Preliminary Note – What are your first impressions?

Let me begin by saying that I was attracted to reading Bubbles, initially, just because I liked the name. A philosophical work called “Bubbles,” on the face of it, was intriguing and delightful to me.

It’s worth noting that a bubble is a concrete image. Unlike 99% of of philosophical metaphysical concepts (e.g., Being, Will, Consciousness, Spirit, the Good, Integral, etc.) a bubble can be visualized. A bubble suggests an array of primordial, sensory experiences that don’t need to be intellectually defined to become sensible. Of course, this is what poetry does! So immediately, I know that I’m being invited into a different kind of thinking, where the nonverbal (“magic”) is not just used to “illustrate” but is primary.

A bubble, of course, also suggests something incredibly ephemeral—a trembling membrane that’s bound to burst. So with the intimate spherical space implied is also an intuition of time, or in Buddhist terms, impermanence (annica).

At the same time, a sphere is an untimely phenomenon, insofar as a bubble creates its own time outside of time—an inner time. Sloterdijk paints this picture beautifully in the Introduction, with the image of the child on the balcony blowing soap bubbles, his awareness floating along with his inspired (literally, “breathed into”) creations.

Reading those pages confirmed my initial attraction to the book.

What most interested me in the “Preliminary Note” (pp. 9–13) was Sloterdijk’s resuscitation of Plato’s conception of a perfect form to which we, as virtuous humans, via self-transcending love (eros) aspire. What an unpopular idea!

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.

“Life is a matter of form—that is the hypothesis we associate with the venerable philosophical and geometric term “sphere.” It suggests that life, the formation of spheres and thinking are different expressions for the same thing.” pp. 10–11.

On a personal note, I recall that Plato’s Symposium was the first book I read in my very first philosophy class in college, “Philosophy of Love and Sexuality,” with the late great Professor M.C. Dillon‚ so I’m realizing, in these opening pages, that this book might in some way symbolize a “return to form” on a micro-scale as well.

A further personal note: when I met my wife we often referred to our “inspired spatial communion” as a “sphere.”

In other words, the word feels very natural to me. And yet, we need not be stuck with Platonism:

“I will only remain on the trail of Platonic references in the sense that I will develop, more obstinately than usual, the hypothesis that love stories are stories of form, and every act of solidarity is an at of sphere formation, that is to say the creation of an interior.” – p. 12

And now in my life with Cosmos, and with this very reading group, I realize that I’m (and we’re) creating an “interior.”

And finally, I’ll note that I find it really interesting, and even beautiful, that so nimbly in this Preliminary Note, Sloterdijk reclaims the notion of “transference” from its psychotherapeutic reductionist minimization as something that’s “wrong” with us (always a substitute, never the real thing), into a natural feature of the essential thing, what we do as humans.

It’s what moves the love story forward, after all…

What about you, dear @spheres readers? What are your initial impressions of (or transference projections into) the book, and these first pages?


A post was merged into an existing topic: Why interested in Sloterdijk and what do you bring to the discussion?

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.


From the vantage point of page 81, I can decisively say I’m on the fence. (LOL)
The books will either prove to be a magnificent example of what Gebser would call systasis (integrating presentation rather than philosophical explanation) or a profound mastery of obvious things. If the former - Sloterdijk’s cordial invitation of the reader into the playful literary bubble he creates does make for a kind of “being-in-truth” experience - then Richard David Precht’s 2004 review (cited in another thread here) misses the essence. But if the latter then 2500 pages is overkill, however engagingly written; I have yet to encounter a student of any of the humanities or social sciences who is unaware that a defining characteristic of man is as maker of physical and metaphysical interior spaces wherever s/he lives.
The good thing about initial impressions is they are just that. The day is young and I know I will enjoy the ride no matter what. Onward…

[I also apologize for all Gebser references made and to be made.) :smile:


When I heard about how Sloterdijk puts forward a “philosophy of space,” that’s what really intrigued me. As a fan of Whitehead and Bergson, the philosophy of time has always fascinated me. The idea of giving a similar treatment to space and intersubjectivity was too much to resist. So far, I’m really liking it. The concept that intersubjective encounter involves not only a relation, but a sphere with its own filter and immune system seems like a really interesting and novel way to approach the subject. I’ve found some interesting parallels with Gebser in the way he approaches faciality and the depiction of time. Really looking forward to seeing where he goes with this.


