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Peter Sloterdijk

Peter Sloterdijk (b. 1947) is one of the best known and widely read German intellectuals writing today. His 1983 publication of Critique of Cynical Reason (published in English in 1988) became the best-selling German book of philosophy since World War II. He became president of the State Academy of Design at the Center for Art and Media in Karlsruhe in 2001. He has been cohost of a discussion program, Das Philosophische Quartett (Philosophical Quartet) on German television since 2002.

Titles by This Author

Spheres Volume II: Macrospherology

All history is the history of struggles for spheric expansion.
--from Globes

For Peter Sloterdijk, Friedrich Nietzsche represents nothing short of a “catastrophe in the history of language”—a new evangelist for a linguistics of narcissistic jubilation. Nietzsche offered a philosophical declaration of independence from humility, a meeting-point of sobriety and megalomania that for Sloterdijk has come to define the very project of philosophy.

Spheres Volume I: Microspherology

An epic project in both size and purview, Peter Sloterdijk’s three-volume, 2,500-page Spheres is the late-twentieth-century bookend to Heidegger’s Being and Time. Rejecting the century’s predominant philosophical focus on temporality, Sloterdijk, a self-described “student of the air,” reinterprets the history of Western metaphysics as an inherently spatial and immunological project, from the discovery of self (bubble) to the exploration of world (globe) to the poetics of plurality (foam).

Peter Sloterdijk first became known in this country for his late 1980s Critique of Cynical Reason, which confronted headlong the “enlightened false consciousness” of Habermasian critical theory. Two decades later, after spending seven years in India studying Eastern philosophy, he is now attracting renewed interest for his writings on politics and globalization and for his magnum opus Spheres, a three-volume archaeology of the human attempt to dwell within spaces, from womb to globe: Bubbles, 1998; Globes, 1999; Foam, 2004, all forthcoming from Semiotext(e).

According to Peter Sloterdijk, the twentieth century started on a specific day and place: April 22, 1915, at Ypres in Northern France. That day, the German army used a chlorine gas meant to exterminate indiscriminately. Until then, war, as described by Clausewitz and practiced by Napoleon, involved attacking the adversary’s vital function first. Using poison gas signaled the passage from classical war to terrorism. This terror from the air inaugurated an era in which the main idea was no longer to target the enemy’s body, but their environment.