February 25, 2018

Peter Sloterdijk is known for "impressionistic coinages—' anthropotechnics,' 'negative gynecology,' 'co-immunism' —that occasionally suggest the lurking presence of some larger system."

"A signature theme of his work is the persistence of ancient urges in supposedly advanced societies. In 2006, he published a book arguing that the contemporary revolt against globalization can be seen as a misguided expression of 'noble' sentiments, which, rather than being curbed, should be redirected in ways that left-liberals cannot imagine. He has described the Presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump as a choice 'between two helplessly gesticulating models of normality, one of which appeared to be delegitimatized, the other unproven,' and is unsurprised that so many people preferred the latter.... Sloterdijk’s comfort with social rupture has made him a contentious figure in Germany, where stability, prosperity, and a robust welfare state are seen as central to the country’s postwar achievement. Many Germans define themselves by their moral rectitude, as exhibited by their reckoning with the Nazi past and, more recently, by the government’s decision to accept more refugees from the Syrian civil war than any other Western country. Sloterdijk is determined to disabuse his countrymen of their polite illusions. He calls Germany a 'lethargocracy' and the welfare state a 'fiscal kleptocracy.' He has decried Merkel’s attitude toward refugees, drawn on right-wing thinkers such as Martin Heidegger and Arnold Gehlen, and even speculated about genetic enhancement of the human race. As a result, some progressives refuse to utter his name in public...."

From "A Celebrity Philosopher Explains the Populist Insurgency/Peter Sloterdijk has spent decades railing against the pieties of liberal democracy. Now his ideas seem prophetic" by Thomas Meaney (in The New Yorker).

ADDED: The term "negative gynecology" never reappears in the article, and I was curious enough to dig up "Taking Up The Challenge Of Space: New Conceptualisations Of Space In The Work Of Peter Sloterdijk And Graham Harman" by Marijn Nieuwenhuis in a journal called "continent," which I'd have advised is a terrible name — what with its medical, excretory meaning — but the subtitle is "maps a topology of unstable confluences and ranges across new thinking, traversing interstices and alternate directions in culture, theory, biopolitics and art," so get your head out of the toilet. Nieuwenhuis explains:
Sloterdijk empirically demonstrates that within the womb... it is impossible to draw an epistemological distinction between the object and the subject. This is because the foetus does neither recognise the placenta nor the “‘nobjects’ ([ie.] neither subjects nor objects) such as placental blood, intrauterine acoustics, and other medial givens… [The] child develops [therefore] an identity not by recognizing itself at a distance in the mirror but through presubjective resonances” (van Tuinen 2007: 281). This “negative gynaecology” (negative Gynäkologie), Sloterdijk argues, embodies the perfect immersion of “Being-a-pair” [Paar-Sein] in a bubble, which ultimately bursts when the natal process commences.

“In terms of its dramatic content, what one generally calls ‘cutting the [umbilical] cord’ is the introduction of the child into the sphere of ego-forming clarity. To cut means to state individuality with the knife. The one who performs the cut is the first separation-giver in the subject’s history; through the gift of separation, he provides the child with the stimulus for existence in the external media.” (Sloterdijk 2011: 388). The moment the child is “thrown-into-the-World” and has bid farewell to the placenta (“primal companion” or the Urbegleiter) is also the moment in which it will have to form new relationships and in turn create and dwell in new bubbles....
Does the New Yorker article ever talk about the womb? Only here:
“The car is like a uterus on wheels,” [Sloterdijk] says. “It has the advantage over its biological model for being linked to independent movement and a feeling of autonomy. The car also has phallic and anal components—the primitive-aggressive competitive behavior, and the revving up and overtaking which turns the other, slower person into an expelled turd.”
The return of the toilet.

67 comments:

tim maguire said...

Sounds fascinating. And, at least at this superficial level, I agree with every word. (Human nature has not changed since we came down out of tne trees, today's German pacifism is just the flip side of fascism on the German coin of extrimism...)

Thanks for posting this.

