The development of Simmel’s “life philosophy” characterizing the late phase of his work is ordinarily presented as the product of the reception of his contemporaries, above all Henri Bergson, whom he contributed to translate and introduce in Germany. The present essay shows, however, that Simmel’s life-forms paradigm has a completely different origin. It emerges from the essential core of Simmel’s theory of modern society, i.e. from his theory of social conflict. By showing that conflict is not simply a dividing factor but a process of sociation that integrates societies, Simmel realized that the epistemological dichotomy between process and substance had to be overcome in and open-ended conception of their dialectics going beyond Hegel’s teleological conception of historical development. Simmel found the semantics to express his conception in the examination of the life philosophy of his time, but he radically transformed it to point out the problem he wanted to address. To understand the particular nature of his question, it is important to trace its origins within his sociology.
The essay argues for taking G. Simmel’s theory of culture (especially Der Begriff und die Tragödie der Kultur, 1911) as a crucial point for guidance regarding conceptional questions and fundamental problems in view of current scientific debates on “culture” – with a theoretical discussion on Simmel’s legacy which hasn’t been sufficiently carried out. Simmel’s work will be shown as a generic explanation of a way of “culture thinking” which also in the current conjuncture of the subject “culture” did not turn obsolete in the course of modern scientific alternatives. Three different scopes are in focus: the term “culture” as a subsequent term of “Geist” (considering the consequences for the relation of empiricism and theory); overcoming harmonistic views of culture (“conflict”); and the capability of the critical thought of “sense” (the objectivity of the cultural “sense”). – At the same time, the “Simmel model” reveals the herein not yet thoroughly resolved (“personalistical”) implications of unity and identity, which are rather concealed and anonymously carried further. In Simmel, they result – again as exemplary – from his tendency of being anthropologically universal in his reasoning and from his strong “philosophy of life” forms of thought.
Marian Mičko’s book Walter Benjamin und Georg Simmel (2010) gives a precise insight into Benjamin’s debt towards Simmel’s philosophical method and characterization of modern experience. Centered on the similarities between their “phenomenology of modernity”, Mičko’s analysis widely disregards the discrepancies between Simmel’s and Benjamin’s assessments of modern experience, culminating in Benjamin’s criticism of the bourgeois concept of individuality and his commitment to a Marxist approach.
The University of Antioquia in Medellín, Colombia, was the scenario for holding what can be regarded now as a tradition in Latin America: an International Symposium on Georg Simmel. This review attempts to share the result of the third symposium outlining how simmelian categories were revisited and used as research keys for understanding the Latin American context. It is worth to mention that after the event not only the initiative of publishing the proceedings was achieved, but also the formalization of a Latin American simmelian studies network. This valuable experience of gathering around Simmel’s work will return to its initial point when the Fourth Symposium will be hold in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on November 2015.
This article sheds light on the experience which we share in the one and a half hours which we spend in the cinema. It discusses the experiences that are framed between the opening and the closing of the curtain that covers the screen. Thereby it reflects on the reasons for the success and importance of the cinema in modern and especially late modern society, on its meaning for us as individuals and for the webbing of our social bonds. By discussing texts of Simmel, Turner, Sennett and Benjamin, and relating them with each other, we have tried to analyse critically the changes that might have happened to actors and audiences when the stage became a screen, and the actor part of an imaged story. As a result we have identified the cinematic experience as a new kind of ritual that fits with the needs and conditions of late modern society, a ritual wherein emotions play the central role.
Georg Simmel’s paradoxical concept of Lifestyle opens up an extensive field of issues and a wide perspective on individual existence in contemporary society. On one side it makes possible to understand several aspects of the “aesthetisation of everydaylife” that characterize the current global consumer culture. On the other side help us to focus on different aspects of individual participation in the political and social life of the community and entails many nuances that are not immediately accessible from the point of view of the classical concept of citizenship. Such a richer interpretive perspective becomes viable if the concept of lifestyle is understood in the Simmelian meaning of the Individual Law: an ethical principle that makes sense of a plurality of sphere of activities otherwise severed – as the rationalized modern life imposes upon individuals.
This paper expands on Simmel’s answer to the increasing depletion of social relationships due to the by then more than an increasingly pervasive monetary economy. Definitively abandoned all hope for a change in the arrangements that structure the social order and dismissed any prospect for a strong opposition, the simmelian’s individual can only aspire to a decent adaptation to the world as it is, trying to protect her intimate personality and to cultivate spaces and moments in which more specifically human features and qualities can flourish.