As fate would have it, I found some time and a bit of opportunity to take a closer look at Raschke’s paper. I feel I gave it serious consideration; there is not a page on which I didn’t mark some text or make an annotation in the margins. I had originally intended to write a more detailed response, but at 1,000 words in, I realized that I couldn’t do that to you folks, so I’m taking a completely different approach.
For me – and this is a personal impression – Raschke likes Sloterdijk so much because they are in many ways very much alike: they often tend to hyperbole, are not adverse to stretching or fabricating details to serve their authorial purposes, and there’s just enough arrogance strewn about to put off well-intentioned but reluctant readers like myself. Be that as it may, Raschke did manage to put enough in there that I think I do understand Sloterdijk a bit better, but he also managed to raise a number of nascent questions that I’m going to need to have addressed (I’ve long given up on having my questions “answered”) in the not-too-distant future.
So, on the one hand, some not-so-helpful statements (all emphases mine):
“Sloterdijk has never been simple to pin down as to how he is really deploying both barrels of the shotgun of philosophical ‘investigation’ itself.” (p. 2)
“Sloterdijk’s method, when apparent, …” (p. 2)
“Sloterdijk […] propound[s] a thesis that will not sit well with the university-based philosophical establishment, but justifies in a sophisticated way the underlying trend that was [sic] been long underway in the humanities as a whole: the ‘interdisciplinary’ triumph of theory. Philosophy is [emphasis in the original] theory, Sloterdijk maintains […].” (p. 3)
"[Sloterdijk’s] approach to philosophy not only confounds the consensus of standard average academic discourse, […] it also opens philosophy and theory to the singularity of what we would otherwise valorize – theoretically – as the religious.“ (p. 4)
“What we would call globalization through the dissemination of pure signs offers an opportunity – and a revolutionary one at that – to ‘world’ a rehumanized world that is the realm of meaning-creation.” (p. 6)
“Postmodernist ‘difference’, if we read Mignolo for his more convert intent rather than his actual enunciation, can be viewed with a jaundiced eye as simply a hypertrophied version of the modernist system of epistemic classifications and inferential protocols that not only made empirical science possible, but also led to the facial stereotyping and colonial assumptions concerning the ‘superiority’ of certain forms of culture and knowledge.” (p. 8)
No.s 1 and 2 reflect what I’ve been saying all along: I’m not sure anybody is clear on what Sloterdijk is up to.
RE No. 3, I don’t understand that whole “theory” thing. I simply don’t get what Raschke is saying here.
As for No.s 4, 5, and 6, well, I understand all the words, but I really don’t know what I’m being told. There are more such passages, but I don’t want to overstay my welcome in this regard. Maybe someone can tell me what I’m missing.
On the other hand, there were a couple of statements made that helped make some things clearer for me, and these come in Raschke’s finale, the last paragraph where he writes (again, all emphases (but not foreign words) are mine):
I stumble over the theory that does not allow us to comprehend or understand (a subtle distinction that went right over my head), that really isn’t a theory at all. So I’m left where I was at the beginning: not really knowing where I was at all. I can only thank my lucky stars Raschke was there to at least point that out to me. Then, he continues, still speaking of the “Spheres” opus in toto (but with particular emphasis on volume 3):
Which makes me want to think he’s saying something important, but I can’t escape the feeling that he’s playing now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t with “theory” and using the mixed metaphors at the end as some clever sleight-of-hand. But, of course, I’m most likely just too thick to recognize – again – the brilliance with which I’m being blessed. I’m not feeling the catharsis, and the only feelings of “fear and horror” I had were that he’d go on for a few pages more. It was, for me at least, a good place to end.
And so, I think we see that I just don’t “get it”. There was too much in there that I just didn’t grok. I’m waiting for our philosopher-in-residence, Marco, to perhaps sort things out and deftly point to where I’m going wrong. (Later note: not in an absolute sense, but rather, helping discern what is, say, more “classical” philosophic from what may more modern/postmodern/??-modern, and what difference the differences may make. It’s not an absolute request, but more of a plea for a pointer or two that could help resolve some of the confusion.)