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A Special Place for Blog Lovers with a Touch of Science!

Editor’s pick: Georg Simmel

Credit: Gettyimages

Excerpts from The Sociology of Secrecy and of Secret Societies (1906)

"Since one never can absolutely know another, as this would mean knowledge of every particular thought and feeling; since we must rather form a conception of a personal unity out of the fragments of another person in which alone he is accessible to us, the unity so formed necessarily depends upon that portion of the Other which our standpoint toward him permits us to see."


"Our fellowman either may voluntarily reveal to us the truth about himself, or by dissimulation he may deceive us as to the truth. No other object of knowledge can thus of its own initiative, either enlighten us with reference to itself or conceal itself, as a human being can. No other knowable object modifies its conduct from consideration of its being understood or misunderstood."

"Primitive man, living in communities of restricted extent, providing for his needs by his own production or by direct co-operation, limiting his spiritual interests to personal experience or to simple tradition, surveys and controls the material of his existence more easily and completely than the man of higher culture. In the latter case, life rests upon a thousand presuppositions which the individual can never trace back to their origins, and verify; but which he must accept upon faith and belief. In a much wider degree than people are accustomed to realize, modern civilized life—from the economic system which is constantly becoming more and more a credit-economy, to the pursuit of science, in which the majority of investigators must use countless results obtained by others, and not directly subject to verification—depends upon faith in the honor of others. We rest our most serious decisions upon a complicated system of conceptions, the majority of which presuppose confidence that we have not been deceived. Hence prevarication in modern circumstances becomes something much more devastating, something placing the foundations of life much more in jeopardy, than was earlier the case."

Georg Simmel

Georg Simmel (1 March 1858 – 26 September 1918) was a German sociologist, philosopher, and critic. He was influential in the field of sociology. Simmel was one of the first generations of German sociologists: his neo-Kantian approach laid the foundations for sociological antipositivism, asking what is society?—directly alluding to Kant's what is nature?— presenting pioneering analyses of social individuality and fragmentation. For Simmel, culture referred to "the cultivation of individuals through the agency of external forms which have been objectified in the course of history." Simmel discussed social and cultural phenomena in terms of "forms" and "contents" with a transient relationship, wherein form becomes content, and vice versa dependent on context. In this sense, Simmel was a forerunner to structuralist styles of reasoning in the social sciences. With his work on the metropolis, Simmel would also be a precursor of urban sociology, symbolic interactionism, and social network analysis

Simmel's most famous works today are The Problems of the Philosophy of History (1892), The Philosophy of Money (1900), The Metropolis and Mental Life (1903), and Fundamental Questions of Sociology (1917), as well as Soziologie (1908), which compiles various essays of Simmel's, including "The Stranger", "The Social Boundary", "The Sociology of the Senses", "The Sociology of Space", and "On The Spatial Projections of Social Forms". He also wrote extensively on the philosophy of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche, as well on art, most notably through his Rembrandt: An Essay in the Philosophy of Art (1916).

Source: Wikipedia

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