I started reading the new Sloterdijk book, since it was published as a paperback.


I enjoy it; I'm far from finishing it, but so far he seems to introduce a new concept which will replace the construct of "Religion". Instead, Religions will be subsumed under the category of ascetic practices, which makes the human species the "homo repetitus", the practicing animal.


As a metaphor, he draws on Nietzsches word "the human being is a rope between animal and Ueberman" On this rope the artist (or asket) must climb and balance along. Another picture is Jakob's Ladder (from the bible) in which Jakob saw the heirarchy of angels up unto God Lord Father.

Of course, since God is dead in our times, There is nothing or nobody to climb up to and join, but, so Sloterdijk proclaims, the rope and ladder still remains: their meaning is that the human being must overcome itself, by practice, to climb "mount improbable".


The perfect example for a religion which contains nothing but nonsense and practices (or injunctions) is Scientology by L. Ron Hubbard. Apparently, so says Sloterdijk, there is no better way to show that all religion is scam than to invent a new religion. Axiom: in every religion is a core of practices or injunctions that do the trick. Every other mystical nonsense around this core is New Age and can be skipped without losing anything of worth.


Did you notice? This fits with the "Integral Transformative Practice" of Ken Wilbie. I am beginning to suspect that Sloterdijk has read one or two Wilber books also. cant wait to read on.


more later.

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OK I'm half way through it.


I'm struggling with Slotij's style, he is at times lengthy and obscure, and still he hits the nail spot-on now and then. He is more Sartreian than Habermasian, more Heideggerian than Marxist, and more greek than christian, just for the fun of it.


What I really loved was the 100 page introduction, where he pours out his quotation gems from the beginnings of modernity. He gives a fresh and new interpretation of a famous Rilke Poem:


Archaic Torso of Apollo



We cannot know his legendary head
with eyes like ripening fruit. And yet his torso
is still suffused with brilliance from inside,
like a lamp, in which his gaze, now turned to low,

gleams in all its power. Otherwise
the curved breast could not dazzle you so, nor could
a smile run through the placid hips and thighs
to that dark center where procreation flared.

Otherwise this stone would seem defaced
beneath the translucent cascade of the shoulders
and would not glisten like a wild beast’s fur:

would not, from all the borders of itself,
burst like a star: for here there is no place
that does not see you. You must change your life.




Rilke wrote this when he visited the sculptor Rodin in Paris and studied his unfinished statues that were lying around the studio. Sloterdijk says that the imperative "You gotta change your life" that appears in the last line of the poem is the determining sentence for the aeon of modernity. In order to answer this call, you have to take up the practice and become an athlete, or an artist, or an ascet. For this, you need a master, an individual who is further ahead of the path than yourself, you need a trainer, a coach, or a guru.


From here, he develops his sociological model of the homo repetitus, or the practicing animal. He draws upon his superior knowledge of Nietzsche. The Nietzsche Chapter is a clear highlight, he quotes extensively from Zaratustra et. al. This part of the book is a real intellectual pleasure.


Other sources he quotes to give credibility to his thesis are Kafka (The Hunger Artist), Unthan the armless fiddler (a disabled person with no arms who practiced a lot to overcome his disability) and Emile Cioran, a modern day hermit who lived in Paris and started the initiative to bring the Olympic Games back into our days.


Indeed, the greek role model of the athlete is THE image for a post-metaphysical spirituality. He is training hard to do incredible things that only few humans are capable of. The higher the ability of the athlete, the less people are capable of doing it, which gives us the basic shape of the pyramid.


He then calls on Wittgenstein (which I never got into) and Foucault as important pioneers in the intellectual athletism of the 20th century. It is true that Foucault has a lot to say about discipline and hard hard practice to achieve extraordinary attainments.


Sloterdijks approach is mainly sociological, or LL/LR here, but he is capable of giving rough sketches of the UL, too. He seems to have a basic grasp of the Quadrants, actually. His call for a new "science of the disciplines" or "Disziplinik" is roughly equivalent to the Integral Methodological Pluralism.


