Saturday, March 28, 2009

Sloterdijk on the "world house"

From a lecture given earlier this semester at the GSD by the philosopher, Peter Sloterdijk:
"We are simply not capable of continuing the old cosmology of ancient Europe that rested on equating the house and home with the world. Classical metaphysics is a phantasm on an implicit motif that was highlighted in only a few places, e.g., by Hegel and Heidegger, namely that the world must itself be construed as having the character of a house and that people in Western culture should be grasped not only as mortals, but also as house residents. Their relation to the world as a whole is that of inhabitants in a crowded building called cosmos. So the questions are, 'Why should modern thought bid goodbye to this equation of world and house? Why do we need a new image in order to designate how modern man lives in social and architectural containers? Why do I propose the concept of foams?'

"The simple answer is: Because since the Enlightenment we have no longer needed a universal house in order to find the world a place worthy of inhabiting. What suffices is a unité d’habitation, a stackable number of inhabitable cells. Through the motif of the inhabited cell I can uphold the spherical imperative that applies to all forms of human life but does not presuppose cosmic totalization. The stacking of cells in an apartment block, for instance, no longer generates the classical world/house entity, but an architectural foam, a multi-chambered system made of relatively stabilized personal worlds."
Sloterdijk would consider the term ecology outmoded, referring to a global "world house" that only makes sense in a classical metaphysics. Ecological urbanism may construe urbanism as part of a system out of scale with the types of interventions architects/urbanists are in a position to make. This may explain the unusual presence of public officials at the conference...

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