Colin said...

Anyone who not only excessively uses jargon but appears to invent their own to clutter their own phrasing is not worth the time to untangle it all, whether or not he agrees with my own philosophy or not.

Ann Althouse said...

"Anyone who not only excessively uses jargon but appears to invent their own to clutter their own phrasing is not worth the time to untangle it all, whether or not he agrees with my own philosophy or not."

I've heard Scott Adams talk about why he invents his own jargon. He's trying to make his ideas viral, and by using distinctive words, he tags his ideas and can identify himself as the source when the people he's infected carry them forward.

But Scott Adams is very easy to read, and Sloterdijk is not.

Maybe with someone writing like Sloterdijk, the idea is to offer so much, in a rich dense form, that those who slow down and do the work of understanding get something really worthwhile that they will then remember with just one word or phrase that neatly embodies the whole idea.

I understand "negative gynecology" now. It was weird and slowed me down at first, but I've done the work, it didn't take that long, and now I've got it and can carry it around conveniently in my head.

Darrell said...

Does he know how to get Google/Blogger to stop deleting my comments and give you a way to restore them if the system fails? I'm thinking no.

David Begley said...

“A signature theme of his work is the persistence of ancient urges in supposedly advanced societies. In 2006, he published a book arguing that the contemporary revolt against globalization can be seen as a misguided expression of 'noble' sentiments ....”

Tribalism is hardwired into our reptilian brains. See, e.g., the Olympics, La Raza, Islam v. Infidels.

Darrell said...

Does he know how to get Google/Blogger to stop deleting my comments and give you a way to restore them if the system fails? I'm thinking no.

Beloved Commenter AReasonableMan said...

Sloterdijk said ...
In democracies, there is always an oligarchic element, but Trump makes it extremely, comically visible.


The continuing rise of the oligarchs underlies much of the current frustration within liberal democracies. To demand egalitarianism in the form of progressive taxation when the oligarchs so blatantly evade such egalitarianism is unsustainable.

Ann Althouse said...

"Does he know how to get Google/Blogger to stop deleting my comments and give you a way to restore them if the system fails? I'm thinking no."

At least I can get into the spam folder now. I released 3 things of yours just now.

You are the only person this happens to, and I have no idea why.

Fernandinande said...

even speculated about genetic enhancement

Gasp!

A car is like a Celebrity Philosopher on wheels, flatalitically propelating itself acrosswise the continentistic expansement by emissionation of hot air from its tailpipe.

Fernandinande said...

but I've done the work, it didn't take that long, and now I've got it and can carry it around conveniently in my head.

As some people asked the other day: "Are you drunk or trolling?"

John Lynch said...

"Sloterdijk replied impatiently. 'The Americans gave us this idea of multiculturalism that suited their society fine, but which, as software, is not compatible with our German hardware of the welfare state,' he said. 'There’s this family metaphor spreading everywhere: the idea that all of humanity is our family. That idea helped destroy the Roman Empire. Now we’re in danger of letting that metaphor get out of control all over again. People are not ready to feel the full pressure of coexistence with billions of their contemporaries.' He went on, 'In the past, geography created discretionary boundaries between nations and cultures. Distances that were difficult to overcome allowed for mental and political space.' Space and distance, he argued, had allowed for a kind of liberality and generosity that was now under siege—by refugees, by social media, by everything."

The Germans need their greatest minds in order to say what a cab driver anywhere else knows already.

Peter said...

@ Colin:

Anyone who not only excessively uses jargon but appears to invent their own to clutter their own phrasing

That's the way continental philosophy works. In the Anglo-American empirical tradition, you are supposed to back up your theories with evidence, but they just jump from one abstruse generality to another, often with neologisms and never-ending gobbledygook. The test isn't evidence, it's logical deduction (I think). I prefer our way in principle, but it has made us slaves to scientism and statistics that are confusing, biased and largely inaccessible and untestable by laymen. There's not much authority these days for experience, anecdotes or other variations of "what yer lyin's eyes tell you".

