Thymotic Politics: Sloterdijk, Strauss, and Neoconservatism

Hancock, David (2015) Thymotic Politics: Sloterdijk, Strauss, and Neoconservatism. symplokē, 23 (1-2). pp. 269-289. ISSN 1069-0697

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Peter Sloterdijk's Rage and Time (2006) argues for the political significance of rage. To do this Sloterdijk turns to the Greek concept thymos which "signifies the impulsive centre of the proud self" (2006, 11). He places rage, or thymos, at the center of a historical narrative spanning Homeric myth, Christian theology and revolutionary politics. Sloterdijk emphasises the Homeric form of thymos through the figure of Achilles, as "rage celebrates a force that frees human beings from vegetable numbness" (2006, 5). Sloterdijk's contention is that "we have not only stopped to judge and feel like the people of old, we secretly despise them for remaining 'children of their time'" (2006, 5). The loss of an understanding of rage, the dynamic force of the political, leaves modern Western culture cut-off from the political itself. We may infer that the contemporary subject is, without access to rage, trapped in this state of "vegetable numbness." Furthermore, rage is described as that which elevates the human subject; "wherever rage flames up... the identification of the human being with his driving forces resalises itself" (2006, 10). The thymotic soul is identified with the human, but "for everyday people the evidence of the moment remains out of reach" (2006, 10). Those who have been domesticated through the city are cut off from thymos and therefore from self-realization. The "proud self" desires prestige which is reliant upon intersubjective relationships, in other words, what is being re-developed is a politics of recognition. Sloterdijk attempts to build what he calls a "theory of thymotic unities" (2006, 20) which defines political groups through thymotic tension, or lack thereof. Within this schema, rhetoric is the field upon which thymos is controlled. "Thymotic unities," the politics of group pride and recognition, acts as carriers of thymos within the context of city, with the city being the arena in which thymos is domesticated. Whithin the group " applied thymotics" (2006, 20). Rhetoric has the power to form a group by focusing individual rage, based on a supposed lack of recognition, towards collective action. Within the group, collective pride acts to satisfy one through the success of another. Organized politics acts as an "economy of rage" (2006,

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Date Deposited: 26 Jan 2016 16:14
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