This is the fourth set of reflections on Peter Sloterdijk’s You Must Change Your Life: On Anthropotechnics (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2013). The first set of reflections can be read here.
Let us review what we know about Stoterdijk’s basic philosophical orientation.
1.) Human beings are first and foremost practicing animals. Most practice what they do implicitly: even an ignoramus, Stoterdijk contends, has to ‘work hard’ to continue to be ignorant. (Imagine him continuing to get a math problem wrong and continuing to work on it in this wrongheaded fashion.) Meanwhile, the few and the rare are immersed in explicit training programs aimed at radically changing their lives.
2.) Stoterdijk’s most elementary question is, ‘How does one become extraordinary?’ The other way of articulating the question is, ‘How is it possible for a human being to uproot himself from his poor habits?’
3.) Stoterdijk is an elitist in the sense that he insists that some human beings dare to be extraordinary while most do not. He is not so much concerned with what impediments stand in the way of virtuosity as he is to analyze the project of extraordinary human beings.