Roger Sweeny said...

Oh, my God. Are we never rid of semi-Freudian crap? Maybe that sort of thinking is an "ancient urge" that persists.

buwaya said...

The American idea of multiculturalism is very new, post-1960s.
Prior to that it was assimilation, taking foreign peoples and making them Americans. In every way, not just in terms of civic religion.

Which is also a problem for Europeans, but a different one.

Bob Boyd said...

"so get your head out of the toilet."

You're the one who put it in there.
Althouse gives her readers a morning swirly.

Darrell said...

You are the only person this happens to, and I have no idea why.

It sounds like I should get set for a windfall from Google/Blogger. Targeted discrimination.

John Lynch said...

It must be the avatar.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Winkleheimer said...

A signature theme of his work is the persistence of ancient urges in supposedly advanced societies.

Sounds like the basis of an article for The Journal of NO SHIT! REALLY!? studies.

One of the advantages of reading the Bible and any ancient literature is that it allows the reader to understand that human nature has not and will not change, absent actual genetic meddling, and then the result will not be human. That's why modern education continues to discourage it. The modern managerial class really believes that if we just use the correct methods we will be able to raise children that will be just like the folks in Star Trek. Free of greed, working only for the common good. Who determines what is the common good is never explored though.

Narayanan said...

Got it. Each cab driver is negative gynecologist. Will remember that next I see a taxi.

rhhardin said...

Needs more ambivalence.

Fernandinande said...

Ron Winkleheimer said...
One of the advantages of reading the Bible and any ancient literature is that it allows the reader to understand that human nature has not and will not change,


Human nature has changed and it's still changing.

absent actual genetic meddling, and then the result will not be human.

LOL. "Genetic meddling" = evolution, and modern humans are genetically different from the humans of the past.

Here's a question for bible-readers: at what point in time did humans become officially human? Is it when they, er, ah, um, stopped evolving?

Expat(ish) said...

I would think there is room for an infinite number of negative gynecologies in one's head.

If you have enough negative gynecology in your head, is it like the Tardis?

-XC

Sebastian said...

"The Americans gave us this idea of multiculturalism that suited their society fine, but which, as software, is not compatible with our German hardware of the welfare state,' he said." Leaving aside whether "the Americans" came up with multiculturalism--cab drivers know it, scholars know it, but for a prominent intellectual to state it publicly still breaks a European taboo.

The deeper question for Germans is whether German multiculturalism (Prussia vs. Bavaria vs. Westfalen etc.) was really compatible with the hardware of the nation-state. Arguably, it led to all their troubles, first under the Kaiser, then under Hitler, as whipped-up nationalism covered cultural fissures.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Human nature has changed and it's still changing.

absent actual genetic meddling, and then the result will not be human.

LOL. "Genetic meddling" = evolution, and modern humans are genetically different from the humans of the past.

Here's a question for bible-readers: at what point in time did humans become officially human? Is it when they, er, ah, um, stopped evolving?


I didn't say we had stopped evolving. As for being genetically different from people in the past - another entry for The Journal of No Shit! Really!? Studies. I am also genetically different from a guy from Afghanistan or an Aleutian. So what? You still have your reptile brain. Let me tell you a little story. A guy I know auctions off houses at estate sales. In the course of doing this he was told about a house going up for sale where the elderly owner had died in the house and nobody had realized it for a week or two. She had three dogs. Little fluffy type dogs that got along together just fine. Different varieties of dog, but still dogs. Well apparently those dogs got hungry but couldn't get to the body, and they were trapped in the house. Only one of them survived.

Human nature hasn't changed. The environment has changed. We all want to eat and have sex. How we go about achieving those ends is a product of our environment which, for most people in the West is pretty much a post scarcity environment. Even poor people are fat and have cell phones. But if that prosperity came to an end you would see just how much human nature had changed.

By the way, while I am a Christian, you don't have to be a one to read the Bible. You just have to have a basic curiosity about one of the fundamental texts of the Western Tradition.

Simon Kenton said...

