and by reviewing our making sense with our map making, I can sense an embodied group dynamic. There is in each drawing we made a definite rhythm and this is very important to make these out of awareness rhythms concrete for we are ( as a collective) working with many kinds of rhythms which are co-specifying . I believe, this practice of comparing maps after languaging similar terms, is a corrective to the often passive sit back and watch stance that we humans love to do. But we are loosing our sense of agency and we are also running out of gas! How to ground theory and meta-theories is not easy when we are scattered around time zones and are using this technology in ways that have no diurnal rhythms. We are not designed for 24/7. We need to self correct. Maybe we can flesh this out in a future hang out? How do we bring some order to all of this mayhem?


I am reading Gidley and love her approach. In this this video she summarizes a lot of thinking on Post-formal reasoning, which she claims, is non binary reasoning. I agree, TJ, we could make this a future topic. Perhaps the timing is right to look at Sloterjdiik through an Integral lens?


Jennifer does have a fresh perspective that complements her smooth yet scrappy writing voice. Not many can claim to be a woman, mother, psychologist, educator and futures researcher. The introduction is a quick read. Do either of you @patanswer or @johnnydavis54 have a recommended reading list from The Evolution of consciousness as a Planetary Imperative? I think you mentioned Appendix C in yesterday’s Cafe, John.

In the video, she tosses out many names that can be considered the origins or roots of the transhumanist and the consciousness evolutionist “movements.” Nearly all of the mentioned are also listed in Beyond Physicalism’s “The Emergence of Evolutionary Panentheism.” I suppose if someone is considered a deep thinker in consciousness evolution they must also be considered a panentheist! or perhaps a German idealist. The essay is here and is also a “Season One Leftover” from our Cafe sessions. I like, too, that Micheal Murphy gives mention to Tillich. If he could shed the Christian Theologian title, Tillich would be right up there with the other thinkers.


I think so. The basic idea here is that we are completely immanent and completely transcendent. We are the patterns that connect and we are embedded in the matrix. Once we stop trying to exclusively transcend or descend we relax, relax, relax, and then relax some more. The neuromuscular lock down is loosened up and our gut heart and head harmonize, we then can respond to the world not as a thing out there but as a mysterious and rhythmic potency. Sri Aurobindo maps the vital and the etheric really well and I look forward to contrasting and comparing the Hindu tantric maps with the German Idealists. I think this would be a fascinating study. I support your efforts to bring forward Tillich. I read Courage to Be decades ago and so support you in your research projects. I want to balance depth with span. That is why collaborative research is such a pressing need. Hence, my interest in transdisciplinarity. I think Michael Murphy’s Future of the Body is a stunning book, and another variation on the Integral Theme. It is really an embarrassment of riches. The ancients had to travel over mountains and valley to get to a competent person who could help them with alternate ways of knowing. Now we have a different problem! There is simply no way to deal with even a small fraction of the wisdom in print, easily accessible. So it is important that we capture the high ground, keep moving and stay in touch with competent researchers! We can borrow from each others expertise and pool resources.


LOL. I’ve listened to him talk with Glen Loury a number of times. Talk about being at the top of your game, intellectually and academically, those two. They almost make me wish I had stayed in school! I like McWhorter’s dry humor most of all, though.

This sounds to me like the answer to your query above^^ re: bringing order to the mayhem; good advice.


There are times when the need to read large chunks of Sloterdijk in preparation for our online discussions confers sheer pleasure. Sitting in a restaurant sipping a good Merlot from a private reserve, eating a great meal, and working my way through Globes (in a cafe earlier, more slowly with the meal), listening to Bossa Nova… Ahhhh. Quel delice!


Avoiding rereading Chapter 7 to search for memorable morsels for tomorrow (made the mistake of reading directly after our last conversation…and have forgotten most of what was read :weary:) Instead enjoying getting to know this German author guy via recent articles.

This short interview provides some contemporary perspective to our latest reading:

Around midway through the interview is the relevant segment on “connected isolation” (after the “Pure Diversity” artwork image)…a notable quote:

The Riesman diagnosis of the lonely crowd describes the smaller half of the truth, at best. A large part of the energies of individuals living in conditions of connected isolation is used to establish informal “tribes” composed of friends, acquaintances or memberships in local associations via postal or other means of telecommunication. They make it possible for those living alone in their own space to escape from the idiochronic isolation of their dwellings and to share common time with their contemporaries through a network.

