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|Born||1 March 1858|
|Died||26 September 1918(1918-09-26) (aged 60)|
|Alma mater||University of Berlin (PhD)|
|Institutions||University of Berlin|
University of Strasbourg
|Notable students||György Lukács, Robert E. Park, Max Scheler|
|Formal sociology, social forms and contents, the tragedy of culture, web of group affiliation|
Simmel was influential in the field of sociology. Simmel was one of the first generation 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.
An acquaintance of Max Weber, Simmel wrote on the topic of personal character in a manner reminiscent of the sociological 'ideal type'. He broadly rejected academic standards, however, philosophically covering topics such as emotion and romantic love. Both Simmel and Weber's nonpositivist theory would inform the eclectic critical theory of the Frankfurt School.
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 Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Nietzsche, as well on art, most notably through his Rembrandt: An Essay in the Philosophy of Art (1916).
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