In the next chapters he goes into a sociological view on the history of the ascenders, he describes how aspirants of the athletic path had to withdraw from and devalue the world of form, something that IMO resembles Badiou's concept of "subtraction". From here, the coach or master or guru comes into play, with the various implications of the Master-Student duality with all its blessings and problems. Slotij is stressing the importance of conversions, which mean events where athletes of the ascending path are disappointed by their coach and fire him in order to hire a new one.


to be continued

Thanks for posting your notes and thoughts here, Christophe.  I'm intrigued by this book and will look for it.

Thanks B , my pleasure.



In the next part, Sloterdijk is going through different types of "Coaches". Let's make a list.


  • The Guru (Hindu-type). This involves a devotional attitude from the student. Usually this transferential and Karma-Burning relationship lasts for years and finishes with the Guru-Exam a.k.a. Enlightenment.  This type of coach is not very favorised in the West. Slotij mentions the IHO four greatest Gurus of the 20th century: R.Maharshi, Jiddu Krishnamurti, Sri Aurobindo and Baghwan Sri Rajneesh, alias Osho. This last one seems to have been the first to utilize the procedure of "Re-Branding" in changing his name which makes him a pioneer in the Guru-ization of the Modern West.
  • The Buddhist Master. While the hindu Guru basically teaches the Unity of individual and cosmic self, the buddhist Master teaches the Equivalence of Non-Self and Non-World. This makes things more complex. Slotij notes that while the Buddha sat in silence when he attained enlightenment, many buddhist followers seem to talk and discuss (and disagree) a lot with each other. This seems to be a symptom of a certain paradoxical pedagogical problem. On other words, there is nothing to attain, and in order to realize that, you have to meditate for 3x ten years, 14 hours a day. Zen = the biggest lie of all times? (Kodo Sawaki).
  • The Christian Disciple. This type of Coach doesn't have to be elightened him- or herself, it's enough to be inspired and dedicated to spread the good news. In imitating the one-who-cannot-be-imitated (also called imitatio christi), the Disciple opens himself up for the impossible, to receive the Holy Ghost. "it is no longer I but Christ who lives in me" (Paul, Galatians 2,20). In doing so, he himself becomes a role-model for others to follow. Famous examples include Franz von Assisi, Ignatio von Loyola, Pater Pius and many others.
  • The Philosopher. Slotij names three types: the erotic (e.g. Socrates), the statuaric (Stoics) and the gnostic type (Plotinus). It was Socrates who changed the Rules of the Teaching Game: He pretended to like his students (which he of course didn't) and, when they got on the hook, redirected their libidinal investment towards the Wisdom as such, getting himself out of the way. Pretty therapeutic as a technique, huh. The Stoics had Students also, they usually claimed that their students were "their creation". On the other hand they stressed that Masters are nothing but Guides and pointed to the importance of the inner Guru.
  • The Sophist. This type got a bad press from Plato. Still they knew the notion of practice and traning to achieve their mastery. The goal was to be able to speak in public in a convincing manner about any topic. Some Piano Players achieved this type of skill, Mozart is said to have been able to improvise about anything the audience yelled at him. Also Franz Liszt. The injunction is clear: practice practice practice.
  • the profane Coach. This type "wants you to want it". This is the classic Sports Coach who amplifies your own motivation and carries you through the crises and the mantraps of the training schedule. He gives you a motivating speech in your corner of the boxing ring or in the locker room when you need it the most. The Coach wants you to win, no matter what, in every circumstance, always win - win, except when your health is in danger.
  • The Master Craftsman. He became a Master in his art through experience and passion. In working with the material, he produces works that carry mankind further on its path. Be it a wagon's wheel, be it a barrel made of black forest wood, the craftsman produces a surplus value that assures his survival. Students who want to learn the craft stay and live with their masters for years to come. In the end, the pass the Master's Test and walk on to teach the art they have mastered.

