Cultural Discourse looks at a broad range of cultural issues.
11th April 2011

New Sloterdijk Translation

Spheres I: Bubbles by Peter Sloterdijk

Reviewed by John David Ebert

The first volume of Peter Sloterdijk’s theoretical opus Spheres is now available in English translation from Semiotexte and is due out shortly. This volume, entitled Bubbles, investigates those types of social spheres which Sloterdijk terms “microspheres,” which have to do with personal, one-to-one human relationships, especially of the amniotic kind. The second volume, Globes, articulates his idea of “macrospheres,” or the cosmological containers inside which humanity has been situated until about the 15th century, while the final volume, Foams, articulates the fate of spheres in the Modern world, in which each individual inhabits his or her own sphere, all of which rub up against one another to create a kind of social “foam.” Read the rest of this entry »

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6th April 2011

Top 12 Philosophical Books

My Top 12 Favorite Philosophical Works of the 20th Century

By John David Ebert

1. The Decline of the West by Oswald Spengler (1918-1924): A little known and rarely discussed fact is that Heidegger, in his early lectures, read Spengler and was clearly both concerned and worried about the implications of his ideas. Spengler also seems to have been instrumental in the creation of Heidegger’s idea of Dasein, since he, too, uses the word, but in a different, more vitalistic-Romantic way.  In Spengler, Dasein, or Being, is opposed to Wachsein, or Waking Being, as instinct is opposed to intellect. World civilizations are unfoldings of Dasein, or Being, by supra-rational entelechies that function like cultural monads which unfold their life cycles deterministically from within. Though history appears to be a mess, Spengler saw that it was ordered by these 8 great civilizations, each of which irrefutably underwent a process of form-evolution that involved the birth of a particular Dasein, its growth and attainment of cultural maturity through a mastery of the arts, followed by a subsequent loss of such ability and decline into historical senescence and cultural irrelevance.  The most sobering part of Spengler’s theory, every part of which seems to be daily confirmed by one or another new headline, is that we in the West have passed the moment of our Greek-like mastery of art and culture and have entered a Roman-like period of militarism and empire with its attendant lack of competence in the arts. The shifting from metaphysical concerns in philosophy to economic-pragmatic concerns is symptomatic.

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