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You Must Change Your Life

ISBN: 978-0-7456-4921-4
500 pages
January 2013, Polity
You Must Change Your Life (0745649211) cover image
In his major investigation into the nature of humans, Peter Sloterdijk presents a critique of myth - the myth of the return of religion. For it is not religion that is returning; rather, there is something else quite profound that is taking on increasing significance in the present: the human as a practising, training being, one that creates itself through exercises and thereby transcends itself. Rainer Maria Rilke formulated the drive towards such self-training in the early twentieth century in the imperative 'You must change your life'.

In making his case for the expansion of the practice zone for individuals and for society as a whole, Sloterdijk develops a fundamental and fundamentally new anthropology. The core of his science of the human being is an insight into the self-formation of all things human. The activity of both individuals and collectives constantly comes back to affect them: work affects the worker, communication the communicator, feelings the feeler.

It is those humans who engage expressly in practice that embody this mode of existence most clearly: farmers, workers, warriors, writers, yogis, rhetoricians, musicians or models. By examining their training plans and peak performances, this book offers a panorama of exercises that are necessary to be, and remain, a human being.

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  • Introduction: On the Anthropotechnic Turn
  • The Planet of the Practising
  • 1 The Command from the Stone
  • Rilke's Experience
  • 2 Remote View of the Ascetic Planet
  • Nietzsche's Antiquity Project
  • 3 Only Cripples Will Survive
  • Unthan's Lesson
  • 4 Last Hunger Art
  • Kafka's Circus Art
  • 5 Parisian Buddhism
  • Cioran's Exercises
  • Transition: Religions Do Not Exist
  • From Pierre de Coubertin to L. Ron Hubbard
  • I The Conquest of the Improbable
  • For an Acrobatic Ethics
  • Programme
  • 1 Height Psychology
  • The Doctrine of Upward Propagation and the Meaning of 'Over'
  • 2 'Culture Is a Monastic Rule'
  • Twilight of the Life Forms, Disciplinics
  • 3 Sleepless in Ephesus
  • On the Demons of Habit and Their Taming Through First Theory
  • 4 Habitus and Inertia
  • On the Base Camps of the Practising Life
  • 5 Cur Homo Artista
  • On the Ease of the Impossible
  • II Exaggeration Procedures
  • Backdrop: Retreats into Unusualness
  • 6 First Eccentricity
  • On the Separation of the Practising and Their Soliloquies
  • 7 The Complete and the Incomplete
  • How the Spirit of Perfection Entangles the Practising in Stories
  • 8 Master Games
  • Trainers as Guarantors of the Art of Exaggeration
  • 9 Change of Trainer and Revolution
  • On Conversions and Opportunistic Turns
  • III The Exercises of the Moderns
  • Prospect: The Re-Secularization of the Withdrawn Subject
  • 10 Art with Humans
  • In the Arsenals of Anthropotechnics
  • 11 In the Auto-Operatively Curved Space
  • New Human Beings Between Anaesthesia and Biopolitics
  • 12 Exercises and Misexercises
  • The Critique of Repetition
  • Retrospective
  • From the Re-Embedding of the Subject to the Relapse into Total Care
  • Outlook
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Peter Sloterdijk is Professor of Philosophy and Aesthetics at the Karlsruhe School of Design and the author of many works including Critique of Cynical Reason.
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"Breathtaking ... A superb and wide-ranging analysis of those moderns who have refused to be pampered or to dwell in capitalist decadence."
The Guardian

"Make(s) it possible to begin to come to grips with Sloterdijk as a stirring and eclectic thinker, who addresses himself boldly to the most important problems of our age."
New Republic

"A tour de force that engages the history of philosophy, religion, and thought, both Western and Eastern, in ways that make you think deeply about the evolution of the human being these past few thousand years."
Los Angeles Review of Books

"Sloterdijk is both seriously learned and brilliantly creative, and he has a talent for wit. He deserves shelf-space alongside Nietzsche, Heidegger and Foucault."
New Humanist

"Sloterdijk has constructed in this beautiful text a supreme heterotopology - a place from which to think and see differently."
Eduardo Mendieta, Stony Brook University

"A challenging, powerful, and at times frustrating read. Sloterdijk ranges widely across literatures and topics, inspiring and provoking in equal measure. He is fortunate to have Wieland Hoban as his excellent translator. A very good antidote to the chicken-soup banalities of other life-changing philosophy."
Stuart Elden, Durham University

"Challenging the pious and self-righteous alarm of those who have declared war on the return to religion, Sloterdijk – in his typically original irreverence – argues that we cannot see today’s religiosity as any sort of return. What is really at stake is the formation of the self through practices. Charting a path beyond liberal critiques of religion and post-secular pseudo-returns to spirit, Sloterdijk provides a genuinely twenty-first century approach to the problem of life-formation. This book opens up new ways of thinking about life after humanism without lapsing into the simple affirmations of the post-human."
Claire Colebrook, Penn State University

"Peter Sloterdijk has assembled in this book the most amazing series of practices invented in history to hold humans souls suspended to a virtual hook slightly above their head. The result is a totally original analysis of religion by the most important philosopher or rather educator of today."
Bruno Latour, Ecole des mines, Paris
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