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Georg Simmel on Individuality and Social Forms [Paperback]

Georg Simmel , Donald N. Levine
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Feb. 15 1972 Heritage of Sociology Series
"Of those who created the intellectual capital used to launch the enterprise of professional sociology, Georg Simmel was perhaps the most original and fecund. In search of a subject matter for sociology that would distinguish it from all other social sciences and humanistic disciplines, he charted a new field for discovery and proceeded to explore a world of novel topics in works that have guided and anticipated the thinking of generations of sociologists. Such distinctive concepts of contemporary sociology as social distance, marginality, urbanism as a way of life, role-playing, social behavior as exchange, conflict as an integrating process, dyadic encounter, circular interaction, reference groups as perspectives, and sociological ambivalence embody ideas which Simmel adumbrated more than six decades ago."—Donald N. Levine

Half of the material included in this edition of Simmel's writings represents new translations. This includes Simmel's important, lengthy, and previously untranslated "Group Expansion and Development of Individuality," as well as three selections from his most neglected work, Philosophy of Money; in addition, the introduction to Probleme der Geschichtsphilosophie, chapter one of the Lebensanschauung, and three essays are translated for the first time.

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About the Author

Donald N. Levine is the Peter B. Ritzma Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago. He is the author of The Flight from Ambiguity: Essays in Social and Cultural Theory, Greater Ethiopia: The Evolution of a Multiethnic Society, and Wax and Gold: Tradition and Innovation in Ethiopian Culture, all published by the University of Chicago Press.

