Sloterdijk on the Seven Aspects of the Phenomenon of Transcendence

See Peter Sloterdijk, God’s Zeal: The Battle of the Three Monotheisms (Cambridge: Polity, 2009) 4-17.

Of the seven aspects of the high-risk phenomenon of transcendence, Sloterdijk argues that four are “capable of being critically translated into worldly and functional categories”—and thus can be known to be “incorrect”; two resist such translation, because they’re mysterious—and thus can only be imagined; one is “undecidable”—and thus must be taken as writ.

The first four . . .

1. we misunderstand slowness: “slow” (intergenerational) phenomena are consigned to the realm of the unobservable, e.g., creation (as against evolution);

2. we misunderstand vehemence: great internal stress is attributed to external forces, e.g., battle frenzy, kenosis;

3. we misunderstand the inaccessibility of the other: unresponsiveness is over-interpreted, e.g., God as the ultimate other;

4. we ignore immune systems: self-defence, therapeutic (holistic) or cathartic (excessive), is systematised, i.e., universalised or exaggerated, e.g., zeal or faith;

The next two . . .

5. we imagine a superior intellect or its product as our paradigm (point of comparison), e.g., pathomathy (learning through suffering) or hermeneutics (interpretation);

6. we imagine a place of the dead, a heterotopia or elsewhere neither somewhere nor nowhere, e.g., Nirvana;

And the final one . . .

7. we take revelation to be a message from beyond to which we must submit.

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