Georg Simmel

Georg Simmel - a German philosopher and social scientist, is frequently credited as one of the discipline's founders. How is Georg Simmel's career development path? Learn more about him in the following article.

I. Georg Simmel biography 

When it comes to a wide range of topics and ideas, Georg Simmel's writing can be impressionistic at times. Formal sociology is his most thorough and consistent sociological development.

1. Who is Georg Simmel?

Georg Simmel was born on March 1, 1858, in the very heart of Berlin, the corner of Leipzigerstrasse and Friedrichstrasse. This was an odd place to be born—it would be comparable to Times Square in New York but it seems symbolically appropriate for a man who spent his entire life at the crossroads of numerous movements, profoundly influenced by the crosscurrents of intellectual traffic and by a variety of moral trajectories. Simmel was a contemporary urbanite with no ties to a historical folk culture.

Who is Georg Simmel?

One of the most influential philosophers and social scientists in Germany at the turn of the century, he continues to be unconventional, a perplexing and fascinating figure to his more traditionally minded contemporaries. 

The youngest of seven kids, Simmel was. When Georg Simmel was still a child, his father, a successful Jewish businessman who had become a Christian, passed away. The boy was given to a family friend who owns a music publishing company as guardian. Simmel's relationship with his controlling mother was rather strained; he doesn't appear to have any roots in a stable family setting, and Simmel's sense of exclusion and insecurity began to set in at a young age. 

Simmel studied history and philosophy at the University of Berlin after completing his Gymnasium studies under some of the most prominent academics of the time, including the psychologist Bastian, the anthropologists Lazarus and Steinthal , the historians Mommsen, Treitschke, Sybel, and Droysen, the philosophers Harms and Zeller, the art historian Hermann Grimm, and the historians of philosophy Harms and Zeller.

2. Georg Simmel early career 

Simmel lectured and worked as a public sociologist for the next 15 years, penning numerous articles for periodicals and newspapers on his areas of interest. As a result of his well-received writing, he gained notoriety and respect in both Europe and the US. 

Ironically, conservative academics shunned Simmel's ground-breaking body of work and refused to formally appoint him to any academic positions. Simmel's frustrations were made worse by the terrifying consequences of the rising anti-Semitism he had to deal with as a Jew.

Georg Simmel redoubled his efforts to advance sociological thinking and his developing discipline, refusing to give up. He co-founded the German Society for Sociology in 1909 with Ferdinand Tonnies and Max Weber.

3. The Influence of Simmel on American Sociology Since 1975

In recent decades, Georg Simmel's influence on research and canonical status in American sociology have both grown. However, a thorough comprehension of his influence is still elusive. In order to correct this situation, this review assesses Simmel's contributions to American sociology since 1975. By elaborating the ideas of form, interaction, and dualism, we express Simmel's sociological orientation. Using a network analysis of Sim-mel citations dating back to 1975, we look at how research has incorporated Simmelian ideas. 

In urban and conflict studies, where scholars transitioned from Simmel's initial functionalist reception to a formalist interpretation, we find Georg Simmel became an anchor for change. Simmel's status as a classic in network research and symbolic interactionism during the 1980s was cemented by this formalist reception. However, more recent work in relational sociology and economic sociology builds on Simmel's growing popularity. We conclude with a number of ways to develop Simmel's concepts in the field.

II. Georg Simmel contribution to Sociology

The query, "How is society possible?" sits at the heart of his sociological methodology. . There are many people in society, and they are all preoccupied with their own goals and concerns, giving little thought to the interests of others. Yet a stable, organized, and generally quite predictable social whole is what all these individual actions result in. Georg Simmel thus seeks to explain this stability. In his Critique of Pure Reason, the philosopher Kant posed the query, "How is nature possible?".  

Georg Simmel contribution to Sociology

His solution had been to contend that the only thing that actually unifies nature is the human observer. In essence, the human mind unifies all the various parts of nature into a structured and predictable whole. Georg Simmel emphasizes that no outside observer is necessary for society to be cohesive. Instead, all of its members must actively participate if society is to remain united. More specifically, he contends that elite planning or a conspiracy did not lead to the way society is organized. So, for instance, a bureaucracy is a very unusual type of social organization. 

He notes that the building blocks of society, namely, people, are intelligent, creative beings. People expect society to be organized, stable, and even predetermined, as if it had been created specifically for them. Humans enter into social relationships with a variety of abilities and ideas that enable them to find and produce coherence in those circumstances. Therefore, humans put forth constant effort—possibly without even realizing it—to establish and preserve at least the appearance of the order they anticipate to exist. 

Humans do not fully understand society as a whole, but they are generally aware of the laws and customs that guide their interactions with and conduct toward other people. He uses a chess match as an example. An outsider who isn't familiar with the rules finds the player movements to be puzzling. They appear organized and coordinated, but they are meaningless. It might all be a bizarre ballet that a third party choreographed. The movements in chess are significant to the player because each player is reacting to the actions of their adversaries through the shared understanding of a set of rules. The players are able to predict and decipher their opponents' actions. Simmel thus foresees much of what materializes in symbolic interactionism and phenomenological social theories.