First Impressions of Bubbles

  1. The importance of breath - one of the aspects of bodily experience that is undervalued and often misunderstood ; Sloterdijk places it front and centre
  2. A philosophy of being(s) in space - my academic expertise is in things to do with space (astrophysics, geomatics, mobility), so this is a sure win for me. Have been looking for years for a deeper embodied theory of space with practical implications
  3. Co-immunity - a moral stance. Another key concept of Sloterdijk which allows us to rethink the relationship between secular and non-secular ethics in new and interesting ways
  4. Medieval thinking - Sloterdijk not only understands that our ways of thinking have changed fundamentally over the centuries, he puts this understanding to work by harnessing the radically different Medieval-think in his argument. Just as he argues we should update our life history to include our time in the womb, so he updates his portrayal of contemporary life by including our society’s time in the womb of history
  5. Exposition via metaphor - like all the modern philosophers, he grapples with the nonlinearity of embodied philosophy ; he does so through metaphorical and playful arguments rather than Deleuzes rhizomatic or Whitehead’s mathematical formulations

That’s a start!


I can see you now, @achronon, grumbling at the kids with their damn sticky, soap bubbles to get off the lawn!

I have the feeling we’re dealing with a matter of taste, and aesthetic. (Which as we know, there’s no accounting for.)

But it strikes me as a difference between modes of levitas and gravitas. From an ever-present origin to evanescent manifestations…

I mean, you either sort of like bubbles or you don’t. And maybe you’re a tetrahedron kind of guy. Just let me play with my legos, go blow your sloppy spheres you know where!

Well, what would childhood be without grumpy ol’ curmudgeons and burst bubbles?

Sloterdijk does write, on page 62 of the translation, “On the largest scale, the theory of spheres leads into a critique of round reason.” Lol. So there’s hope yet!


Agreed, for even my ol’ buddy Julius (Caesar) used to love to remind me, de gustibus non disputandum.

But to bring us a notion that Gebser used to like to toss about: we’re also dealing with “intensities” in a sense, as in when too much of a good thing (say, cherry-pie filling … with a tip o’ the hat to @Josepha) can become bad, and I wouldn’t be the first to raise nausea to a philosophical notion.

At this particular point in time, though, I have to hope that your hope for hope is well-founded: Just what the heck is “round reason”? :innocent:


I enjoyed the introduction and I have read the second chapter. I like the contrast between Ever Present Origin and Bubbles. I believe somewhere that Gebser discusses the movement from point to line to triangle to circle to sphere-or maybe I’m just remembering something that didn’t happen but that could have happened if I had been paying better attention. The antidote to suffering is beauty and there is much beauty in the text of Bubbles and the art work, too. An elegant display, and I had a dream about bubbles recently which amused me greatly.

After watching the discussion I had a strong reaction that is hard to put into words, a relief that good, smart people from different places are finding a forum, and also a strong feeling of disconnection, simultaneously. The aesthetics of relationships are carried by voice, face, gesture, décor, kitchen cabinets,books on shelves, pictures on walls ( I like the Brains print that Marco has on his wall-is that new?) and there is an intimacy of course that developes with so many fine minds active together -but I have a nagging feeling of ongoing discontent. The discussion was delivered by a medium that seems to re-traumatize even as we are trying to undo the mixed messages of that neo liberal regime, a regime that Sloterdijk is aware of .

Enough has been said about mirror neurons and I believe we are ripe for a newer biological theory and the Polyvagal seems to be the one that resonates with Bubbles the most. There is a shift happening in our Autonomic Nervous system as the old fight, flight, flee dynamics are being hooked up with a more sophisticated hip parasympathetic response, that rides on the vagus nerve, and connects from heart to the face. The face is a profoundly sophisticated communication system. The coordination between face and heart ( the social engagement system) is in jeopardy as our present living arrangements are dampening the feed back between face to face encounters.

