- Georg Simmel
region = Western Philosophy
color = #B0C4DE
caption = Georg Simmel
name = Georg Simmel
birth = March 1, 1858
Berlin, Kingdom of Prussia
death = death date and age|1918|09|28|1858|03|01 Strassburg,
Georg Simmel (March 1, 1858 – September 28, 1918) was one of the first generation of German sociologists. His studies pioneered the concept of
social structure, and he was a key precursor of social networkanalysis. [Wellman, Barry. 1988. "Structural Analysis: From Method and Metaphor to Theory and Substance." Pp. 19-61 in "Social Structures: A Network Approach", edited by Barry Wellman and S.D. Berkowitz. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press; Linton Freeman, "The Development of Social Network Analysis." Vancouver: Empirical Press. ] His most famous works today are "The Philosophy of Money", "The Stranger", "The Web of Group Affiliation, and "The Metropolis and Mental Life".
Simmel was born in
Berlin, Germany, as the youngest of seven children. His father was a partner in a chocolate factory. When he died in 1874, Julius Friedländer, the founder of an international music publishing house adopted him and endowed him with a large fortune enabling him to become a scholar. [http://socio.ch/sim/bio.htm Sociology in Switzerland, "Georg Simmel: Biographic Information"]
His religious background was complicated but germane to his marginal status in German academia. He was born to a prosperous
Jewish business family, but his father became a Roman Catholic. His mother's family was originally Jewish, but she was a Lutheran. Georg Simmel, himself, was baptizedas a Protestantwhen he was a child. [Simmel, Georg, and Kurt H. Wolff. The Sociology of Georg Simmel. Glencoe, Ill.,: Free Press, 1950.]
philosophyand history(but he also studied social psychologyand Medieval Italian) at the University of Berlin. In 1881 he received his doctorate for his thesis "The Nature of Matter According to Kant's Physical Monadology". He became a " Privatdozent" at the University of Berlin in 1885, officially lecturing in philosophy but also in ethics, logic, pessimism, art, psychologyand sociology. His lectures were not only popular inside the university, but attracted the intellectual elite of Berlin as well.
Although his applications for vacant chairs at German universities were supported by
Max Weber, Simmel remained an academic outsider. Only in 1901 was he elevated to the rank of extraordinary professor (full professor but without a chair; see the German section at Professor). At that time he was well-known throughout Europe and America and was seen as a man of great eminence.
Simmel nevertheless continued his intellectual and academic work, taking part in artistic circles as well as being a cofounder of the
German Society for Sociology, together with Ferdinand Tönniesand Max Weber. This life at the meeting point of university and society, arts and philosophy was possible because Simmel had been the heir to a fortune from his appointed guardian.
He befriended many well-known men, e.g.
Max Weber, Rainer Maria Rilke, Stefan Georgeand Edmund Husserl.
In 1890 he married Gertrud Kinel. A philosopher in her own right, she published under the
pseudonym Marie-Luise Enckendorf. They lived a sheltered and bourgeois life, their home becoming a venue for cultivated gatherings in the tradition of the salon. They bore one son, Hans Eugen.
Only in 1914 did Simmel receive an ordinary professorship with chair, at the then German University of Strassburg. Because of the outbreak of
World War I, all academic activities and lectures were halted as lecture halls were converted to military hospitals. In 1915 he applied - without success - for a chair at the University of Heidelberg.
Prior to the outbreak of World War I, Simmel had not been very interested in contemporary history, but rather in looking at the interactions, art and philosophy of his time. However, after its start, he was interested in its unfolding. Yet, he seems to give conflicting opinions of events, being a supporter in "Germany's inner transformation", more objective in "the idea of Europe" and a critic in "The crisis of culture".
Eventually, Simmel appears to have grown tired of the war, especially in the year of his death. He stopped reading the paper and withdrew to the Black Forest to finish his book. Shortly before the end of the war in 1918, he died from liver cancer in Strassburg.
immel on the Metropolis
One of Simmel's most widely read essays is "The Metropolis and Mental Life (Die Großstadt und das Geistesleben)" from 1903, which was originally given as one of a series of lectures on all aspects of city life by experts in various fields, ranging from science and religion to art. The series was conducted alongside the
Dresdencities exhibition of 1903. Simmel was originally asked to lecture on the role of intellectual (or scholarly) life in the big city, but he effectively reversed the topic in order to analyze the effects of the big city on the mind of the individual. As a result, when the lectures were published as essays in a book, to fill the gap, the series editor had to supply an essay on the original topic himself.
Unfortunately for Simmel, "The Metropolis and Mental Life" was not particularly well received during his time. The organizers of the exhibition were appalled due to its negativity toward city life. However, during the twenties the essay was influential on the thinking of Robert E. Park and other American sociologists at the University of Chicago who collectively became known as the "Chicago School". It gained wider circulation in the 1950s when it was translated into English and published as part of Kurt Wolff's edited collection, "The Sociology of Georg Simmel", and now appears regularly on the reading lists of courses in urban studies and architecture history. However, it is important to note that the notion of the blasé is actually not the central or final point of the essay, but is part of a description of a sequence of states in an irreversible transformation of the mind. In other words, Simmel does not quite say that the big city has an overall negative effect on the mind or the self, even as he suggests that it undergoes permanent changes. It is perhaps this ambiguity that gave the essay a lasting place in the discourse on the metropolis.