Georg Simmel's argument goes beyond the simple premise that a person's potential can never be fully realized through the few roles they play in life. Instead, even when we consider ourselves to be "individuals," our uniqueness is reduced to a mere "outline," constrained by the norms of the culture in which we (must) live.

III. Georg Simmel writing career

Simmel showed little interest in social and political issues, in contrast to all the other sociologists mentioned so far. On rare occasions, he would offer his opinions in newspaper articles about current events like social medicine, the status of women, or criminal insanity, but it was obvious that these issues were unimportant to him. But there is one significant exception. Georg Simmel threw himself into war propaganda with fervor and intensity when the war broke out. 

With all "objective" justification of this will in terms of culture, ethics, history, or God knows what else, he wrote at the time, "I love Germany and therefore want it to live—to hell with it. Some of Simmel's wartime writings are difficult to read because they exude a superpatriotism that is so at odds with his previous cool demeanor.

They show a man's frantic attempt to integrate into the patriotic community after always viewing himself as a "stranger" in the country. "You avoided decision all your life, Tertium datur, but now you find the absolute in the trenches," his young friend Ernst Bloch said. In his later years, Simmel gave in to the urge for closeness and communion. Throughout his career, Georg Simmel had managed to maintain a distance that allowed him to view events with cool reason. 

Simmel wrote extremely frequently. Over 200 of his articles were published during his lifetime in a wide range of journals, newspapers, and magazines, and several more were published after his death. In the disciplines of philosophy, ethics, sociology, and cultural criticism, he produced fifteen significant works along with another five or six lesser-known ones.

III.  Georg Simmel Death & Legacy

Simmel was a prolific writer throughout his career, penning 15 highly regarded books in addition to more than 200 articles for a variety of publications, both academic and non-academic. He lost the battle with liver cancer in 1918 and passed away. 

Simmel's work served as a springboard for the growth of structuralist methods for analyzing society as well as the discipline of sociology as a whole. Robert Park of the Chicago School of Sociology, who helped establish the discipline of urban sociology in the United States, found particular inspiration in his works. 

The intellectual growth and writing of social theorists György Lukács, Ernst Bloch, and Karl Mannheim, among others, were influenced by Georg Simmel in Europe. Members of The Frankfurt School were also theoretically supported by Simmel's method of studying mass culture.

IV. Georg Simmel Books

Georg Simmel Books

1. The Philosophy of Money 

Georg Simmel places money on the couch in The Philosophy of Money. He offers us a timeless examination of the social, psychological, and philosophical dimensions of the money economy, brimming with brilliant insights into the contours of interpersonal interactions. He examines the connections between the exchange of money, human personality, the status of women, and personal freedom. Georg Simmel also provides us with foretelling information about the effects of the modern money economy and the division of labor, particularly the processes of alienation and reification in the workplace and urban life. 

As a stunning examination of the significance, application, and culture of money, this enormous and profound work demands to be read now and in the years to come.

2. Georg Simmel on Individuality and Social Forms 

This edition of Simmel's writings contains new translations for about half of the content. This includes three excerpts from Simmel's most neglected book, Philosophy of Money, as well as the lengthy, significant, and previously untranslated "Group Expansion and Development of Individuality." The introduction to Probleme der Geschichtsphilosophie, chapter one of the Lebensanschauung, and three essays are also translated for the first time.

3. Georg Simmel: Essays on Art and Aesthetics 

Simmel developed an interest in a wide range of aesthetic and artistic phenomena because he was fascinated by the interactions between culture, society, and economic life. He wrote dozens of essays addressing subjects like the work of Michelangelo, Rembrandt, and Rodin, Japanese art, naturalism and symbolism, Goethe, "art for art's sake," art exhibitions, and the aesthetics of the picture frame. He was friends with writers and artists like Auguste Rodin, Rainer Maria Rilke, and Stefan George. 

The best of Simmel's writing on art and aesthetics has never been collected before, and many of the pieces in this volume are published in English for the first time. The more than forty essays, which cover landscape painting, portraiture, sculpture, poetry, theater, form, style, and representation, demonstrate the diverse breadth of Simmel's reflections. Austin Harrington's thorough introduction provides a summary of Simmel's main ideas and clarifies the importance of his work for the numerous theorists who would be influenced by it. 

V. Georg Simmel Quotes

“By my existence I am nothing more than an empty place, an outline,that is reserved within being in general. Given with it, though, is the duty to fill in this empty place. That is my life.”


“The deepest problems of modern life derive from the claim of the individual to preserve the autonomy and individuality of his existence in the face of overwhelming social forces, of historical heritage, of external culture, and of the technique of life.”


“The calculative exactness of practical life which the money economy has brought about corresponds to the ideal of natural science: to transform the world by mathematical formulas. Only the money economy has filled the days of so many people with weighing, calculating, with numerical determinations, with a reduction of qualitative values to quantitative ones.”


“[Nostalgic sentiments] are nothing other than the rosy illumination of a past that has been spared the shadows of the present.”


“The educated person is one who knows how to find out what he does not know.”

---Georg Simmel


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