Listening to this as I type:

The reader of the piece is great, as is the writer…

Really liking this image of Sloterdijk on a bike:

The town (Karlsruhe) is also the birthplace of the inventor of the bicycle, an entrepreneurial baron named Karl von Drais—a fact that Sloterdijk, who loves cycling, cherishes. When I met him a few weeks after his birthday celebrations, he suggested riding into town to try a new steak restaurant. He talked about advances in bicycle design, which got him onto one of his favorite topics: inventors. “There are people who are all around us who have invented something essential,” he said. “There’s a man in Germany who invented the retractable dog leash. Can you imagine? Millions of people have them now. Of course, these leashes present an existential threat to me, since I’m an avid cyclist. Sometimes I’m riding fast and there’s an owner over there, and the dog over there, and in between—!”

We embarked. On his bike, Sloterdijk seemed massive. In the light wind, his plaid short-sleeved shirt became a billowing tube. The fusion of man and machine looked top-heavy and precarious, but his pedalling was strikingly efficient, unstrenuous yet powerful. From the chest up, he appeared no different from the way he does in a seminar room.

And this:

“The most interesting thing about Sloterdijk may not be anything particular he has written,” the Berkeley intellectual historian Martin Jay told me, “but simply the fact that he exists.”

And the final segment of the long-form essay:

Sloterdijk had come to speak at a local Protestant academy about the meaning of the Reformation. “Luther had the great fortune to be followed by Bach,” Sloterdijk told his audience. “His form of individualism was illuminated by the most beautiful music.”

“But he was also followed by Hitler!” a young man in the audience said.

“Hitler was a degraded Papist,” Sloterdijk shot back.

Little by little, the discussion gravitated to assaults on Sloterdijk’s positions. “You sound like the right-wingers when you speak of the refugees,” an elderly doctor stood up and declared. “We cared about refugees after the war and we can do it again.”

Sloterdijk replied impatiently. “The Americans gave us this idea of multiculturalism that suited their society fine, but which, as software, is not compatible with our German hardware of the welfare state,” he said. “There’s this family metaphor spreading everywhere: the idea that all of humanity is our family. That idea helped destroy the Roman Empire. Now we’re in danger of letting that metaphor get out of control all over again. People are not ready to feel the full pressure of coexistence with billions of their contemporaries.” He went on, “In the past, geography created discretionary boundaries between nations and cultures. Distances that were difficult to overcome allowed for mental and political space.” Space and distance, he argued, had allowed for a kind of liberality and generosity that was now under siege—by refugees, by social media, by everything.

At the end of the talk, the faithful of all ages lined up to buy copies of “After God.” The polite chatter momentarily gave way to the brisk ritual of book-signing. Sloterdijk scrawled on the open books offered to him. Bearing a freshly signed copy, a pastor visiting from the Rhineland sympathized with Sloterdijk’s predicament as a salesman. “We become more like America every day,” he told him. “Isn’t it a pity?” :diamonds:


Thank you for sharing the Washington Post article on Sloterdijk’s thoughts. (I’ll get to the other later.)

Samuel P Huntington (Clash of Civilizations (1996)) said similar things. A close reading reveals his concern to remind Americans in particular that lasting peace depends on leaving cultural space for differing, even at times incompatible, value systems in a multipolar world - i. e., good neighbors with good fences. That he is not as keen to defend this notion of diversity within his “civilizations” lends his thesis the air of calling for a world of armed camps, which is part of the controversy now attached to his name.

Sigh. Huntington’s book was only 300 pages… :smiling_imp:


Perhaps he explains it all in his new one Nach Gott (in English: After God - Experiments in Faith and Disbelief)…

The New Yorker essay above is a great 30 minute listen if you have the chance before tonight’s call. Also briefly mentions the new book.

from @jamieandhisego


Hello guys. I could not attend the discussion yesterday. I returned to the gym Monday after more than a year stopped. Yesterday I could barely move with a headache, but here’s a little of my contribution.Chapter 7.docx (38.0 KB)

1 Like

How about this, @Geoffrey_Edwards (and everyone)—a long-term project (for fun & profit)—but we’d have to read Foams eventually, and probably a few other books too.

After Sloterdijk

The Plural God Eats Donuts and Defecates Spheres

{ Notes from the Readers Underground }

I imagine a collaborative bricolage approach, incorporating poems, art, critical essays, wild experimental fragments, and whole conversations, which in a way raid Sloterdijk’s mausoleum of the Western Mind for all it’s worth, but then totally reconstellate its contents (adding much else of our own) in a plenum of visionary, planetary, cosmic, earthly, playful, logically rigorous (in 5D) reconstitutions of the living divine.

Or something like that…just riffing. We could be cheeky, too. :blush:

PS. Thanks for the notes, @Eduardo_Rocha. It looks like we’re already working on the book. :smile: