Georg Simmel was born on March,1 1858 in Berlin Germany. Georg Simmel came from a large family; he was one of seven children. Tragedy struck him when he was young with the passing of his father, from this death Georg Simmel inherited a decent sum. After the passing of his father guardianship fell to a family friend. Simmel kept a distance relationship with his mother in the years after his fathers passing. Simmel’s family had a spread of religious beliefs, Georg Simmel’s father was Jewish but converted to Christianity and Georg Simmel was Jewish and converted to Protestant. Georg Simmel spent most of his life in Berlin, he lived in Berlin until 1914 when he received a job at the University of Strasbourg. Simmel remained in Strasbourg until his death of liver cancer in 1918. During his life Simmel married Gertrud, together they had one child.
Simmel achieved his doctorate in 1881 from the University of Berlin, his major area of study was philosophy. His lecturing career began in 1885 at the University of Berlin where he addressed mainly philosophy and ethics. While the beginning of his career was not economically promising, students and colleagues attended his lectures in great numbers. This popularity led to promotion at the University of Berlin 15 years after beginning his career as a lecturer. He continued to attempt to find a position as a full professor, but was unable to until 1914. At this time, he achieved a full professorship at the University Strasbourg where he remained until his death in 1918. Through his life Georg Simmel had many fields of interest, lecturing and writing on a vast number of topics. Some of his interests were, sociology, philosophy, ethics, visual art, and music. While a majority of his academic carer was not directly focused on sociology, he made many great advancements in the field. Georg Simmel’s work laid down the base that helped found the humanist branch of sociology. He also, together with Weber and Toennies, founded the German Society for Sociology.
The following is a list of the major written works of Georg Simmel.
• On Social Differentiation, 1890
• The Problems of the Philosophy of History, 1892
• Introduction to the Science of Ethics, 1893
• The Philosophy of Money, 1900
• Sociology: Investigations on the Forms of Sociation, 1908
• Fundamental Questions of Sociology, 1908
• Philosophische Kultur, 1911
• Goethe, 1913
• Rembrandt, 1916
Personal Experience and Inspiration
Georg Simmel’s interest in writing about money and social behaviour towards it may have been impacted by many factors in his life. One such factor is the large inheritance from his father. This inheritance allowed him a relatively easy life and allowed for his pursuits in academia. After completing his schooling, his position as a lecturer did not pay well. Around this time in his life, his new guardian passed away leaving him another large inheritance. These two vastly different economic standings in his social context may have been the reason for his interest in writing on society’s behaviours with money.
Another topic of great interest to Georg Simmel was his concept of “The Stranger” and social behaviour of small groups. The interest in The Stranger”, may have been derived from his own personal experience. Georg Simmel may have viewed himself as an outsider, or stranger. The reason for this being that sociology was such a new field and discrimination against him for his Jewish ancestry. During his time sociology was a newly immerging field of study and because of this his involvement would make him one of a smaller group of academics. The social behaviour toward people of Jewish ancestry in Germany before World War One was less hostile, however they were not a fully integrated culture, they were a group of outsiders.
Through his life in Germany, Simmel lived through many conflicts in Europe. These conflicts, including World War One, would have made a great impact on his personal morals and understanding of the world. Simmel's major work did not directly focus on the war but it may have inspired and guided his work.
A sample of some well known Georg Simmel quotes.
1) Every relationship between persons causes a picture of each to take form in the mind of the other, and this picture evidently is in reciprocal relationship with that personal relationship.
2) Every relationship between two individuals or two groups will be characterized by the ratio of secrecy that is involved in it.
3) The individual has become a mere cog in an enormous organization of things and powers which tear from his hands all progress, spirituality, and value in order to transform them from their subjective form into the form of a purely objective life.
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2) Georg Simmel Quotes. (n.d.). Retrieved October 20, 2016, from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/authors/g/georg_simmel.html
3) Lewis, T. T. (2016). Georg Simmel. Salem Press Biographical Encyclopedia,
4) Simmel, G., & Lawrence, P. A. (1976). Georg Simmel : sociologist and European. New York : Barnes & Noble Books, 1976.
5) Ritzer, G. (2005). Encyclopedia of social theory. Thousand Oaks, CA : Sage Publications, c2005.
6) Fernandez, R. (2003). Mappers of society : the lives and legacies of great sociologists. Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 2003.
7) Mayntz, R. (n.d.). Simmel, Georg. Retrieved October 22, 2016, from http://www.encyclopedia.com/people/social-sciences-and-law/sociology-biographies/georg-simmel