Jane Jacobs said what holds civilization together is the sidewalk. As strangers pass one another they smile and nod. They see and feel something about the other, a transmission happens. That I fear is disappearing. As I live in Manhattan, and cross the path of many strangers, we are not smiling, or nodding our heads at each other. Everyone seems to be staring or screaming into an electronic device, undercover agents are at every corner, cameras are picking up your every move-

More about the Polyvagal Theory, which might be useful when reading Bubbles-


Good to hear from you again, sir; I was wondering where you’ve been.

No, you were paying vey good attention … Gebser does just that. And, as fate would have it, Marco and I ended up online by ourselves after the last Bubbles conversation, and we talked about that sphere, since it is, at least conceptually associated with what Gebser discusses. Nevertheless, as I mentioned to Marco, this step of Gebser’s is, I believe his weakest. The image of sphere he chose always seemed out of place to me, and here’s why:

Though geometrically not 100% accurate, we can nevertheless think the progression from point onward as an progressive increase in dimensionality; in geometric terms, a turn of 90 degrees, so to speak. This all works very well till we come to the third dimension, generally understood cubically (cf. the Cartesian coordinate system) the sphere, when all is said and done, remains a three-dimensional object. The question that poses itself is how do we visualize/conceptualize/imagine a turn of 90 degrees from a cube (i.e., three-dimensional space)? Einstein thought that time could serve this purpose and it is indeed helpful.

If we consider an apple, for example, as it is relatively spherical in shape, and we consider the apple by, say, looking down through its calyx (that little bud-like thing on the “bottom”) back to its stalk (what we in everyday life call the “stem”) we realize that over time the point of the sprout becomes the sphere of the apple. It’s sort of like the sphere of the apple unfolds, through time, to become the object that we perceive and encounter. It is not hard to imagine that unfolding and re-enfolding vortex growing as the apple comes to life, so to speak. In other words, there is a whole lot of becoming involved in the sphericality of the apple, and it could be – I’m merely thinking out loud again – that gives it its 4th dimensionality. There is not just form (a very central notion for Sloterdijk) defining a container, but also a process essentially inherent in the phenomenon we experience. This is very different, at least in my mind, from the givenness, the presupposed reality of the Sloterdijkian sphere. His bubbles move as well, that is true, but not in and of themselves or by themselves they are moved by external forces and enough of them bumping together (I can’t help but think of Newton’s billiard-ball universe … an image that is now more particularly (see above) than generally valid, but nevertheless useful in its proper contexts) you get foam. I’m missing the action of the agents involved.

Now, I know that we like to think we are living in any number of post-whatever worlds, and the notion of the post-Einsteinian universe has even appeared in these forums, but I’m not sure what that really means. Much of our physics is so-called post-Newtonian, but it is precisely Newtonian physics that allows us to develop self-driving vehicles and explore the inner reaches of outer space. In other words, it is real, viable, and essential for our survival. Likewise, Einstein and Addington were fairly well convinced that the shape of the universe itself was not spherical (which is how many of us laypeople tend to conceptualize it), rather it actually took the form of a 2-torus, which is reality is a kind of doughnut (take a plane, roll it into a tube, then connect the ends of the tube (which gets us through the point-line-plane-solid stuff)), but with an infinitely small hole in the center. It would “look” like a sphere, but it is not a sphere in reality. It can also be thought of as a kind of smoke-ring, ever in motion, ever folding in on itself, which ultimately gives it its stability. There is a continual enfolding and unfolding a constant movement, some kind of process that implies, at least to me, the notion of agency (which I mentioned above, I’m still looking for in Sloterdijk).