Like the Tardis? Not so very. Women's uterii are a set of trans-temporal Russian Dolls, and grokking negative gynecology (as has our hostess) Rdollifies one's intellect. See thou do it not.

Paco Wové said...

"To demand egalitarianism in the form of progressive taxation when the oligarchs so blatantly evade such egalitarianism"

I'm finding myself becoming more open to the idea of crushingly punitive estate taxes. Sure, Carnegie gave us all those libraries, but what have today's plutocrats done that hasn't fucked things up even more?

Anonymous said...

John Lynch: The Germans need their greatest minds in order to say what a cab driver anywhere else knows already.

Some people need to hear it from some kind of authority figure before they'll take it seriously.

That bit you quoted was good, though. Fairly straightforward, but tarted up with enough Teutonic concept-speak that it could get through a few goodthinking thick-heads.

He's wrong that the current American notion of "multiculturalism" suits us fine, though. (Though its source is the United States; its propaganda arm bankrolled by you and me.) As buwaya points out, it's a post-60s thing, and has little too do with the traditional American attitude.

Anonymous said...

Fernandistein: LOL. "Genetic meddling" = evolution, and modern humans are genetically different from the humans of the past.

Yes, we are, but not in ways that correspond to anything progs think about human nature. And we're hardly different enough that we can't understand or learn from literature from a few thousand years ago.

We've haven't yet evolved into the obedient, complacent, soylent-imbibing cubicle drones of the prog totalitarian's wet-dreams.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Clearly, this could not relate to anything in today's world.

"My son, if sinful men entice you,
do not give in to them.
If they say, “Come along with us;
let’s lie in wait for innocent blood,
let’s ambush some harmless soul;
let’s swallow them alive, like the grave,
and whole, like those who go down to the pit;
we will get all sorts of valuable things
and fill our houses with plunder;
cast lots with us;
we will all share the loot”—
my son, do not go along with them,
do not set foot on their paths;"

Proverbs 1:10-15

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Oh, wait.

http://www.streetgangs.com/cities/chicago

Anonymous said...

AA: You [Darrell] are the only person this happens to, and I have no idea why.

I recall Paco complaining about this not too long ago. So don't feel too persecuted, Darrell. Though Google probably does hate both of you and wants your comments dead.

Earnest Prole said...

I prefer current Germany to its alternative tribal version.

tcrosse said...

All prosy dull society sinners, who chatter and bleat and bore, are sent to hear sermons from mystical Germans who preach from ten to four.
- W.S. Gilbert

Fernandinande said...

Ron Winkleheimer said...
I didn't say we had stopped evolving.


At what point in time did humans become officially human?

As for being genetically different from people in the past - another entry for The Journal of No Shit! Really!? Studies.

Genes control behavior.

Different genes = different behavior = you're wrong.

By the way, while I am a Christian, you don't have to be a one to read the Bible.

The Journal of No Shit! Really!? Studies.

Angle-Dyne, Angelic Buzzard said...
Yes, we are, but not in ways that correspond to anything progs think about human nature.


Maybe I'll invest in The Journal of No Shit! Really!? Studies, it seems pretty popular.

Anonymous said...

Earnest Prole: I prefer current Germany to its alternative tribal version.

Current Germany is plenty tribalist. I guess you mean you prefer a tribalist Germany where only one of the tribes is German.

Anonymous said...

Fern - You're really tedious when you regress into "middle-school atheist" mode. (Yes honey, I'm sure you blew Ron's Christian mind with your question. Now run along.)

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Or this.

"we are struck by the fact, that after saying you would consult for the safety of your country, in all this discussion you have mentioned nothing which men might trust in and think to be saved by. Your strongest arguments depend upon hope and the future, and your actual resources are too scanty, as compared with those arrayed against you, for you to come out victorious."

Thucydides

The scary thing is that Fenandistein is a smart person. But he has been convinced that human nature has been fundamentally changed in a few thousand years because "evolution" and "genetics."