This essay requires a much closer, more careful reading, not only in order to properly understand Simmel's argument, but also because, over a century since its publication, it still captures the imagination. It is fascinating to ponder how Simmel, writing about cities at a time when the populations of only a few European cities topped one million and the automobile was still a rarely-sighted, slow-moving object, so accurately described the intense effects that mechanized, brightly-lit cities like New York or Tokyo would eventually have on people's perception many decades after his death.
immel on sociability
Simmel refers to "all the forms of association by which a mere sum of separate individuals are made into a 'society,'"Simmel, 157] which he describes as a, "higher unity," composed of individuals. He was especially fascinated, it seems, by the, "impulse to sociability in man," which he described as "associations... [through which] the solitariness of the individuals is resolved into togetherness, a union with others,"Simmel, 158] a process he describes by which, "the impulse to sociability distils, as it were, out of the realities of social life the pure essence of association," and "through which a unity is made," which he also refers to as, "the free-playing, interacting interdependence of individuals."
He defines sociability as, "the play-form of association," driven by, "amicability, breeding, cordiality and attractiveness of all kinds." In order for this free association to occur, he says, "the personalities must not emphasize themselves too individually...with too much abandon and aggressiveness." He also describes, "this world of sociability...a democracy of equals...without friction," so long as people blend together in a spirit of fun and affection to, "bring about among themselves a pure interaction free of any disturbing material accent." [Simmel, 159] As so many social interactions are no entirely of this sweet character, one has to conclude that Simmel is describing a somewhat idealised view of the best types of human interaction, and by no means the most typical or average type.
The same can be said of Simmel when he says that, "the vitality of real individuals, in their sensitivities and attractions, in the fullness of their impulses and convictions...is but a symbol of life, as it shows itself in the flow of a lightly amusing play," [Simmel, 162] or when he adds: "a symbolic play, in whose aesthetic charm all the finest and most highly sublimated dynamics of social existence and its riches are gathered." [Simmel, 163] Again, one has to conclude that he is describing human interactions at their idealised best and not the more typical ones, which tend to fall a long way short of his descriptions.
All above quotes are from Simmel's "The Sociology of Sociability." [Georg Simmel: "The Sociology of Sociability" [trans. by Everett C Hughes] , Amer Jnl of Sociol, 55.3, Nov 1949, pp.254-261, originally from "Soziologie der Geselligkeit", his speech to 1st meeting of the German Sociol Society, 1911, reprinted in Talcott Parsons et al, "Theories of Society", 1961, [page numbers shown refer to the latter publication] ]
Influence on American sociology
Lewis A. Coserdrew heavily on Georg Simmel, in his "Sociological Theory" (1964) treating social conflict.
The work of Simmel
Simmel was known as an
essayistas well as author of sociological and philosophical books. Some of his major monographic works include:
* "Über sociale Differenzierung", Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1890 ["On Social Differentiation"]
* "Einleitung in die Moralwissenschaft", 2 vols, Berlin: Hertz, 1892-3 ["Introduction to the Science of Ethics"]
* "Die Probleme der Geschichtphilosophie", Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1892, 2nd edn 1905 ["The Problems of the Philosophy of History"]
* "Philosophie der Geldes", Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1900, 2nd edn 1907 ["The Philosophy of Money"]
* "Die Grosstädte und das Geistesleben", Dresden: Petermann, 1903 ["The Metropolis and Mental Life"]
* "Kant", Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1904, 6th edn 1924
* "Kant und Goethe", Berlin: Marquardt, 1906
* "Die Religion", Frankfurt am Main: Rütten & Loening, 1906, 2nd edn 1912
* "Schopenhauer und Nietzsche", Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1907
* "Schopenhauer and Nietzsche", University of Illinois Press, 1991, ISBN 0-252-06228-0
* "Soziologie", Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, 1908 ["Sociology: Investigations on the Forms of Sociation"]
* "Hauptprobleme der Philosophie", Leipzig: Göschen, 1910
* "Philosophische Kultur", Leipzig: Kröner, 1911, 2nd edn 1919
* "Goethe", Leipzig: Klinkhardt, 1913
* "Grundfragen der Soziologie", Berlin: Göschen, 1917 ["Fundamental Questions of Sociology"]
* "Rembrandt", Leipzig: Wolff, 1917
* "Lebensanschauung", München: Duncker & Humblot, 1918
* "Zur Philosophie der Kunst," Potsdam: Kiepenheur, 1922
* "Fragmente und Aufsäze aus dem Nachlass," ed G Kantorowicz, München: Drei Masken Verlag, 1923
* "Brücke und Tür," ed M Landmann & M Susman, Stuttgart: Koehler, 1957
* "Rom, Ein ästhetische Analyse" published the Viennese weekly paper "in Die Zeit, Wiener Wochenschrift für Politike, Volkwirtschaft Wissenschaft und Kunst," on May the 28th 1898
* "Florenz" published in the Berliner magazine "Der Tag" on March 2nd 1906
* "Venedig" published in the magazine from Munich "Der Kunstwart, Halbmonatsschau über Dichtung, Theater, Musik, bildende und angewandte Kunst." on June 1907
Works about Simmel and Compilations
* (de) Hartmann, Alois (2003): "Sinn und Wert des Geldes," In der Philosophie von Georg Simmel und Adam (von) Müller,, [ [http://www.wiku-verlagsprogramm.de/6332/6467.html ::::::::: WiKu-Verlagsprogramm ::::::::: ] at www.wiku-verlagsprogramm.de] Berlin, ISBN 3-936749-53-1.