My point is, there is a distinct possibility that this is reality (even if our experience of it is otherwise, just as our experience tell us the earth is flat, though we “know” (even if we don’t always acknowledge) that it’s a kind of sphere). That doesn’t go away in a post-Einsteinian universe any more than the laws of motion go away in a post-Newtonian one. We still find ourselves wherever we are trying to make sense of what we experience as life. So while Sloterdijk’s bubble image is in fact nice, I’m not convinced yet that it is anything more than another image which attempts to help us get our heads wrapped around things we may be able to grasp more directly and maybe more effectively via other routes. (Though I very much appreciate Phillipa’s reticence when it comes to things mathematical and topological … it can turn a lot of people off, but that mathematical/topological aspect is certainly not Sloterdijk’s approach, at least not as far as I can see.)

Blake saw the universe and eternity in a grain of sand. Apples sort of do it for me, and unlike sand, I can injest them to perpetuate the motion and dynamic I like to associate with life and I sense is in progress, at least for a time.


“His bubbles move as well, that is true, but not in and of themselves or by themselves they are moved by external forces and enough of them bumping together (I can’t help but think of Newton’s billiard-ball universe … I’m missing the action of the agents involved.”

Wow Ed that is lot to absorb and I offer a few random, messy thoughts that may have something to do with your own musings. I don’t pretend to know where he is going with this metaphor but I kind of like it even as you say it has it’s limitations. Physics is not the level he seems to be playing with, He seems to be looking more at the intersubjective matrix formation and for that purpose I tend to like the idea of spheres and foams but like every metaphor it conceals and reveals.

More questions about agency. I’m a bit confused. Various rhythms, circadian, ultradian and diurnal are moving us around and my sense of agency is not involved as I am more acted upon by forces beyond my control. I feel hungry or sleepy or want a glass of water but I know little about the constraints imposed by biology except when I stub my toe or have a hard time catching my breath when I climb the stairs. This to me is more biological and fluid than theories of physics allow although I appreciate the quandary about the status of the observer in quantum physics I’m a bit of a wanderer when physics is talked about but I like talk about pictures and movies and poems and this seems to be what Sloterdijk is pretty good at. He is into abductive, lateral moves, analogical as someone pointed out.

As we project our shape with an inside and an outside onto just about everything including our abstract categories, this tendency becomes addictive. The tendency to project non consciously the container metaphor, as we move along through many of kinds embodied scenarios, as we construct our theories and maps, relying upon what Lakoff and Johnson would call image schemas, that are hard wired, we get into paradoxes and impasses. It is likely that in non ordinary states of consciousness ( trance, meditation, OBEs, near death experiences) these image schemas get deconstructed, and the effects can be painful as Blake and many visionary poets demonstrate.

I think this is what Sloterdijk is playing with, the prepersonal and transpersonal edges, how they form, how interact. He assumes a mother/child dyad as primary but I have a few doubts about that.

The baby pays attention to mama until about the sixth month and then she pays attention to daddy and mama. Her attention moves from one parent to the other parent so the dyad becomes a triad very soon. The baby feels the frown and the smile or the blank look of a parent’s face as if it was happening on her own face, even though she may not even have knowledge that she has a face at all. She even starts pointing her finger at processes around her to get attention of the parents. We are fields within fields and I’m not sure bubbles work for this or not. We are bubbles but we are more than bubbles and we do more than just float or get popped.

We are very far from billiard balls in a Newtonian framework, as valuable as that might be for engineering certain kinds of events. I’m jumping ahead to the next chapter and I think he does a good job of articulating that slippery slope between bubble formations. How does transfers of affect/information happen? How do we figure out who is zooming who? The face is a communication system that is connected to the vagus nerve which is connected to the heart and organs which cant be seen but can be felt-and then what happens next, after many decades of doing the human thing?

Many I believe have had enough of the human morphogenetic field and are ready to move on (those many worlds are ever present) and before we drop one cosmology for another we will need motifs from the current cosmology to make that transition happen. Most of us will not make that transition unless we have to. Sorry for the long winded nature of these musings as I bring my own stuff to the party and hope someone else will bring something too. I’m sure if we get to the end of this book we will be glad we took the time to try to put it all on the table.

