Georg Simmel

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Simmel, Georg


Born Mar. 1, 1858, in Berlin; died Sept. 26, 1918, in Strasbourg. German idealist philosopher and sociologist. Privat-docent (1885) and professor (1901) at the University of Berlin; professor at the University of Strasbourg (1914).

Simmel’s early thought, marked by the influence of H. Spencer and C. Darwin, was characterized by a biological and utilitarian basis in ethics and the theory of knowledge: morality and truth were viewed as a kind of instinctive purposiveness. In the 1900’s these views changed under the influence of I. Kant, especially his theory of a priority. Simmel subsequently became one of the most important representatives of the “philosophy of life” school, working mainly on the philosophy of culture.

Simmel understood “life” as a process of creative becoming, not exhausted by rational means and comprehended only through inner experience (feelings), intuitively. This experiencing of life is objectified in the varied forms of culture. Simmel’s characteristic attention to the individual forms of the realization of life, to the unique historical forms of culture, was reflected in his monographs on J. W. von Goethe, Rembrandt, I. Kant, A. Schopenhauer, and F. Nietzsche. This aspect of his thought conditioned the unsystematic nature of his numerous essays on philosophy and the history of culture. The vital ardor of life as irrational fate, a common view of the “philosophy of life” school, also permeated the philosophy of Simmel, particularly in the last years of his life in his teachings on the “tragedy of creativity.” This tragedy was caused, in SimmeFs view, by the eternal contradiction between the creative pulsations of life and the congealed, objectified forms of culture.

Simmel was the founder of so-called formal sociology in his works on sociology of the 1890’s and 1900’s. Simmel considered the subject of sociology to be the forms of the social interaction of people that are preserved despite all changes of concrete historical content. In his theory, the social was understood in a one-sided manner, as the totality of relations among individuals. Within the limits of such an approach, Simmel analyzed social differentiation; social forms such as agreement, conflict, competition, authority, obedience, and rank; and relationships arising in small groups. In The Philosophy of Money (1900; 6th ed., 1958), Simmel gave a sociopsychological analysis of the role of money in the development of impersonal relations between people, which he considered a precondition of the development of the personality and of individual freedom. Simmel’s works had a great influence on the subsequent development of bourgeois sociology in Germany (L. von Wiese, W. Sombart, R. Stammler) and in the USA (H. Becker and L. Coser). In Russia, Simmel’s influence was evident in the views of P. B. Struve (V. I. Lenin, Poln. sobr, soch., 5th ed., vol. l,p.431).


Einleitung in die Moralwissenschaft, 4th ed., vols. 1–2. Aalen, 1964.
Soziologie, 4th ed. Berlin, 1958.
Philosophische Kultur, 3rd ed. Potsdam, 1923.
Lebensanschanung. Munich-Leipzig, 1918.
Zur Philosophie und Kunst. Potsdam, 1922.
Fragmente und Aufsätze. Munich, 1923.
Brüicke und Tür. Stuttgart, 1957.
In Russian translation:
Problemy filosofii istorii. Moscow, 1898.
Religiia. Moscow, 1909.
Sotsial’naia differentsiatsiia. Moscow, 1909.
Konflikt sovremennoi kul’tury. Petrograd, 1923.
Gete. Moscow, 1928.


Istoriia filosofii, vol. 3. Moscow, 1959. Pages 362–64.
Kon, I. S. Pozitivizm v sotsiologii Leningrad, 1964. Pages 106–10.
Gassen, K., and M. Landmann. Buch des Dankes an Georg Simmel. Berlin, 1958.
Georg Simmel, 1858–1918. Columbus (Ohio), 1959.
Weingartner, R. H. Experience and Culture: The Philosophy of Georg Simmel. Middletown (Connecticut), 1962.
Georg Simmel. Edited by L. A. Coser. Englewood Cliffs (New Jersey), 1965.


References in periodicals archive ?
Reclaiming landscape also means advocating the aesthetic elements that are essential to the reconstruction of the sense of wholeness that George Simmel saw as one of the key features of landscape.
A colorful cast of personalities spanning from the renowned African American painter Henry Ossawa Tanner to the American philosopher William James; from diverse characters such as playwright George Bernard Shaw to international connections with intellectuals such as the German sociologist and philosopher George Simmel fill the pages of this book with pieces of information kept private until this publication.
The underlying difference between a dyad and a triad was first conceived by George Simmel (1950), a philosopher and sociologist.
The Sociology of George Simmel, Free Press, Glencoe, IL, 1950.
Anticipating in this respect the critical impressionism of later critics of culture like George Simmel and the Frankfurt School, he argues from a radically critical orientation qualified, and in some sense necessarily compromised, by a half-fascinated, half-repelled immersion in culture.
For Max Weber, George Simmel, Husseri, Junger, Scheler, and others, "the battlefield becomes the privileged place to grasp the true meaning of life" (p.
George Simmel (1858-1918) The bairro of Santa Teresa clings to the slopes of a steep hill, to the south-west of Rio de Janeiro.
Davis carefully details how urban development and planning have converted a once heterogeneous neighborhood populated by what George Simmel calls "the crowd" into a fortified urban garrison.
of Granada, Spain) has edited this group of 7 essays, each concerning issues of identity in European literature and philosophy, with individual topics that include French identity in the Chanson de Roland, the notion of Granada as a paradigm in Andalusian identity, and relating the concept of urban identity in the work of George Simmel to the present-day cyberpolis.
Topics centering on the legacy of sociology include cultural analysis in Marxist humanism, the thought of George Simmel and the Frankfurt School, Stuart Hall and the Birmingham School, and Giddens's work on the absent word and the central concept, while those on contemporary cultural theory focus on Zygmunt Bauman, Foucault, Bourdieu, and Baudrillard.