Falling into Things: Peter Sloterdijk, Ontological Anthropology in the Monstrous

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10.3898/NEWF:95.03.2018

This paper offers a close reading of the ontological anthropology developed by Peter Sloterdijk over the last three decades. Special attention is given to how it resonates with the current political situation, and particularly with the imperative to design spaces and techniques that can sustain life in the midst of revived nativism, triumphant connectivism, and non-stop mobilisation. The paper critically examines Sloterdijk’s timely, if often exasperatingly ambivalent treatment of the relation between engendering and enduring, as it plays out in such design. Sloterdijk’s anthropology is concerned with the crafting of habitable spaces out in the cold, open sky. It raises the issue of the viability of a vexing exposure to the incommensurable, the monstrous. On the one hand, I suggest that this concern all too often involves the domestication of the political, subsuming the emancipatory potential of collective energies under broader concerns with adaptation and endurability. On the other hand, in his most inspired writings Sloterdijk evokes movements of inspiration and ascent that engender worlds in ways that subsist any transfiguration into mere comfort or tolerance. In dialogue with other contemporary thinkers, this paper thus follows Sloterdijk in exploring the articulation of endurability and intensity, inside and outside, inner consistency and ekstatic decentering. It is a conceptual proposition aimed at the design of spaces capable of sustaining an increase in openness to the world – knowing that spaces of protection can all too easily morph into spaces of containment.

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