When I went to high school they mentioned the reptile brain and the limbic system. Which were also a part of evolution and went back several million years.

"The oldest, deepest, and smallest area is the reptilian brain.[2] The reptilian brain controls the heart, lungs, and other vital organs. It enables aggression, mating, and reaction to immediate danger.

Mammals evolved the limbic system. This is the middle layer of our brains, surrounding the reptilian brain. The physiological features unique to mammals are in the limbic brain, e.g., the hypothalamus system for keeping us warm.[citation needed]

The limbic brain also produces emotions. Emotions facilitate relationships. Mammals, unlike reptiles, care for their young. Mammals evolved brains hardwired for mother-child and other relationships.

The most common reaction a reptile has to its young is indifference; it lays its eggs and walks (or slithers) away. Mammals form close-knit, mutually nurturant social groups-families-in which members spend time touching and caring for one another. Parents nourish and safeguard their young, and each other, from the hostile world outside their group. A mammal will risk and sometimes lose its life to protect a child or mate from attack. A garter snake or salamander watches the death of its kin with an unblinking eye.[3]
—Thomas Lewis, Fari Amini, and Richard Lannon
A General Theory of Love (2000)

https://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Relationships/The_Evolution_of_the_Human_Brain

One human being might be less inclined to violence than another, and people in modern, western societies might be less inclined to violence than people in the past. Whether that's a genetic or on account of social conditioning I don't know. I suspect its a bit of both. But the basic nature has not changed. If violence is not a viable option some other method will be used to get that dopamine hit associated with sex and food.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

At what point in time did humans become officially human?

I believe the current theory is we emerged about 200,000 years ago. And a quick check of Wikipedia confirms that.

Fernandinande said...

Ron Winkleheimer said...
One of the advantages of reading the Bible and any ancient literature


One of the disadvantages is that they're almost completely false; you might as well read Batman comics or the crap from Celebrity Philosophers.

Angle-Dyne, Angelic Buzzard said...
Fern - You're really tedious when you regress into "middle-school atheist" mode.


And yet you're fine with the primitive superstitious crap.

(Yes honey, I'm sure you blew Ron's Christian mind with your question. Now run along.)

Said the superstitious tight-assed old biddy.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

(Yes honey, I'm sure you blew Ron's Christian mind with your question. Now run along.)

Yes, consider it officially blown. The thing is, I used to be an atheist, libertarian, skeptic geek. I've read everything Heinlein wrote and most of Asimov's. In fact, I have Asimov's guide to the Bible (and Shakespeare.) I know all the arguments and all the pop culture references. Hell, when I was a teenager I was one of the few people who actually read The Guardians of the Galaxy comic books. I didn't become a Christian because I was indoctrinated into it. And I'm not stupid. But, hey, Ferd, keep on arguing with that Christian caricature in your head. I used to do that too.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

One of the disadvantages is that they're almost completely false; you might as well read Batman comics or the crap from Celebrity Philosophers.

That's just weak.

Fernandinande said...

Mammals, unlike reptiles, care for their young.

Crocodiles and alligators also care for their young.

Ron Winkleheimer lied...
But he has been convinced that human nature has been fundamentally changed


No, I didn't say it had fundamentally changed.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

No, I didn't say it had fundamentally changed.

Well then what are we discussing? I made a post stating that ancient literature, including the Bible, shows that human nature hasn't changed. You then stated that it has (and made some snide remarks that were totally uncalled for) siting "evolution." I pointed out that structures in the brain that have evolved over millions of years have a great deal to do with human behavior, and now your back pedaling. I guess you expected some silly creationists stuff from me or something.

Crocodiles and alligators also care for their young

And cow birds lay their eggs in other bird's nests and abandon them. So what? You went full pedantic, never go full pedantic.

Fernandinande said...

Ron Winkleheimer said...
"No, I didn't say it had fundamentally changed."
Well then what are we discussing?


You said human nature hadn't changed. I said it had. Now, apparently, you agree that it has changed.

