Germanic Languages | German Theory
G623 | TBA | M. Weiner

Topic: „Peter Sloterdijk“

Peter Sloterdijk (1947-) is widely considered one of the preeminent
German philosophers of our time, having essentially established his
reputation in 1983 as an eclectic iconoclast with his first major
work, Kritik der zynischen Vernunft, which soon assumed nearly cult
status as the most widely disseminated German philosophical tract
since Adorno/Horkheimer’s Dialektik der Aufklärung.  For over a
quarter century, Sloterdijk has been omnipresent in the landscape of
German media through his numerous publications, lectures,
interviews, and more recently, his television series Das
philosophische Quartett, which, together with Rüdiger Safranski, he
has moderated since 2002.  He has also emerged as a provocateur,
intentionally fomenting particularly trenchant, heated, and highly
visible polemics through his dispassionate discussion of some of the
most sensitive subjects in the modern German psyche—as seen most
notably perhaps in the furor that surrounded his 2000
lecture, „Regeln für den Menschenpark,“ in which he pondered the
shaping and improvement of the human body through emerging gene
technology, thereby inciting a debate in the popular press over the
continued relevance of the Frankfurt School in the current age.  His
work draws upon an eclectic span of fields and objects of inquiry:
European and Eastern philosophy, cultural studies, anthropology,
comparative religion, mysticism, Freudian and Lacanian
psychoanalysis, media studies, the history of science, European
cultural and political history, terrorism, world literature,
contemporary politics, and others still.  (For an overview, see:  He is also particularly well known
for the aesthetic quality of his writings, has authored a favorably-
received novel of 1985, Der Zauberbaum: Die Entstehung der
Psychoanalyse im Jahr 1785.  Ein epischer Versuch zur Philosophie
der Psychologie, and in 2007 published a collection of essays
devoted to aesthetic issues, Der ästhetische Imperativ: Schriften
zur Kunst.  His most expansive project to date is his Sphären
trilogy, a study of over 2,500 pages that constitutes a reflection
on the psycho-social dimensions of the visual imagination since the
beginnings of human history.  When not active as an internationally
peripatetic lecturer and visiting professor, he serves as Rektor and
Professor für Ästhetik und Philosophie at the Hochschule für
Gestaltung in Karlsruhe and also teaches in the Akademie der
bildenden Künste in Vienna.

The course will investigate seminal texts from the 1980s and diverse
themes in his work in two later periods, from the 1990s and the 21st
century, respectively.  Ideally, it will provide a frame within
which students may test and apply some of the topics, approaches,
and concerns they have encountered over the semester to the
exploration of their own interests as they formulate a research
project.  In the final sessions, students will distribute, discuss,
and mutually critique drafts of their papers-in-progress, and will
subsequently submit a revised, final version by the middle of finals
week.  Because this is a 600-, and not an 800-level course, the
papers need not (though, of course, they may) be more than ca. 15pp.
in length, plus bibliography.

Course grades will be computed as follows: Participation: 66%;
Paper: 34%.

(Though not required, students may find it useful before taking the
course to familiarize themselves with basic tenets of the Frankfurt
School, especially with those pursued in Theodor W. Adorno and Max
Horkheimer’s aforementioned Dialektik der Aufklärung, as well as
with the work of Friedrich Nietzsche, especially Also sprach
Zarathustra and Zur Genealogie der Moral.  Students might also wish
to be familiar with Martin Heidegger’s concept of “space.”  Literary
authors of particular interest to Sloterdijk are Rainer Maria Rilke,
Paul Celan, and Ernst Jünger.)

Required Texts

Sloterdijk, Peter.  Falls Europa erwacht. Gedanken zum Programm
einer Weltmacht am Ende des Zeitalters ihrer politischen Absence.
Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1994.
ISBN 3-518-39902-0

-----.  Kritik der zynischen Vernunft.
Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2003.
ISBN 3-518-12427-7

-----.  Regeln für den Menschenpark: Ein Antwortschreiben zu
Brief über den Humanismus.
Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1999.
ISBN 3-518-06582-3

-----.  Weltfremdheit.
Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1993.
ISBN 3-518-11781-5

-----.  Zur Welt kommen—Zur Sprache kommen. Frankfurter Vorlesungen.
Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1988.
ISBN 3-518-11505-7

Sloterdijk, Peter and Hans-Jürgen Heinrichs.  Die Sonne und der Tod:
Dialogische Untersuchungen.
Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2001.