I’m reminded of an anecdote by Rumi about an embryo sleeping in the womb. A voice tells the embryo that beyond the womb there are people and places and mountains and oceans and planets and stars. And the embryo says," You got to be kidding."


This is the essence of the agency of which I spoke: yes, we are faced with innumerable constraints and limitations, we are buffeted by all sorts of external forces and circumstances, but we humans are nevertheless selves who choose to act in reaction to as well as in spite of them.

It may be that Sloterdijk handles stories, movie and poetry better than he handles science, but it was Sloterdijk himself who opened that door with his declaration that he was going to develop a science of the sphere (i.e., spherology). After the first section of reading we have less science than in the preliminary remarks and a more imagery (now hearts, not spheres), which is certainly fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t square well with his own declared purpose. And now I’ve read the next scheduled chunk, and he doesn’t even use the word sphere more than about half-a-dozen times in 60 pages (all in everyday, banal ways, and four times on one page) and the one time he does use it in regard to his “science”, it made me wonder what he’s really up to.

You have pointed out that perhaps he starts doing a better job of this in the next chapter, and in our online discusison John reiterated that much becomes clearer in volume 3. This may be true, but how am I to really know (what convinces me) that he is really going to deliver? In other words, I find myself reading this text now and would like to understand it before moving on to the next, if in fact I finish this one or move on to the next one at all. With all due respect to his agile associativeness, I don’t think it’s too much to expect a little clarity.

Let me say, perhaps unnecessarily, but seriously, that I appreciate your musings. They get me thinking of things that I’m sure I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. But as were my ruminations, they are all a bit distant from the text itself. I am fairly confident that I am understanding how the majority of the group feels about Sloterdijk’s text, but I’m less confident that I understand precisely what those feelings are based upon. I do see the lightness, airyness and playfulness of bubbles, and even spheres, for that matter, but there is also a lot of darkness, division, and maybe even derision in the text that is never mentioned. To be fair, there hasn’t so far been much discussion of the text itself, we’ve been more or less only talking around the text.

Perhaps the next online conversation will shed more light on all this.


“I do see the lightness, airyness and playfulness of bubbles, and even spheres-,”

And when, Ed, you do see the lightness, airiness and playfulness, is there anything else about playfulness?"

" there is also a lot of darkness, division, and maybe even derision in the text-"

And when a lot of darkness, division, and maybe even derision in the text what would you like to have happen?"

As a close reader of a text, and a student of hermeneutics, I observe, Ed, how you use language in your own way, with your own unique associations. I appreciate that we may be far away from the text and being so attracted to allusions it is a wonder that the same text can trigger such a wide range of associations

When I’m reading at my best I’m like Johnny Weissmuller, in an old Tarzan movie, flying through the jungle, leaping from tree to tree, grabbing the next branch with perfect timing, dipping into water, swimming fast, staying focused on the goal, to rescue someone, or to relay an important message-

I assume when you are reading at your best that you are doing something else, and equally valid, and knowing that we are all at our best in different and sometimes complimentary ways can make a group reading so much more complex than when reading a text by ourselves.

So keep those objections, Ed, and articulate them even better, as that will enlarge my own map of this jungle of words, tangled roots, so easy to trip and fall and end up in a ditch- .


Great analogy, Johnny, even if the vines I’m swinging on tend to snap and I find myself doubled over a branch below. :dizzy_face:

(Oh, and BTW, fun fact: I don’t know if you ever visited Universal Studios, but the “jungle” in which all those Tarzan scenes was filmed is in fact a mere 50-ft wide grove of trees. Dontcha love Hollywood?)


Very funny, Ed, and I do love the Hollywood of my youth, the old Tarzan flicks in black and white, the old Betty Davis movies, with the glamour and wit. I think some of that sense of the absurd helps when reading an ironist like Sloterdijk.

You know he said in an interview that although his speaking voice is baritone, that like Nietzsche, he wrote like a tenor. .I think that is very suggestive. I don’t think like Frederich that he is a helden tenor. I think he is more Italianate. And much more lyrical. Its a set up for the high notes!