You could add professors, School Teachers and Writers/Novelists to the list. But they can be subsumed in the existing categories, since they represent a modern version of Socrates' Teaching methods as described above.


In Part Three of the Book, Sloterdijik goes into the Modern Versions of Practice and Training. This Part is going to cover what in Integral Terms would be called "The History of the Descenders". Coming soon.

Part Three: The Ascetics go modern


The Re-Profanisation of the Recluse


With the beginning of modernity, the moral imperative "You gotta change your life" gets a little Update: now it reads "You gotta change the world, it's fundamental principles and everyone within it".

In other words, the practitioners of self-discipline leave the monasteries and enter the school: the era of the teacher and pedagogue begins. At first, only the aristocrats get access to this new phenomenon, but soon the middle class citizen "bourgeois" sends his children to school to learn about this new mode of living. The Submittal of human nature under the discipline of learning, becoming and practicing shows itself in the insitutions of theatres, ateliers, clinics, Jails, factories, market places, stadions and public spaces.

After Martin Luther had proclaimed that God was to be found not only in the churches but also in profane spaces, the Spectacle of the Holy Mass was getting considerably less audience. Instead people pilgered to the museums to watch "modern art", or to the concert hall to listen to the newest pop star.

The atmosphere was that of progress, uplift, Just do it, What are we waiting for, Yes we can.

It's the age of enlightenment, stupid. Everybody should be able to know anything about everything. With a little effort, and a little help from your friends, you too will get enlightened.

Jan Amos Comenius, the Father of Modern Didactics, sets the goal in his "Didacta Magna":

"We venture to promise a Great Didactic ... the whole art of teaching all things to all men, and indeed of
teaching them with certainty, so that the result cannot fail to follow... Lastly, we wish to prove all this a
priori, that is to say, from the unalterable nature of the matter itself ... that we may lay the foundations
of the universal art of founding universal schools."

The new book of books: The Encyclopedia. The Knowledge of the World, listed alphabetically from A to Z.

->Always Almost complete, Update will follow soon.


Other areas of modern practice are the artists and military. Sloterdijk proposes an interesting addition to contemporary arts theory: art history should not concentrate solely on the artwork, but also on the practice level of the artist. This leads to complications with the pomos, and most importantly the Ready-Mades of Duchamp. Sploterdijk suggests that the era of infallibility for the Ascended Master Duchamp is about to reach an end. I am shocked! A provoking thesis indeed.

OK, so much for now. These are pretty broad strokes, not very much detail, just to get a feeling for the modernity theme. More details in the book.

Hope y'all enjoy. ^_^

And now, the interesting stuff.


As we have seen, the modernization of the Call for Change and Progress leads to a De-Spiritualization, a Pragmatization and, in the end, the Call for Change is also a Political Question.


Sloterdijks own political stance is, as far as I can see, a pro-capitalist, neo-liberal one. He calls modern societies "cleptocracies" because they steal taxes from the rich (more than 50% in Germany) and spend it on community issues. He calls this practice semi-socialist and cites Hayek and Friedman as pioneers for modern freedom and wealth-production.

Hear hear.

But he has more to say: A crucial distinction is that of the "Gradual" versus the "Sudden" School of Change.

The "Gradual School" are the believers in the current system, they'd say: it will all work out with the next update, be patient, we climb one wave of perfection at a time. Basically everything is fine, the minor bugs in the system will be fixed soon enough.

The "Sudden School" are the discontented, the impatient, the Revolutionaries. They'd say: Don't listen to the propaganda of the status quo! If we don't act nothing essential will change at all. Look at those believers with their fat purses and bourgeois pastimes! It's the Here and Now that counts! A la Bastille! Aux armes!


Again, this resembles the "Young-Hegelian" versus "Old-Hegelian" distinction.


