The View of Life is still under-studied despite its status as capstone to Simmel’s work. Departing from Simmel’s image as an unsystematic flâneur or bricoleur, I assess the affinity of his late theory of life forms with Schutz’s analysis of human action in three steps: First, as a common concern with the clarification of foundational problems that coincide with interpretive sociology’s basic idea of tracing back all cultural objectivations to the dynamics of living processes. Second, as an articulation of life’s self-transcendence concordant with the tension between action as a projected act (modo futuri exacti) and as an ongoing process (modo presenti) uncovered by Schutz for the first time in his posthumously published book Life Forms and Meaning Structures. I follow with a third proposal about how Simmel’s line of thought on freedom as a capacity to break through purposiveness and as a rise of ideal constructs might complement Schutz’s attention to the growth of the acting self through life events, suggesting that The View of Life can be regarded as a precedent to Schutz for linking action projection to the development of aspirations and ideals, and to theorize how the realization of projects supports the development of individual integrity and the ability to appropriate one’s life in the midst of unfamiliar and critical situations. Simmel and Schutz are thus shown to contribute to an approach to creative action in sociology.
The article advances a type of relational sociology that is sensitive to the continually ongoing formation of beings and relations over the course of time. While the dynamic and fluid character of relations has been stressed by other relational scholars as well, the article suggests by drawing from the work of Simmel and anthropologist Tim Ingold that to attend to the coming-into-being and change of beings and relations, we need to alter the very grammar of considering relations: instead of fathoming them as connections between entities, we had better examine them as lines of life along which things become, act, change, move, and grow. This is to interweave the concept of relations with the notion of life, which the article conceptualizes by turning to the life-philosophy of Simmel. Instead of regarding life as encapsulated inside living organisms, Simmel considers it as form-giving immanent in the world’s incessant processes of becoming.
In this paper I use concepts of Georg Simmel’s social aesthetics to investigate and describe several relational and communicative dynamics that occur in the digital public sphere—where the aesthetic dimension has now assumed great importance. Specifically, Simmel’s work proves to be more suited than Habermas’s for understanding the mechanisms of “typification” and “gamification” found in online interactions between individuals. I further argue that, on the Web, these mechanisms in particular are responsible for blocking the exchange of opinions and meanings on subjects of public interest, thereby betraying the universal, societal outcomes of Simmel’s social aesthetics.
Right from its very origins the debate on surrogate motherhood has fed on its own complexity, rather than achieving sure, unambiguous propositions over its goodness or inhumanity. This article offers a Simmelian interpretation of this modern form of maternity. Through Simmelian epistemology, the author identifies the key for overcoming some dilem-mas which have always accompanied the debate over the goodness or otherwise of surrogacy: whether it is the alienation or the realisation of the woman, the role of money and the value of surrogacy as an act of giving life.