*Muller, Jerry Z., 2002, "The Mind and the Market: Capitalism in Western Thought," Anchor Books.
*David Kim (ed.): "Georg Simmel in Translation: Interdisciplinary Border-Crossings in Culture and Modernity." Cambridge Scholars Press, Cambridge 2006, ISBN 1-84718-060-5
*Simmel, Georg, 1922  , "Conflict and the Web of Group Affiliations", translated and edited by Kurt Wolff, Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
*Simmel, Georg, 1950, "The Sociology of Georg Simmel," Compiled and translated by Kurt Wolff, Glencoe, IL: Free Press.
* [http://ssr1.uchicago.edu/PRELIMS/Theory/simmel.html Detailed overview, extracts and essays on Simmel at University of Chicago]
* [http://www.socio.ch/sim/index_sim.htm Sociology in Switzerland presents Georg Simmel Online]
* [http://socsci.colorado.edu/SOC/SI/si-simmel-bio.htm A short biography of Simmel]
* [http://socio.ch/sim/bio.htm A detailed biography and appreciation of Simmel]
* [http://www2.pfeiffer.edu/~lridener/DSS/INDEX.HTML#simmel About Simmel and his works]
* [http://126.96.36.199/search?q=cache:LoQ-G1L32LEJ:www.socialeconomics.org/uploads/Mellor.doc+simmel+money+was+invented&hl=fr&ct=clnk&cd=10&gl=fr The Social Role of Money]
* [http://www.altruists.org/static/files/The%20Metropolis%20and%20Mental%20Life%20%28Georg%20Simmel%29.htm The Metropolis and Mental Life]
* [http://www.cas.sc.edu/socy/faculty/deflem/zsimhab.html Jurgen Habermas, "Georg Simmel on Philosophy and Culture: Postscript to a Collection of Essays," Translated by Mathieu Deflem, Critical Inquiry, 22(3), pp. 403-414, Spring 1996]
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Georg Simmel — (* 1. März 1858 in Berlin; † 26. September 1918 in Straßburg) war ein deutscher Philosoph und Soziologe. Er leistete wichtige Beiträge zur Kulturphilosophie, war Begründer der „formalen Soziologie“ und der Konfliktsoziologie. Simmel stand in der… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Georg Simmel — Naissance 1er mars 1858 Berlin, Confédération allemande Décès 28 septembre 1918 (à 60 ans) … Wikipédia en Français
Georg Simmel — Georg Simmel. Georg Simmel (Berlín, 1 de marzo de 1858 – Estrasburgo, 28 de septiembre de 1918) fue un filósofo y sociólogo alemán. Doctor en filosofía por la Universidad de Berlín en 1881. Se centró en estudios microsociológicos, alejándose de… … Wikipedia Español
Georg Simmel — (Berlín, 1 de marzo de 1858 – Estrasburgo, 28 de septiembre de 1918) fue un filósofo, sociólogo y ensayista alemán. Todos somos fragmentos no sólo del hombre en general, sino de nosotros mismos … Enciclopedia Universal
Georg Simmel - Der Streit — Der Streit ist ein Kapitel der 1908 erschienenen Soziologie des Soziologen Georg Simmel. Das Kapitel, in dem sich Simmel mit sozialen Konflikten auseinandersetzt, wurde zu einem klassischen Text der Konfliktsoziologie. Inhaltsverzeichnis 1… … Deutsch Wikipedia
Simmel — Georg Simmel Georg Simmel Naissance 1er mars 1858 Berlin, Confédération allemande Décès 28 septembre 1918 (à 60 ans) Strasbourg, Empire Allemand … Wikipédia en Français
SIMMEL, GEORG — (1858–1918), German philosopher and sociologist. Born in Berlin of converted parents, in 1885 Simmel became a lecturer at Berlin, but his appointment as professor (extracurricular) at Strasbourg was delayed until 1911 because of his Jewish origin … Encyclopedia of Judaism
SIMMEL (G.) — Georg Simmel est, avec Max Weber, une des figures les plus importantes de la sociologie allemande classique, ces deux auteurs ayant, sur bien des points essentiels, une conception semblable de la sociologie. Simmel est surtout connu comme le… … Encyclopédie Universelle
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