Authors Peter Sloterdijk Peter Sloterdijk b. He has been cohost of a discussion program, Das Philosophische Quartett Philosophical Quartet on German television since Contributors Wieland Hoban. Bubbles is as much an essential guide to modern space as it is a philosophical epic about dwelling and thinking.
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The German philosopher Peter Sloterdijk hosts just such a weekly talk show. That is to say: What is humanity without the all-encompassing presence of religion, whose persistence in the modern world is either ineffectually subcultural or violently retrograde, and, in any case, is clearly incapable of offering a satisfying universal? What is humanity without the predictable cycles of the quasi-natural, communal lifeworld, and without the unquestioned legitimacy of the social, spiritual, and aesthetic hierarchies that once regulated that lifeworld?
And how should we best offer solace to the lonely, confused, and rootless subject that emerges with the triumph of mass society, capitalism, scientism, technology, the destruction of traditional life, and the disenchantment of the world? Just to make it sunnier, we can now also add to the list impending ecological crisis.
Philosophers are often harsh judges of human nature, and the concept of Spheres is unusually generous, kind, and good-natured: it construes human life through an effort to create conditions of warmth, closeness, and security. As learned as he is philosophical, Sloterdijk seems equally comfortable drawing on medieval theology, media theory, sociology, theoretical biology, antique numismatics, psychoanalysis, Roman superstitions and domestic cults, and Buddhist sculpture.
And that is only a partial catalogue. The first volume spells out the most intimate type of sphere—the microsphere or bubble—the original form of being-in-spheres. The centrality of this theme allows Sloterdijk to posit a fundamental state for the formation of the human soul that predates any kind of conscious self in an animating and immunizing sphere. To this end, Sloterdijk crafts absolutely beautiful passages about sound coming through the medium of the womb that extends to the songs of the nursery to form an original musicality of the human soul.
Sloterdijk presents the womb-state as an original type of human ecstasy that is at the root of subsequent religious, erotic, communal, and political sphere formations. Those who reach it can use those facts to explain what drives the intimate, all too intimate bubbles to failure and forces their inhabitant into transformations.
But what does the theory of the microsphere provide other than an intellectual high? It would be supposing a bit much that something that is frankly so odd could quickly enter into mainstream discourse.
But I believe Sloterdijk successfully puts to rest the notion that we are essentially isolated beings in a field of meaningless objects, and puts in its place a way to conceive of human existence as incumbent upon highly convoluted and delicate systems of augmentation, nurturing, and growth. In the process, Sloterdijk is able to find new meaning in the cast aside achievements of past culture. This is particularly true in the case of archaic mysticism and theology, which Sloterdijk does not treat as the ideological relics of backward societies, but rather as containing subtle lessons on the nature of human solidarity and intimacy.
And he does this without calling for the uncritical readoption of a pre-modern religiosity or by succumbing to tasteless, New Age pseudo-spirituality some puzzling words of admiration for the deplorable mountebank Osho in one interview notwithstanding , but by permitting the spirit of the past to breathe into and reanimate the present.
The language-game of spheres leads to an ecological understanding of culture; a term whose etymology in Latin denotes the care of plants and the tilling of the earth. In that light, those involved in humanistic endeavors should concern themselves with the preservation and cultivation of the atmospheres that permit human beings to flourish.
But there are two volumes yet to be translated, so it remains to be seen for the non-German-speaking English reader how Sloterdijk deals with these problems. One might wonder also if the sphere as a figure of thought is not a little too good.
Although he expresses doubt about the ability of philosophy to provide such all-encompassing universals in the contemporary period, the relentless certainty with which Sloterdijk deploys his thought might be accused of sharing the same megalomaniac delusions of grandeur.
Rather than taking philosophy as a purely theoretical enterprise concerned with developing a disinterested, complete picture of the world, this conception treats it as a therapeutic method, a way in which to affect change in oneself. If philosophy has a place in this world, it looks like this.
Bubbles by Peter Sloterdijk, translated by Wieland Hoban - review
Faced with fragile western triumphalism in Iraq and Afghanistan, Sloterdijk proposed that a "pneumatic parliament" be parachuted into post-conflict zones, its sleek transparent dome inflated in an hour and a half, and seats for representatives installed within 24 hours. In a laconic essay to accompany CGI renderings of his Swiftian bubble in situ, the philosopher noted that some "failed states" among the customer target group might not be ready for the full parliamentary "experience". A lucrative secondary market would arise in educational theme parks dedicated to potential state systems: democracy, monarchy, aristocracy and outright tyranny. As a political-philosophical joke, the pneumatic parliament is a slightly clunky conceit. Bubbles is the first volume to appear in English.
File:Sloterdijk Peter Bubbles Spheres I Microspherology.pdf
He studied philosophy, German studies and history at the University of Munich and the University of Hamburg from to In he received his PhD from the University of Hamburg. In the s he worked as a freelance writer, and published his Kritik der zynischen Vernunft in He has since published a number of philosophical works acclaimed in Germany. His best-known Karlsruhe student and former assistant is Marc Jongen , a member of the Bundestag. Consequently, he proposes the creation of an "ontological constitution" that would incorporate all beings—humans, animals, plants, and machines.