Access this past course AU $90/$145

Introduction to the work of Peter Sloterdijk

Lecturer: Luca Possati

Originally Taught: Winter School 2022

What does Peter Sloterdijk – German philosopher born in Karlsruhe, where he still lives and teaches, in 1947 – have in common with the great thinkers of the twentieth century such as Husserl, Heidegger, Derrida, Wittgenstein? It is not so much the interest in language as a theme, as the core of the philosophical reflections, as the attempt to go beyond the limits of expression through the creation of new words, concepts, expressions, phrases, lemmas, which can account for realities that had not been thematized in the history of theory, or that, on the contrary, suffered crushed under the millennial weight of an interpretative tradition that prevented an ex-nihilo analysis.

Sloterdijk’s philosophy is inseparable from the linguistic creations that run through it, from his style, from the formulation of innovative and provocative concepts, which try to explain, by creating them, realities different from those considered by the classical philosophical tradition. Sloterdijk does not seek to transcend language through language. Sloterdijk’s attempt, titanic and ironic at the same time, is to create – through his semantic ability – new objects of thought, to which to refer in order to think in a new way about our past and our present.

The five weeks of the course intend to offer a general introduction to the main concepts of Sloterdijk’s philosophy starting from his main work, namely the trilogy Spheres, composed by three volumes published respectively in 1998, 1999 and 2004. Spheres certainly represents Sloterdijk’s most organic contribution to contemporary philosophy. The course is divided into two parts. The first is a general introduction to Sloterdijk starting from the main themes that marked his formation: the attention to autobiography and Gnosticism, his Nietzsche’s reading, his criticism to Heidegger, and the book Critique of Cynical Reason. The second part analyzes the fundamental structure of Spheres. Sphere I represents the culmination and sum of the analyzes on the constitution of the subject that had occupied Sloterdijk’s reflection right from the interest in autobiography. Spheres II can be considered a broad phenomenology of the spirit in the era of globalization; an era that for Sloterdijk begins with the constitution of the first images of the world understood as a cosmos by the Greeks. Spheres III represents the conclusion of the trilogy, an attempt to describe the contemporary world, in which the concept of spheres has dissolved into that of “foams.”

The course will be organized as follows:

The first week will develop a general introduction to Sloterdijk’s thought. Passages from one of his most important texts will be read and commented: Critique of cynical reason.

The second week will be dedicated to a general introduction to the trilogy Spheres. The central themes and concepts of the trilogy will be identified. We will focus on Sloterdijk’s interpretation of Nietzsche.

The third week will focus on the first volume of Spheres. Several passages from the work will be analyzed. The commentary will try to frame the text in Sloterdijk’s overall work and show its originality.

The fourth week will instead be dedicated to the second volume of Spheres and the concept of globalization. Also in this case, different passages of the work will be analyzed and commented.

In the fifth week the course will cover the third volume of Spheres. Also in this case, we will try to reconstruct the general structure of the work starting from the analysis of some key passages.

Level: Intermediate. No familiarity with Sloterdijk’s philosophy will be presumed.