I’m going to be promoting our reading group over the next couple weeks via various social media channels. In addition to sharing about the group itself, I’d like to post some articles, short essays, and reviews about Peter Sloterdijk and his books. Particularly, I’m looking for articles that provide a good introduction for people unfamiliar with his work.
Here is a good example:
If you have or can find some others, please share them below!
As well, if you have time to help with promotion, please feel free to share our sign-up page with your friends and networks—or get in touch with me if you can help with managing any of our social media accounts (Facebook, Twitter, G+, etc).
Here is a fairly critical review in German, published in 2004 after the release of the last volume. Its written by Richard David Precht who himself has become a widely known public intellectual and media personality. Since some people do speak German here I thought I could post it.
Thanks to @justcallmetony who was kind enough to share this interesting article.
I’m fairly certain that the number of German speakers in the group, however, is rather small. I took the liberty of making a rather quick-and-dirty translation of the text so that others could enjoy it (or not).
If Carl Raschke is right, then we were presented with a buffet table - and even a wobbly ontology - in Bubbles for a reason.
It crossed my mind that Precht’s assessment of Sloterdijk as creative, playful, but in the end insubstantial and Rashcke’s appreciation of “spherology” as metaphor for the unavoidable nature of a priori elements preceding all ‘worlding’ might both be true…
[Edit:@achronon - My initial reaction to the title “…‘First Philosopher’ of Globalization” was “Oh, really…???” LOL!]
All you folks had your holiday yesterday. As Thanksgiving isn’t a holiday anywhere in this country except for maybe in the Mahood household, we weren’t able to get the family all together until today (well, except for my step-son, daughter-in-law, and grandson … both mom and dad couldn’t get off work), the day has been spent cooking and eating. (I’m chief cook-and-bottle-washer on Thanksgiving and Christmas, as we have turkey and all our special family trimmings … but my oldest daughter is the baker.) Time has been limited, to say the least.
Nevertheless, I only managed to skim the Raschke paper. It’s going to take a bit for me to get through it in detail (as I’m going to have to print it out and read it … I can’t handle any more than about five pages online … even though I can read ebooks when necessary, I just don’t like it all that way).
My first reaction was very much like yours, for I have, you should know, very strong feelings about the notion of “globalization”. My first reaction when I hear "philosopher/philosophy of " is, oh, so this person is going to make clear to me why this is a good thing. For Kant, “reason” was a fundamental good, if you will; for Collingwood, questioning and the search for irreducible presuppositions is a good; for Popper the method of falsification in science was a good; that is, you make a case for whatever it is. It is very possible of course that I am all wet and that’s not what that phrase means at all, but I suppose I’ll only know once I get into it more. For me, the notion has always been a primarily economics-related concept; it certainly is in its general understanding. The only other text he mentions that I have read is Hardt & Negri which I found unmemorable, not because I’m anti-Marx, but because it suffered from that same lack of substance that I feel when I read anything that even smacks of postmodernist ramblings. It is always so hard, for me at least, to put my finger on just what it is they’re trying to tell me. I know lots of people love 'em, but I suppose I’m just too thick or dense or stuffy or something to appreciate them. So, for me, if Raschke is trying to re-appropriate the concept for philosophical purposes, it will no doubt be an uphill struggle; but I’m guessing from your teaser, he’s all hot under the collar about Sloterdijk resolving that Gordion knot, so I’ll be sure to put on my hiking boots before reading.
I’ve had various holiday related activities these past few days, but got to skim the essay, like Ed, and will have to print it out for a fuller read.
I think the angle of regarding Sloterdijk as a kind of phenomenologist is a useful one, and is probably important more generally for “getting” what the postmodernists are up to, even if they do go off the deep end.
The key coming from Husserl is in the idea of “bracketing the world.” This was his crude way of setting aside the subject/object representational paradigm—which Heidegger recast as “being-in-the-world”—but basically means the experience of reality before we create a theoretical (objectively falsifiable) version of it.
“To the things themselves!” was Husserl’s concept-byte (to lift a phrase from the essay). Even deconstruction could be seen as way of getting to the Ding an sich via the path of negation.
Sloterdijk is doing phenomenology in a literary way, I think. It’s not that the “globe” of “globalization” is objectively real, but that it’s a complex, nuanced, historically conditioned structural dimension of the story of our experience living in a “global” civilization. Sloterdijk’s method, perhaps, is to induce us to see this better.
The notion that Sloterdijk is a “philosopher of globalization” is an unfortunate misreading (and sad attempt at a concept-byte) in my opinion—contradicted by Raschke’s more interesting reference to Sloterdijk’s aversion to “commitment philosophy,” which is evident (as we’ve remarked upon!) in the aristocratic tenor of his relation to historical struggle.
At least, that’s how I’m coming to see it. Did you catch the “golden ball” (from the Prologue to Globes)?
I am reminded of Nietzsche’s remarks about The Will to Power—not the posthumously compiled notebooks, but the work he had in mind. He called it:
A book for thinking, nothing else; it belongs to those for who me thinking is a delight, nothing else.—
Agree or disagree, I do think some similar ethic or sentiment underlies Sloterdijk’s own way of doing philosophy.
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.)
I’ve really lost it now … I’m replying to my own posts. I hope I don’t get too overbearing with myself.
Just a thought … for a future (hopefully not-too-distant) café, but somewhere between now and Aurobindo (just a time-related, not content related, arbitrarily chosen marker for “not-to-distant”) we could have a “seminar” on postmodern-speak or postmodern-write or whatever that is.
I’m serious: I’d really like to know why I can’t follow this stuff. My denseness – or whatever it is – is starting to get on my own nerves.
Hehehe. My own “fence-sitting” summarized…
If I read Sloterdijk as a “gallery of images”, I enjoy the exhibit and learn new things. If I read Sloterdijk as an “argument” - as the introductory sections of both books so far invite me to do - I have the frustration of being lost in what teasingly seems to be familiar territory.
It’s obvious – and I readily admit – I’m reading the “argument”. But …
Why the gallery of images if that’s not what I’m being told it is? That’s my now-you-see-it-now-you-don’t moment. What is the advantage for me, the reader? What’s the general advantage; that is, just how does that help the world sort itself and become a better place?
Whereby, I learn new things with every new experience, including being told this and seeing that. But why the disconnect? Is there something more? Or, am I being made a fool of? Would I know? And should I intuit?
(I was struck by how often the word “leverage” – a very 90s’, greed-is-good vocab --appeared in the Raschke paper. I was more struck by how often the notion of “ethics” was mentioned as well. So, what are the ethics of saying this and doing that? In my stuffy, curmudgeony world, we called that hypocrisy, but I’m surely being too harsh.)