I’ve just received word that the online journal Cosmos and History will soon publish an article I completed on the work of Pierre Hadot and Peter Sloterdijk. Readers of this blog are no doubt already familiar with C&H, but if you haven’t visited their site before you’ll find a substantial and worth-while back catalogue of articles available for free. I’m told my essay will appear online in March. The article gives a fuller voice to a few ideas I’ve been ruminating on (see for example here and here). I’ll be sure to post the link to the full essay when it’s published. For now, I’m including below my abstract for the paper.
THE SIDE VIEW:
HADOT AND SLOTERDIJK ON THE PRACTICE OF PHILOSOPHY
This essay describes Peter Sloterdijk’s “side view” of philosophy. That is, it describes the self-disciplines that make philosophical activity possible. Along similar lines, the paper draws on the work of Pierre Hadot, who also reads philosophy as an askēsis or exercise of self-transformation. Bringing together the work of Sloterdijk and Hadot, the essay reframes the question, What is Philosophy? by asking, Who is the philosopher? To this end, the essays synthesizes the work of Hadot and Sloterdijk, describing first the philosopher’s exercises of self-transformation, then their relation to the city and the community at a large, and finally their connection to the practice zones, enclaves, and microclimates, to use Sloterdijk’s terms, that enable the philosopher to perform certain maneuvers in thought. The paper concludes with an assessment of Sloterdijk’s global view of human practice—which he calls “the planet of the practicing”—to suggest that a planetary perspective should hold a privileged view for future philosophical inquiries. Who are the philosophers? They are the practitioners of planet Earth, the ascetic planet.
congrats, looking forward to you fleshing out what in particular philosophers bring to such efforts as your project continues, do you see this essay as descriptive or more prescriptive?
It’s descriptive (actually, you’ve already seen the draft it’s based on), but it’s written in a way that hopefully will persuade folks that reading philosophy as Hadot and Sloterdijk do will open up some prescriptions—maybe prescriptions without (pharmaceutical) prescriptions!
not sure tho that H&S where describing what they actually learned to do themselves, am sure that these are very fringe elements of the general philo population, I think ultimately your project is one of creating a new identity for philo which is much needed.
Yeah, I agree, to some extent. I’ve had a few conversations along these lines with non-philo folks about prescriptive dimensions and it ends up sounding to them like psychology or mindfulness or self-help or something along those lines.
There’s probably something to that, but of course it reads the history backwards and I think robs philosophers of some of their original insights and efforts (and as with de-coupling mindfulness from the larger Indian philosophical contexts probably misses some real gems).
So, new identity, sure, but also recovery, recovery with new insights, especially the empirical and experimental insights of the sciences, where I agree with you that philosophy doesn’t help very much. Keeping these practices integrated but domain-specific is just very difficult, as you know.
I don’t see that tension if you employ enactivism (neuro-phenomenology, etc), that people think of these as distinct realms/categories just underlines the need for your work.