Sloterdijk shows great reverance and respect for Diogenes. Diogenes, though, was a curmudgeon. Both are considered to be – at least by the rest of us – philosophers. It would therefore appear safe to assume that curmudgonry is an acceptable philosophic method. So, with that in mind ...
The subtitle of the current focus of our attention in German is Blasen. As any lexicon will tell you, the word means "bubbles", to be sure, but it is also the word used for "blisters".
My two-year-old grandson loves blowing and chasing bubbles. Almost every day when he gets home from kindergarten he tells whomever will listen that it's time for bubbles again. We adults are enthralled and enlivened by his giggling, laughing, springing and jumping; such a joyful pasttime ... until it comes time to clean up the sticky, slimy goo the bubbles leave behind. But that only affects us adults, who are strangely not as thrilled and excited about bubble-blowing as the little fella.
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.
Diogenes apparently wanted his truth straight up. I, personally, prefer mine neat (make a statement, present your evidence, draw your conclusions and let me be impressed, fooled or disappointed). Oh sure, I realize that in this age of infotainment a bit of enjoyment, even humor, would not be out of place, but hiding it in the rather dense bushes of evidence-free generalizations (as Raymond Tallis calls them) reminds one more of misguided parents than the good ol' Easter Bunny who was more about finding than hiding. Who wants to play a game in which there are no rewards other than winning?
Let me tell you: I love that @madrush has found (and was able to find) so many personal links to the text. That, dear fellow readers, is poetically, and personally, profound ... and so should it be. It is also a psychological fact of life that our feelings tell us what to think. Most of us are not accustomed to seeing things that way, even though that is the reality that, as much as I hate to admit, is empirically grounded. Stated succinctly, objective distance may be impossible to find. This doesn't mean that we shouldn't seek it. It only means that perhaps we shouldn't stake too much on finding it. Curmudgeons, it should be remembered, being by nature, somewhat less affectively driven – the caring curmudgeon is a rare creature indeed – tend to take a more sober view of things, alleged philosophical texts included. So, where he can state:
"A 'metaphysics of wholeness,' is perhaps one way to characterize this work. But I also like that he describes his project as a "love story," and sees that the process of sphere-formation itself is essential, not the ultimate final form a sphere may take. Life itself is a matter of sphere-formation. It's not just an "idea," but phenomenologically real." (cf. pp. 10-11 of English translation)
Here, the curmudgeon asks himself: what does "phenomenologically real" mean (even in this limited context)? And, also: how/why/in what way is sphere-formation itself "essential" – whereby, purely geometrically (that is, in the sense that Sloterdijk himself holds as paramount, cf. opening statements in the "Preliminary Remarks"), as I understand it, a sphere has only one ultimate and can take one and only one form. I mean, why a "sphere" and not, say, a tetrahedron? And, what is more, according to Sloterdijk this notion – the sphere – has a venerable philosophic tradition. So why is it that I, admittedly a philosophical layman (but not philosophically naive), have never heard of this tradition? What am I being told? If you ask me, we're getting damn near the roots of being (if there is such a thing) and I'm being told, I think, if you haven't grasped this sphere-thing, you've simply been wasting your time. Have I? I certainly don't lead a model life, I'm not envied by the masses, to be sure, but I like to think – delusional as it may be – that I've managed relatively well in spite of it all ... or have I?
And so, the curmudgeon asks again: are we talking about (a) philosophical truth here or are we dealing with an image that supposedly points toward philosophic truth (for as Gebser made very clear, to me at least, all philosophy is speaking about truth, it is not speaking truth, which is what eteology is all about) ... (at which point I heartfeltedly apologize to all of you reading this who have not read Gebser, for that is a reference that only those who participated in the "Winter of Origins" reading group, or who may have read Gebser otherwise, may recognize)?
To use the Zen metaphor: are we dealing with the moon or the finger?
I'm not saying, I'm just saying.