As always, sir, very well put ... and what is more, ever more stimulating of thought. Hence, a few of my own in return, whereby I will openly admit up front that a few of these comments may drift afield of direct answers. You -- nor anyone else -- is under any obligation to read all of this, as it ended up much longer than intended (whereby the techology is simply not in a posiion to reflect what you said or my reaction to it: not everything is "item #1, after all, you had a list.
As for your "closer specification":
Tallis has convinced me, it's a rocky road. The dualism that has been derived herefrom is shaky, and it starts in many regards way to late (see your own closer-specification #5). Still, a very good place to start, and one upon which anyone who is serious in exploring the matter should be willing to deal with.
I was firmly convinced of this at one time, but the older I get the less certain I am (and, BTW, for all you youngsters out there: this happens a lot when you get older). I don't think we can begin to think of Being as individual at all; human beingness, well, I can't help but think there is so much (language, culture, how we have come to organize our human lives, etc.) that may be as irreducible as selves who make up those cultures and ways we have organized our lives. But again, I think this is an excellent starting point for exploring meanings.
Agreed, which is one of the reasons that the “spheres” metaphor feels constricting to me. Yes, spheres can be conceived as encompassing whatever one wants to have them contain, but other metaphors highlight the dynamics of what is happening within them. In that regard, spheres don’t do it for me.
One of the biggest problems I have these days is with the term “scientific”. English speakers are at a distinct disadvantage. You’ve always been open to my “language lessons”, TJ, so indulge me once more:
The German word for “science” is Wissenschaft (whereby, Wissen = knowledge or knowing; and -schaft = denoting certain categories of group, state of being, or activity). We could say, in a manner of speaking, that Wissenschaft is a kind of “knowingness”, a particular “way of knowing”. Granted, the English word “knowledgeship” says nothing, but it gives us a lot to think about.
What this means in the grander scheme of things is that in German, we can have subjects such as Naturwissenschaft (“knowledgeship" about nature, the natural world), but we can also have Humanwissenschaft (“knowledgeship” about humans), or Literaturwissenschaft (“knowledgeship” about literature), and the list goes on an on. In other words, any ordered, orderly, somewhat systematic, focused, based-on-agreed-principles-and-assumptions way of looking at given phenomena is a legitimate way of looking at those phenomena. Karl Popper, an Austrian who ended up being more English than the Anglo-Saxons, pushed this systematic way of looking into the empirically based and, in the end, materialistic oriented, notion that science, if it was to be called a science, had to have concrete (read: numerically expressed) data that could be interpreted. (OK, I’m accusing Popper of things he is not responsible for, but the Anglo-Saxons picked up on his insistence on empiricism and turned it into a notion of science that is, to say the least, inadequate for the purposes for which it was intended. Make your assumptions clear; make your methods transparent; gather data according to your methods, interpret that data in line with the assumption framework you have set, and you have a “science”. Just not in the English-speaking world, for there we have pre-reduced it to absolute-measurable phenomena. That is, for me, a game-breaker when the word “scientific” is used.
The point is, depending on how you understand “scientific”, we may or may not be onto something. There are, as the saying goes, more than one way to skin a cat.
Heh, heh, heh … you hit the proverbial nail smack dab on the proverbial head. Just what does it mean to be a “self”, and your definition is arguably the best one I’ve heard yet.
Which brings me to the real deal: it doesn’t surprise me that the translation is better than the original. Umberto Eco quipped that “Translation is the art of failure.” I’m not sure, to be perfectly honest, that we are reading the same book. (But that is, for the moment, beside the point.) Why is it that you may be having difficulties with the text? I don’t believe that it is because you’re ill-equpped to understand what he is saying.
Regardless of the actual medium, I’ve long used a very simple model of comprehension that is, I believe applicable, irrespective of language, namely, Barrett’s Taxonomy of Reading Comprehension. This is certainly not the be-all-end-all of comprehension models, but it is as pragmatically applicable as it gets. The attached file will show you what I’m talking about.
Here’s the point: substitute “intensities” for “levels” and you’ve got a Gebserian model of reading comprehension. Then, just for fun, take this model and apply it to Sloterdijk. In other words, just try, for the fun of it, to formulate comprehension questions that you would ask in, say, a class which you were holding that was using Sloterdijks book as a text. Questions at the so-called “lower” levels (i.e., recognition, recollection) would be easy to formulate. Questions at the reorganization level would be more difficult, and, truth be told, would probably take up most of our effort: what did he say here as opposed to what he said there; how does he express “intimacy” in different places in the text; how does his apparent meaning of word x here differ (or is comparable to) from his use of the word x there, and so on. If I look at our online and forum-based discussions of the text, we do one helluva lot of this. We haven’t even got to the “level” of interpretation (that is, drawing conclusions from facts/statements made at different places in the text), let alone “judgment” (making an evaluation of what he is actually saying), or even, heaven forbid, “aesthetics" (how well did he he achieve his alleged intent). I’ll admit: that’s why I’m having so much trouble with the text, for too many of these apparently simple questions are rather difficult to answer when it comes to the text itself. (But, others — cf. Richard David Precht — had these problems too. At least I’m not alone.)
This isn’t the only comprehension model “on the market”, but it is, as far as I’m concerned, one of the most effective. There’s a Kabbalistic model, based on literalness, figurativeness, symbology and knowledge that we could also bring in, but neither of these has really anything to do with the current state-of-the-art which is, ultimately, literalness as the reader takes it to be. It is dissatisfying for me to talk about a book in which one person says “I see this” and another says, “it makes me think of that” and yet another says, “It seems to me that …” and even another says, “Perhaps it is …”.
In such cases, the author is being neither “brilliant” not “provocative” nor really anything else: he’s being obscure. Anyone should be able to understand a text at the so-called literal level. The words as they are combined and presented on the page should be enough to make sense of what the author is saying. I don’t even get that impression in our discussions. The rest, the other “levels” of potential comprehension, is beyond me. You don’t need to understand the subtexts and intertexts or any other whatevers that you think may be there. You are an intelligent, insightful human being and you should know what what he is saying. The fact that none of us, apparently, seem to know this raises red flags for me. But, then again, I’m the curmudgeon, and curmudgeons miss a lot in life. I’m only sad that no one can apparently fill in the gaps.
Which brings us to our next reading. I’m not surprised at the author’s avoidance, but I can’t shake the apprehension that what I conjecture may in fact be the case. I’ll start reading the new section as soon as I get up the courage, but I am also going to try a different tactic with this reading. I’m not going to analyse, I’m just going to let it come as it is. Maybe I’ve just been reading him wrong.
I don’t know.