I believe the current theory is we emerged about 200,000 years ago. And a quick check of Wikipedia confirms that.

So you don't believe the bible stories either.

"Crocodiles and alligators also care for their young"
And cow birds lay their eggs in other bird's nests and abandon them. So what? You went full pedantic, never go full pedantic.


The guy you quoted made a false statement about reptiles. That's all.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

By the way, I love the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. And the post-credit scene of volume 2, that's totally Adam Warlock in that cocoon.

Anonymous said...

Fern: Said the superstitious tight-assed old biddy.

Lol.

I wonder if "Angle-Dyne, Superstitious Tight-Assed Old Biddy" is too long for a username. Hate to let it go to waste.

Fern, you made a bone-headed comment about the relevance of old literature that you can't defend. The point had nothing to do with anybody's religious beliefs, and the person making it evinced no lack of understanding of human evolution in his comment. You swung into snot-nosed mode and went off half-cocked because somebody used one of your trigger words ("bible"). You were wrong. Be an adult, own up, and let it go.

Anonymous said...

Ron: "You went full Ritmo, never go full Ritmo."

FTFY.

(Forgive my taking this liberty with your comment. Couldn't resist.)

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Now, apparently, you agree that it has changed.

Nope.

So you don't believe the bible stories either.

Somehow I don't think you really care about my views considering the inerrancy of the Bible. I'll just say that when the Bible talks about God taking us under his wing, I don't have to believe he has feathers.

The guy you quoted made a false statement about reptiles. That's all.

Even. Fuller. Pedantic.

n.n said...

... with Water Closet. Deep Plunger, recently aborted, is still plunging the depths of the DNC, swamp, affiliated press, and foreign assets.

Ron Winkleheimer said...

Anyway, I'm off to church for fellowship with other superstitious dolts and to worship the sky-fairy who is really just a prehistoric Mesopotamian thunder god.

wholelottasplainin said...


Blogger Jay Elink said...
>>Fernandistein said...
Ron Winkleheimer said...
One of the advantages of reading the Bible and any ancient literature is that it allows the reader to understand that human nature has not and will not change,

>>Human nature has changed and it's still changing.

absent actual genetic meddling, and then the result will not be human.

>>LOL. "Genetic meddling" = evolution, and modern humans are genetically different from the humans of the past.

Here's a question for bible-readers: at what point in time did humans become officially human? Is it when they, er, ah, um, stopped evolving?

**************************************

Well, why not actually offer some evidence for those empty assertions, instead of throwing them out there as if they were obvious?

How EXACTLY do humans behave differently than they did in the past? IOW how is modern human nature different?

Can you point to examples from history or literature to demonstrate that "humans would never do that today"?

Haven't we seen in modern times that attempts to change human nature ("Homo Sovieticus", for example) have always failed?


YoungHegelian said...

Many Germans define themselves by their moral rectitude

This is, in my limited experience, true. What they never seem to notice is that the rest of the world doesn't grant them the moral status that they grant to themselves. Perhaps, the same the same can be said about us Americans....

...drawn on right-wing thinkers such as Martin Heidegger...

If "drawing on" Martin Heidegger makes you right-wing, then the majority of the post-war French Left didn't get the memo. And, oh yes, they knew of his Nazi sympathies, they just kept the news to themselves. Strangely enough, most of Heidegger's influence has been on the Left everywhere. Well, at least, so far.

Didn't the whack-job feminist Mary Daly publish a book called Gyn-Ecology?

Earnest Prole said...

Current Germany is plenty tribalist.

I’m contrasting it against military-parade Germany.

Anonymous said...

EP: I’m contrasting it against military-parade Germany.

Yeah, I know, and I was pointing it that the current Germany isn't non-tribal.

Earnest Prole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ron Winkleheimer said...

I'm back. You know, I'm kinda saddened at the state of Internet Atheism today. When I was arguing against the existence of God, I had game.