Sloteridjk seems to prefer the Gradual, Old-Hegelian path. In a rather ingenious move, he modifies late Foucault and introduces the dichotomy "to operate" versus "to be operated". The task of modern subjects is not only to care for oneself, but also to consicously expose oneself onto the operations of others. This postulates that the subject has developed the state of "Gelassenheit" to a sufficient extent, so that he/she is able to be a client/ a patient/ a customer and partake in the societal operations.


this is good stuff methinks. more later.

You gotta check out this video:  Kumare': A True Film About a False Prophet.

Hello Bruce,

yes Kumaré looks like a good documentary to watch. Kind of a postmodern version of the guru story. Interesting that it was planned as kind of a prank, and developed its own momentum in the process. Reminds me on Zizek's view on KungFU Panda: while the film makes constant fun of the mythic background, the story and the message still works fine: same with faith and ideology? it's enough to get the process going, in an 'as if' playful mode if necessary, it will eventually get a life of its own.


Incredible that young woman who spontanously became a follower of his just by seeing him giving his fake blessings. She was totally enchanted by Kumarè. Jesus Lord I should try the Guru business myself. I really need somebody to "operate me" no kidding.


Yes, I was thinking of your comment in your first post when I shared that link:  "Apparently, so says Sloterdijk, there is no better way to show that all religion is scam than to invent a new religion. Axiom: in every religion is a core of practices or injunctions that do the trick. Every other mystical nonsense around this core is New Age and can be skipped without losing anything of worth..."


same with faith and ideology? it's enough to get the process going, in an 'as if' playful mode if necessary, it will eventually get a life of its own.


I am reminded of an essay by Robert Miller we discussed back on the old Zaadz/Gaia version of IPS:  Beyond Postmodernism? Toward a Philosophy of Play.


One last post to finish this:


Sloterdijk's vision for the global challenge that lies ahead is described in 'immunlogical' terms. This perspective seems to have been overlooked by most intellectuals except Niklas Luhmann. In Systems Theory, an Immune System is a specialised part of the whole which is taking care of the System's survival and continued self-organization. The Immune System does so by fighting intruders and keeping the interior ecology clean and healthy.


So now the Challenge of our time comes into sight: Can the nations of the world shift their particular Immune Systems in order to not target its neighbors or favorite straw men any more but instead form a new boundary? Can the nations of the world combine their Immune forces and work together in co-existence on a global level, in Co-Immunism so to speak? The new boundary would then of course be space, as some frikkin President already said.


On a more theoretical note, I couldn't help but notice that the Gradual vs.Sudden thingy has all the attributes of a Parallax, a concept that Zizek brought onto the discourse table. In short, we speak of a parallaxe when a shift in perspective also causes a substantial change in the object that is observed. More on the Zizek thread.

I came across this review of Sloterdijk's book today:  Practice, Practice, Practice.

In last months 'Stern' magazine I read a story about an austrian doctorate student of Sloterdijk who ran into a psychotic episode while studying with Prof. Slotij at University of Vienna. His name is Mathias Illigen and he just wrote a book called "Ich oder Ich" about the whole story, he seems to be pretty distanced from it all now. He was not found guilty by the court because of his mental illness he was in at the time. The thing is, while under the influence he was pretty paranoid schizophrenic, assumed cameras everywhere, and, at the climax, he visited his father and killed him in in the heat of the moment with a flat iron. In the book (which I plan to read) he describes how he felt that Sloterdijk spoke to him in secret messages, how he withdrew himself from public spheres to only leave his appartment when he absolutely had to, and so on and so on...

More when I read it.

I finally got the English translation of this book (for my birthday).  Looking forward to diving in.

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What paths lie ahead for religion and spirituality in the 21st Century? How might the insights of modernity and post-modernity impact and inform humanity's ancient wisdom traditions? How are we to enact, together, new spiritual visions – independently, or within our respective traditions – that can respond adequately to the challenges of our times?

This group is for anyone interested in exploring these questions and tracing out the horizons of an integral post-metaphysical spirituality.

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