Summarizing Georg Simmel's Critique

Course: The Rise of Critical Social Thought

Written: October 24, 2014 
Published: January 10, 2017
© All Rights Reserved

 Summarizing Georg Simmel's Critique of Metropolis and Mental Life

Class Prompt: How does Simmel critique what has been discussed throughout the semester?

In order to understand Georg Simmel's viewpoint and critiques of what has been discussed, we must first form a framework of the commonalities between Simmel's topics and the class's discussion topics. To make a case in point, the following topics bridge closely to Simmel's: liberty, freedom, division of labor, working class, oppression, alienation, and individuality. 

Our reading today for Simmel touches on all of these topics, but the main premise of "The Metropolis and the Mental Life" acknowledges the subliminal and explicit effects that city life has on persons, human interaction, and most importantly—individuality. 

It was Simmel who expressed: ""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 in the form of a purely objective life."

Here we can see that Simmel understands that a persons "sense of individuality" may be smothered within a metropolitan area. Simmel supports this reasoning by stating that a metropolis environment is deluged with the repetition of impressions, an economy fueled by money (the "money economy"), and a profound emphasis on time.

At the same time, Simmel's critique of a sense of smothered individuality within a metropolis connects with the notion of freedom, division of labor, oppression, alienation.

Simmel's critique of individuality supports Rousseau's notion that "man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains." 

Simmel's critique of individuality and the topics listed above also agree's with Marx's ideology of how when an economy is fueled by money and production, individuality amongst the working people diminishes. 

All in all, we can see that concepts revolving around human interaction, society, and classes remain a meaningful debate amongst many theorists and philosophers. 

Fun Fact:

  • As a junior in college, Destiny wrote this prose during an in-class writing prompt

 

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