Angelaki 26 (1):51-65 (2021)

Authors
Gary E. Aylesworth
Eastern Illinois University
Abstract
In his publications since the three-volume Spheres project, Peter Sloterdijk thematizes religion as a now outmoded immunological system. He says it can no longer perform its historical function because humans have lost the protection of a world periphery. The entirety of what was “outside” is now “inside,” and this has happened because: spheres are systems, and as Luhmann shows, systems naturally complexify and expand themselves by becoming self-reflective; and, as Nietzsche says, humans are driven by a need to surpass themselves. The loss of world periphery is manifest in the climate crisis, which registers as a general sense that we must “change our lives.” This gives Sloterdijk the chance to create a new sphere that can be shared by all humans, a function no so-called world religion can fulfill. This new solidarity would come about when the earth becomes the completing “other” to every self, and individuals act in accordance with the imperative to assure the existence of human life on earth. The last section of the paper contrasts Sloterdijk’s spherology with Latour’s actor–network theory, and his later move into political ecology. I argue that, despite their alliance against “globalism,” Latour and Sloterdijk are working with very different models of space and have different agendas vis-à-vis the climate crisis. Sloterdijk is trying to build ethical solidarity among humans, while Latour is concerned with a politics between both human and nonhuman actors, including Gaia, which is both the space of action and an actor in its own right. And finally, I take up Sloterdijk’s statement that religions were never anything other than human practices, compared with Latour’s call for acting “religiously,” which means “respecting what others cling to.” I do this by way of showing there are conceptual limitations to the concept of spheres and to Sloterdijk’s project overall.
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DOI 10.1080/0969725x.2021.1863590
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References found in this work BETA

The Varieties of Religious Experience.William James - 1903 - Philosophical Review 12 (1):62-67.
Pragmatism.William James - 1943 - Philosophical Review 52:623.
A Pluralistic Universe.William James - 1909 - Mind 18 (72):576-588.

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