Georg Simmel was not an educator in the classical sense. But he had profound influence upon his students precisely because he was no educator. This paradoxical thesis is developed in three steps: First, Simmel’s basic problem is discussed with respect to his own personality: modernity and individuality; second his analysis on money and modern life is reconstructed; third, his views on education and instruction are outlined demonstrating his liberal principles of education. Taken together, these three steps demonstrate the educational charisma of Georg Simmel.
This essay is composed of two parts: in the first I contend that Simmel was a representative of a cultural variant within Enlightenment modernity. Dumont has shown that there are several cultural variants born of the clash between former European traditional cultures and the modern set of universal values. This set and the variants are linked by a Wechselwirkung that modifies them all, thanks to the work of cross-representations. In the second part I argue that Simmel had German Bildung in mind when describing the shaping of subjectivity and the form of the life process and that Bildung is a cross-representation. As such it plays a major role in contemporary cultural processes which cannot be fully understood without appreciating its multidimensional complexity.
This paper focus on School Pedagogy, a course teached by Simmel at the end of his life in Strasbourg University. The intention is to convey that Simmel’s pedagogy is not an isolated chapter within his theory, but it shows principles present throughout his work and that are here applied in the pedagogical field. For this end, it first briefly outlines Simmel’s trajectory previous to teaching this course; then it concentrates in analyzing key points of the relation between Simmel’s art of teaching and learning and his works as a whole, to conclude which a group of practical points.
Georg Simmel is not really known for his pedagogical writing. Indeed, it did not represent his main focus, which was located in philosophy and sociology. The formation of a specific pedagogical science on a university level with its status of being an independent discipline happened only in the beginning of the 20th century: exactly at the same time when Georg Simmel was giving his lectures on Schulpädagogik (Lectures on Pedagogy for Schools) for teachers at the University of Strasbourg. It was also the time when progressive education became an international movement, aiming at activity, creativity, child-centeredness and youth activities in communities and nature. This article sketches Simmel’s approach towards pedagogy in terms of disciplinary thinking as well as his understanding of how teachers should behave in schools. A further aspect is the potential of his thinking for a theory of education (Bildung).
The essay brings together Georg Simmel’s and John Dewey’s reflections on the issues of education against the background of their diagnosis of a crisis in modern culture. In speaking of a “tragedy of culture” (Simmel) or, respectively, of a “tragedy of the lost individual” (Dewey) both thinkers stress the challenge the individual faces in constituting itself as a unity within a highly differentiated culture. I will show that both Simmel’s as well as Dewey’s considerations refer to the urgency of understanding individuality not as something static and fixed but as a coherent manner of interacting with continuously transforming conditions. This is an insight which emerges from Simmel’s “philosophy of life” as well as from Dewey’s “philosophy of experience” and it urges modern education to focus on enabling the individual’s “self-control” and “self-direction” within its own life and experience process.
Simmel's relativism aims to achieve the modern shift from substance to function without falling into pure sociological functionalism and generalized sceptical dissolution. This relativism would like to be at the same time a theory of objective forms of culture, a critique of modern forms of life and culture and a philosophical practice and attitude. That is why it is always both a philosophy of life and a philosophy of culture. Based on the pedagogy courses held by Simmel in Strasbourg in 1915/1916, this article outlines the consequences of this relativism in terms of pedagogy and philosophy of education. In particular, it considers ways to mitigate the "tragedy of culture", that is to promote the mobility and individuation of life without sacrificing the consistency of objective forms of culture.
In the era of advanced monetary economy, the nexus of love, money, and good education is at the origin of the “good society”. If marriage was invented for reasons of administration of goods and money, then the fact that individual love came upon marriage in the specific historical and geographical context of the Western European metropolitan life cannot be a coincidence. The platonic ladder of love, that leads to eternity through the erotic elevation of the soul to the sight of the Ideas, is transformed in Modern era through the new perception of Money as a “secular god”. For Plato, the goal of the lover is actually “education” (paideia) as he is supposed to give to the soul of the beloved wings in order to elevate itself to the contemplation of the Ideas. Plato’s heritance regarding love, says Simmel, is the belief that beyond the affect something of a bigger order is hiding in the phenomenon of love. As long as serial monogamy is the dominant model of erotic relations in our days, it is clear that its spiritual background is linked to Platonic Eros, not as an initiation to the science of the general, but, bended by the modern understanding of the individual, as an art of the individual. What is explored in this article is the educational role of Eros and its cultural potential. Eros can actually be considered as educator, as the initiator of the individual to a higher collective and spiritual order.