Duane Davis Review of Sloterdijk’s Rage and Time

A new review has just been published of Peter Sloterdijk’s Rage and Time: A Psychopolitical Investigation, trans. Mario Wenning (Columbia UP, 2010).

It offers a very useful summary of the text — although it’s pretty scathing of Sloterdijk’s style and scholarship:

Sloterdijk argues that our age is doomed because of our inability to understand and address our rage. He turns our attention back to Plato’s account of thymos (all too briefly) as an integral part of our soul and of our society. Contemporary society, by contrast, has either relegated our spirit and its rage to political incorrectness or else appealed to rage in unfortunate and often destructive ways. Along the way, Sloterdijk offers glosses on Marxism, capitalism, psychoanalysis, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. He frames each of these movements in terms of what he terms their “thymotic” aspects. His accounts are irreverent, often interesting, playful, perhaps dangerously misleading, and worst of all obstructive of real critique.

Kinda misses the polemic nature of Sloterdijk’s work, which takes as its model Nietzsche’s Gedankenexperiment, The Birth of Tragedy from the Spirit of Music (1872). As a lapsed [?] Heideggerian, Sloterdijk would, of course, think polemic in the sense of polemos, i.e. Auseinandersetzung (lit. conflict, conversation, analysis), a.k.a. difference, that “setting apart from one another that serves essentially to bring together, a contest that unites” (Heidegger, Nietzsche: The Will to Power as Art 231). But there is something more plainly polemical — “thymotic” even — about his work, in that he sets it against the polite scholarly tradition that people like Duane Davis represent.

Here is the review as a Word document for annotation: Peter Sloterdijk, Rage and Time (2010): Review by Duane Davis (docx formatted in MLA style). An excerpt of Rage and Time appears here.


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