PHL217H1 Lecture Notes - Georg Simmel, Interpersonal Relationship

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17 Nov 2011
PHL217H1 (Lecture 12)
Georg Simmel
1.) A contrast with the inter-subjective element in Hegel’s conception of truth
- Knowledge about other minds comes into play in this concept of truth but
the concern is with knowledge of reality.
- Knowledge about content of other minds is a concern for Hegel only
- Simmel is concerned with inter-personal truth; the truth we share with
each other.
2.) Comparison of persons with other objects of knowledge
- Both kinds of truth (knowledge of mind and reality) are necessary for
progress in life.
- Both kinds of truths are typically concerned with quality of objects rather
- Neither is absolute in the sense of being complete
- While nature can conceal itself, it never lies to us
- Unlike other objects, people modify their behaviour because they know
others are interacting with them.
3.) Interpersonal truth as a pre-condition of society
- Simmel derives that our knowledge of each other is largely true because of
how well we get along with each other.
- The typical tendencies of people is what one needs to know in this case
- Used examples of Kate and Leopold & Blast from the past
4.) Society as a pre-condition of inter-personal knowledge
- There is a typical sort of quality in social settings as opposed to the quality
found in a social relationship.
- In both cases, there is a feedback loop where actual interactions reshape
5.) Error as a precondition of interpersonal relationship
- It is expedient to interact with someone without a complete concept of
someone; suggesting that in fact there may be certain things that can be
found out in a person that can interfere with one’s dealings with that
- Simmel refers to this as the vital lie; something that is quite useful in
getting along.
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