I put down the book for a good week while preoccupied with other matters, and just started up again on the Preliminary Reflections and Chapter 1, ahead of our next call…so my reflections here will remain preliminary as well.

And I will confess, I am starting to feel some of Ed’s frustrations with Sloterdijk’s “cheekiness,” but only insofar as I compare it to a perhaps ‘deeper’ thinker (more gravitas, less levitas) such as Gebser (or even Heidegger) who in their major works proceed in a much more methodical manner, less given to humor and play, but more substantial-feeling overall.

I grant the limitations of the ‘spheres’ metaphor, and yet also wish to appreciate what it lets us think about, and how. I can’t imagine Sloterdijk really meant this to be an absolutist image, though in one or two places he plays on that edge (self-consciously, I think).

Clearly, if we have a spherology, we also need a toroidology, and some kind of field studies, not to mention a general theory of dimensionality. The actor-network theory of Latour would seem to complement these approaches as well. And I’m curious about the polyvagal theory that John has introduced, and look forward to learning more about it.

However, I think it might be fruitful to think of a sphere less in terms of a 3D geometric space, and more in terms of the lived experience of innerness and intimacy—

What it’s like, and what it means, to be inwith. Which is a particular aspect of life (but not the whole of reality). This is what I think Sloterdjik is really talking about (at least in these opening pages), not so much about the properties of the objective shape.

Glad you’re joining us for the reading, @johnnydavis54! And Ed, I always appreciate your thoughts; your “stress-testing” of the concepts we’re engaging with here is good!


Your contrast, Marco, between levitas and gravitas is a good one, and certainly one we need to keep in mind while reading this tome. And I think – well, maybe “hope” would be a better word – that in and with are the central features of Sloterdijk’s imagery, rather than, let us say, the cool objectivity of the sphere as geometrical feature.

But still, it was Mr. Sloterdijk, by his own admission, yea, proclamation, that he was developing a science of spheres, so if that is really not his intent nor desire, then that is a bit more than being cheeky with his readers: it’s not fulfilling his part of the unwritten deal that authors conclude with their readers (and I trust we can leave Barthes and his ilk out of this for now).

On the other hand, Lewin and his colleagues did develop a field theory which has fallen into I believe undeserved obscurity these days, but it is part of that psychoanalytical stuff that Mr. Sloterdijk is wont to rail against. Toroidology and theories of dimensionality may best be left to the topologists, though IMNSHO there are some fascinating, not-primarily-mathematical side branches to those explorations that are well worth the time and effort to look into, but they would go far beyond the focus of this reading and forum. Perhaps some other time. I, at least, have my hands full with Peter himself and the associations he appears to be involking right now.

On a completely different subject, though, I have a very simple question … well, two to be precise:

  1. Does the English (or the French, since I believe that translation is being read as well) contain a name or subject index or both?

  2. For anyone who has or has seen Vol. III: is there a name or subject index or both at the end of the trilogy as a whole?

Truly, just curious.

Oh, and on yet another, more personal note: I became a grandfather again this past Saturday, and it could be that I am unavailable for our scheduled online conversation this coming Thursday. My schedule is at the moment not completely clear. I’ve been “on call” for most of the past nine months, and Lord knows if that’s going to change much in the next nine or however many. Should I not show up, it’s merely due to scheduling constraints, and certainly not that I’ve just thrown in my Sloterdijkian towel.


Congrats, @achronon, on the new family member! May many inspired grandchild-blown bubbles splatter on the upholstery of your days… :balloon:

And what a great opportunity to freshly witness the dyadic relationship unfolding.

Interestingly, I found a not-primarily-mathematical reference to what we might call a “toroidology” in this essay, co-authored by a recent sign-up here, Sperry Andrews:

Admittedly, I have not yet made it through the essay (it’s dense, in a good way), but I found the thinking in the initial pages intriguing, and I think certain lines of thought may intersect with what we’ve been discussing here.

In answer to your q.1: There is no name or subject index in the English translation.

Don’t throw in the towel quite yet!