Hysterical declarations against even reading the Bible are rather silly considering that one of the smartest guys that ever argued the atheist case wrote a guide to it.

https://www.amazon.com/Asimovs-Guide-Bible-Testaments-Volumes/dp/B000NZZQHY/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1519585658&sr=8-2&keywords=asimov%27s+guide+to+the+bible+the+old+and+new+testaments

Fern, can you show me on the doll where the Bible touched you?

Earnest Prole said...

For me the tell-tale tribal sign is when German men start walking like geese in unison.

Jose_K said...

Martin Heidegger .. the Nazi that Hannah Arendt was defending with her Banality of evil expression.
But also Sartre´s inspiration and acclaimed by both the left and right as the XX top philosopher. Jean Francois Revel wrote a good piece about why his philosophy is useless

Jose_K said...

For all the jokes about Germans, 45% of Americans are, me included , descendants of Germans.
In Wisconsin, far higher %

Anonymous said...

EP: For me the tell-tale tribal sign is when German men start walking like geese in unison.

That's a German tribal sign. The tribal signs for the other tribes in tribalist current Germany are different.

SDaly said...

"That article is terrible, just an endless stream of jibberish."

"Where was it published?"

"I found it in Continent."

"You've already said that, but where was it published?"

Jupiter said...

"Maybe with someone writing like Sloterdijk, the idea is to offer so much, in a rich dense form, that those who slow down and do the work of understanding get something really worthwhile that they will then remember with just one word or phrase that neatly embodies the whole idea."

Wrong. This is a perfect example of pseudo-sophisticated academic Rohrschach mumbo-jumbo. The fact that you believe you know what it means does not mean that it has a meaning.

William said...

I read the article. It doesn't make you want to delve deeper into his work. I'm sure he's very smart, but I don't know if you'd learn much reading his books. Lenin wrote over fifty books, each of them over six hundred pages long. I'm sure Lenin was very smart, but I don't know if you'd learn much reading his books. Ditto Woodrow Wilson. He wrote a lot of books too........Jordan Peterson looks like he's very smart. I haven't read any of his books, but they look like they might be worth the trouble. Bertrand Russell was flaky in his dotage, but some of his books are definitely worth reading. There aren't that many very smart people worth reading.

Ann Althouse said...

@jose

Lower, per Wikipedia

“The six largest ancestry groups in Wisconsin are: German (42.6%), Irish (10.9%), Polish (9.3%), Norwegian (8.5%), English (6.5%), and Italian (6.1%).[78] German is the most common ancestry in every county in the state, except Menominee, Trempealeau and Vernon.[79] Wisconsin has the highest percentage of residents of Polish ancestry of any state.[78]”

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Inkling said...

Slotterdijk quote: Many Germans define themselves by their moral rectitude, as exhibited by their reckoning with the Nazi past and, more recently, by the government’s decision to accept more refugees from the Syrian civil war than any other Western country.

No, this has another cause. Many Germans are simply thinking as badly as they did a century and more before Hitler. Germans, particularly the more educated ones, lose themselves in abstractions, which they call 'ideals", ignoring concrete realities. In this case, it's the madness of 'redeeming' themselves from the violence and Jew-hatred of Nazism by inviting in the most violent, Jew-hating people on the planet.

Europeans long ago recognized what might be called the German Problem. About the time of the Napoleonic wars, there was a saying: "God has given to the British the kingdom of the sea, the French the kingdom of the land, and the Germans the kingdom of the air. The first refers to the power of the Royal Navy and the second to the French army, the largest in Europe. But the last isn't a reference to an air force. There were no such military forces then. Instead, it's a reference to the German propensity to living in airy illusion, what some called "cloud coo-coo land."

That's what we seeing here. The pastor of an international church in Munich told me why he thought that was so. Is a product of an education system that most values the abstracts taught to an elite in gymnasiums. They are literally taught to value abstractions over realities. That's Merkel's "We can do it" said of Syrian immigrants when Germany has yet to get the Turkish immigration of the 1960s to fit into their society.

--Michael W. Perry, Chesterton on War and Peace (GKC's views of Germanic culture at the time of WWI)