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SOCIOL 2S06 (332)
David Young (323)

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David Young

Micro Teory 1: Gerg Simmel A biographical Sketch of Simmel A. Early Years  Born in berlin in 1858  Born into a jewish family  Jewish heritage has a significant on his career  Born in center of berlin and grew up around the vibrant busy berlin and developed and got attatch to the city (more attatched to city than family)  Had strained relationships with family  Father – not much influence on simmel  Mother – disliked her, not a close relationship, very strained  Has 6 older brothers and sisters (youngest in fam) but wanted little contact lil contact with them (didn’t care much about them) B. Marriage  When he grow up, he married a young and well educated painter and was very interested in the arts  Gertrude Kinel – married in 1890  Has a son named Hans  During the course of his marriage simmel did end up having an affair – met another women who was into arts and was a poet art critique, writer – out of this affair he had a daughter  He never wanted to see his daughter and never did – kept that part of like separate  Gertrude knew about the affair and daughter but she stayed with him C. Education  Attended the uni of berlin  Did his undergrad and graduate work at uni of berlin  His area of study was philosophy  Simmel developed an interest in topics like art and music while working on phd dissertation – which was on psychology of music (which does not fit into conventional philosophy)  The supervising committee rejected his dissertation and then simmel went back to do more conventional writing D. Employment  After he finished his phd (in1881) – he was looking for a job  He was interested in a career as a professor – particularly at the uni of berlin 1.Attempted to secure a position at the uni of berlin  Officials has concerns and were not interested in hiring him because of two particular concerns:  (1) non-conformity – not very conventional  Wanted to study other things like art and culture, and was starting to get interested in sociology – neither were conventional philosophical areas  (2) anti-semitism – there were no formal laws that prohibited the hiring of jews, but due to prejudice and discrimination universities placed limits on the placement and the advancement of jews  Due to these reasons his application as a professor at the uni of berlin was rejected 2.Securing a position at the uni of berlin  1885 – given a position as a lecturer at the uni of berlin (which is a step down from being a professor)  This came without as annual salary  The income of lecturers depended on the fees paid by students who attended the lectures 3.Career at the uni of berlin  Simmel remained a lecturer at the uni of berlin until 1900  (1) simmel had considerable success at teaching  that is because he was an extremely popular lecturer  His lectures became public events that were attended by berlins intellectuals, politicians in berlin and artists  (2) simmel had considerable success at publishing  Simmel had published 6 books and 70 articles (all scholarly)  On top of that he gained a world wide reputation and people in other parts were reading his work – his work was translated into other languages  Despite all this he was still slited by officials at the uni of berlin but they couldn’t completely ignore how successful he had been  This ended up giving him a promotion to professor in 1901 – it was an honorary promotion as it did not come with the salary, status or power of an actual professor should 4.Failure to get a position at the uni of Heidelberg (Germany)– applied there in 1909 for the position of a professor  He got strong reference letters – one of them was written by Max Weber  Simmel also had strong reference letters from other famous scholars of the time  But he failed yet again  Why?  because of his 2 problems as stated earlier  This had a negative impact on simmels interest in sociology  1909- 1914 - he wrote little on sociology  He continued to write but started to lose interest in sociology as he wasn’t getting the position he wanted  He started to concentrate on the analysis of art and culture  He refused the presidency of the German sociological association (because he couldn’t get a job as a socio prof and was starting to lose interest)  He reduced the number of sociology courses that he was teaching 5.Move to the university of Strasbourg  1914 – obtained the position as a professor at the uni of strasbourg (was a minor German uni)  This place called strasbourg was in an area in Germany that was formerly part of france  Simmel was not happy here – he was far from berlin and very far from the intellectuals who would come listen to him speak E. Later Year 1.The first world war  Began in 1914  There were parallels in simmels reaction to the war  Weber and simmel reacted similarly:  (1) Just like weber, simmel reacted with patriotic enthusiasm  (2) As the war began, they both experienced disillusionment  The war had a negative impact on simmels work as a prof – a lot of lecture halls at the uni of Strasbourg were turned into mini military hospitals  Many students went off to war  Simmels had less to do  Irony – when he finally got his position as a prof, he wasn’t really able to teach 2.Illness and death  1918 – diagnosed with cancer  He continued to write and managed to finish his last book  He died at the age of 60 which was just 2 months before the surrender of Germany  Didn’t live to see the end of the first world war  He was spared one thing – humiliation of German residents of Strasbourg  After the war that area became as part of France  Gertrude and her son Hans had to leave and go back to Germany even without being able to take their belongings along  Hans – few decades later his son was a prisoner in the concentration camps in ww2 due to his Jewish background  He was horribly treated and ended up getting out  But he died after due to the poor treatment he endured at the concentration camp F. Impact on sociology 
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