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In this article, I sketch a theory of social sensibility building on Simmel’s Sociology. I focus on the sense of smell and its “distancing” function, and I develop Simmel’s insights in line with the phenomenological theory of the “oral sense” (Oralsinn). Notions like atmosphere and Stimmung allow me to shed light on the almost subliminal functioning of social evaluation: sensible inclinations pre-condition deeply social relations. In addition, I focus on the link between recognition and esteem (Anerkennung and Schätzung) in its active meaning (how we value others through our feelings) as well as in its passive meaning (how we strive to please and how the quest for recognition is part of the search for distinction). I conclude by suggesting the need for a reciprocal integration between Simmel’s and Bourdieu’s reflections.
I propose to read Simmel’s developments on the law of the individual as an attempt to solve the problem of modern culture, that is the increasing discrepancy between life and objective mind. I understand the law of the individual as a regulative idea of culture (in the sense of Bildung), which is, at the same time, relational and individual: as an ideal of the most fruitful relation and synthesis between individual life and objective formations of culture.
Are there similarities between Georg Simmel's concept of money in its early stages and Ernst Cassirer's works on myth as a symbolic form? To answer this question, this paper discusses parts of Simmel's “Philosophy of Money” and Cassirer's “Philosophy of Symbolic Forms”: By showing how primeval use of objects which carry monetary characteristics can be parallelized with ways of mythic world interpretation, similarities between Simmel's and Cassirer's arguments can be highlighted. It is not only the mind, which gains the ability of abstract thinking their examples and concepts point to, but also an idea of culture, which reflects this development.
This essay comments on Benedetto Croce’s review of Der Krieg und die geistigen Entscheidungen. After illustrating Croce and Simmel’s opposing philosophical visions of the Great War, light will be thrown on the reviewer’s manipulative choices made to crush his colleague’s intellectual stature and writings. Croce’s was a prejudiced attitude that ignored the deeply felt evolution of Simmel’s thought in the course of the conflict: from his enthusiastic support of the national war effort, manifested in 1914, to the subsequent anguished and critical eye when he perceived that Europe had set out on the road to civil and cultural suicide.