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4.0 out of 5 stars Simmel: a German intellectual Sept. 22 2000
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
A good collection of Simmel's important essays, especially the parts from Philosophy of Money are useful, but it also carries the weaknesses of its original author. Whether you call it impressionistic sociology or whatever, it lacks explanatory vigour, and in so far as philosophical insight is concerned it is not good enough for a devoted philosopher. We know that Simmel's interests span a wide range of domains, and if this is a strength it is also a major source of weakness in his case.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Impressionist Sociology! Nov. 6 1998
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Georg Simmel's social thought having being neglected for several decades, experiences a revival since the early nineties. A reason for this may be traced in his "gifted" - almost literary - style and in his breadth and vision regarding the state of modern urban culture. The collection of Simmel essays assembled in this volume by Donald Levine, covers a wide variety of the topics with which Simmel was preoccupied during his lifetime. One will find here Simmel's seminal work on social types, particularly on the "stranger" and the "poor". Simmel's brilliant essays on the "conflict in modern culture", the "tragedy of culture" and on the modern metropolis are included constituting essential reading for those who apart from a sociological perspective wish also to gain an aesthetic view of social reality. Simmel's intellectual roots are manifold. One can trace them back to Kant and Hegel but equally to the existentialist thinkers Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Many of the arguments raised by Simmel in these essays bear the marks of the aforementioned philosophers while others sound incredibly relevant for today's (post)modern culture (for example the essay on "fashion" and on the "conflict in modern culture". The reader of this volume is introduced to Simmel's thought through an excellent and scholarly essay by D.Levine which also locates Simmel's sociology in the American intellectual context (i.e Parsons and Park). This collection has become a classic among Simmel scholars and it provides essential reading for sociologists and philosophers alike.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Impressionist Sociology! Nov. 5 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Georg Simmel's social thought having being neglected for several decades, experiences a revival since the early nineties. A reason for this may be traced in his "gifted" - almost literary - style and in his breadth and vision regarding the state of modern urban culture. The collection of Simmel essays assembled in this volume by Donald Levine, covers a wide variety of the topics with which Simmel was preoccupied during his lifetime. One will find here Simmel's seminal work on social types, particularly on the "stranger" and the "poor". Simmel's brilliant essays on the "conflict in modern culture", the "tragedy of culture" and on the modern metropolis are included constituting essential reading for those who apart from a sociological perspective wish also to gain an aesthetic view of social reality. Simmel's intellectual roots are manifold. One can trace them back to Kant and Hegel but equally to the existentialist thinkers Schopenhauer and Nietzsche. Many of the arguments raised by Simmel in these essays bear the marks of the aforementioned philosophers while others sound incredibly relevant for today's (post)modern culture (for example the essay on "fashion" and on the "conflict in modern culture". The reader of this volume is introduced to Simmel's thought through an excellent and scholarly essay by D.Levine which also locates Simmel's sociology in the American intellectual context (i.e Parsons and Park). This collection has become a classic among Simmel scholars and it provides essential reading for sociologists and philosophers alike.
24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Cosmopolitanism in Missouri Dec 20 2007
By An Avid Reader Telling the Truth - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I had the opportunity to see Georg Simmel lecture at the Kiwanis Club in Hannibal, MO, the year before he passed away. I was only four years old at the time, but one of my earliest memories concerns his heavy tweed coat, his pince-nez, and that peculiar little accent of his, especially when he laughed. He was a fragile man: the archetypic scholar whose physical faculties emaciate as his mind grows ever stronger. I held his hand as we posed for a photograph at the urging of my father--long since lost--seated at the base of the statue I recall as "Justice Descends on the Countryside." The audience was not aware at that time that he was to die of syphilis a year later, likely contracted through contact with a prostitute or female "groupie" along the same tour (ironic given his own writings on prostitution). Because of the place where I was raised, I do not think I appreciated the urban forms of life Simmel was speaking about. It was only years later, living in Southern California during the entry of the United States into World War II, that I began to recall my adolescent copy of his essay called "The Metropolis and Mental Life." As a black man living alongside the interment of the Japanese-American community, I observed the ease with which others simply went about their daily lives and allowed racism and disposession to take on a shocking normalcy. I did not understand what I was seeing nor was I self-empowered enough at the time to speak out. I did later think of Simmel's essay. This connection was reinforced again years later when my academic daughter introduced me to the writings of Franz Fanon at the tail end of her graduate studies. A revelation! I believe Simmel was the first to write about a type of violence or indifference, a daily violence we all live by. For interested readers, I would draw your attention to a unique passage (page 17 in my copy) which I cannot claim to understand, even after all these years: "It is rather in transcending extensiveness that the metropolis also becomes the seat of cosmopolitanism. Comparable with the form of the development of wealth--(beyond a certain point property progresses in ever more rapid progression as out of its own inner being) -- the individual's horizon is enlarged. In the same way, economic, personal and intellectual relations in the city (which are its ideal reflection) grow in a geometrical progression as soon as, for the first time, a certain limit has been passed. [...] For the metropolis it is decisive that its inner life is extended in a wave-like motion over the broader national or international arena." Was Simmel speculating that the city-dwellers' "inner life" should share the blame for colonialism? If Simmel had lived longer, what would he have said about the 1922 rise to power of the Fascists in Italy? I am not a historian, but it seems like this was the opposite of the wave-like motion he describes, with a takeover of power in the coutryside first and then a march on Rome. Was this the moment in which the cosmopolitanism Simmel described that day in Hannibal, and many other days, was blindsided by more Machiavellian forces? Some younger people with whom I have had the opportunity to speak have suggested we are living through a similar moment now. This perhaps explains Simmel's enormous popularity in the age of the Internet. I am dictating this from my sickbed in La Jolla, but my great-grandson, tapping at the computer keys, tells me Simmel has reached the sales rank of 362,253 on the popular book-buying website named after a river. Way to go, Georg!
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Never got to read it Jan. 18 2013
By M. Yue - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This was another book for a withdrawn college course I meant to read it on my own time, but let's be honest...who reads this kind of book in their spare time? Perhaps only Ivy League geniuses (which I am not). So I give it five stars out of guilt.
1 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Adoration of Simmel April 8 2009
By E. Spira - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Georg Simmel is, without a doubt, my favorite of the founding fathers of sociology, and this book has some of his best essays in the field. Love it!
0 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Feb. 8 2013
By The Black Daria - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Good for class... great bargain and shipped quickly. I especially appreciate the service of the vendor ane highly reccomend them
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