Many people read Sloterdijk’s SPHERES trilogy too literal-mindedly and concretistically, whereas I can only make it work for me by reading it metaphorically and imaginatively, by way of the imaginal vision advocated by the post-Jungian analyst James Hillman.
Such reductionist readers are searching for too direct a link with their own experiences, while also conceiving these experiences literalistically. They proceed in straight lines to read a book that is written and requires to be read spherically.
Part of what is at stake in empiricism beyond its naive egocentric forms is the critique of experience, of its partiality and one-sidedness, and its defence of the need to re-imagine and to re-conceptualise our experiences.
I think this sort of misreading is in part provoked by Sloterdijk’s style. Experience is not a brute given, to be taken only literally. Yet Sloterdijk gives us an ontogenetic narrative that describes the individuals progress from womb to cosmos.
Sloterdijk is at pains to show us the need for imaginative participation from the start, on the threshold of the first volume (BUBBLES) with his meditation on the apocryphal image of the invocation “Let no one ignorant of geometry enter here” inscribed, according to tradition, over the entrance to Plato’s Academy, and his replacement of this intellectualist requirement with the less élitist maxim:
let no one enter who is unwilling to praise transference and to refute solitude.
Misreadings often come when readers have have the wrong (because too personalistic) set of transferences and become more interested in dwelling on and sharing their own experiences, and so have no real transference to (love of) philosophy nor to Sloterdijk’s books.