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SOC203H1 Lecture Notes - Persian Letters, Stamen, Georg Simmel

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George Simmel: The Metropolis and Mental Life
25/03/2013 16:04:00
1. The web of group affiliations 1908
2. Freedom of movement + Romanticism =unique, noble substance of person valued
3. Humans are differentiating creatures
4. The city: loose networks + culture of objectivity
5. Consequences for personality
. intellectual
. blasé
. reserve
. preciousness
6. Simmel compared
next week is the test – both lecture and readings, 32 t/f and 12 mc questions
torture topic- Durkheim : in contemporary society torture violates the belief of
individualism – a flaw in him is that there is only one value is what holds society together and
rather many other values that hold society together such as patriotism which shows his argument
not so strong – this criticism is challenging the presence that only there is one principle that
unites society together instead if we hold that there are other values there too which can show us
why US is enlarging itself even if its going against individuals human rights
1. 1908 is to be noticed – the argument simmel puts is a structural argument and we are
aware of this in Durkheim argument with his suicide- he said that social solidarity is important to
influence the suicide rate. In each of these cases Durkheim is stating that when social occasion
has a influence on ones social behavior. It explains peoples behavior in their social context.
Simmel says that depending on one who is in old social networks or if one lives in conditions
that are in loose social network there are many implications for the persons self. The simmel
offers a explanation in web of affiliations which comes in 1908 and his paper metropolis comes
in 1903. We think of thinkers idea of time to become more complex in time but this is the
opposite and we are finding that simmel is drawing on psychology and history to take on the
modernity. The web of affiliations he says there are two networks like traditional we have people
we know and have rules for deviant norms, and in the loose network we have identities for
different groups which is a problem of maintain unity.
2. Freedom of movement he associates with the 1700 which is a time where people had
geographical movement and social movement and increased appetites for other freedom. The 19th
century as the cult of romanticism which is that sets people apart. he is trying to argue that we
have newer expectations of the type of people we can be and they stem form the 18th century of
freedom and 19th century romanticism that sets us apart.

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3. he makes a universalistic claim that applies to human beings of all sort and says human
are differentiating creatures and pick up on differences and pick up on small changes, what
attracts us is deviation from the norm. (169-170)- simmel is saying that we are different and that
takes up our consciousness . He says that human beings are always differentiating creatures and
if you take these human beings and plunge them in the city they are bombarded with different
stimulus that is rapid than they have consequences for personality. The constant here is our
psychological conscious but what is varying is the various stimulations. The city is in strong
contrast from rural life and the city is a discrimating creature. The country has a rhythm of life
that is more slow and even.
4. the city has loose networks meaning lots of contact with people we do not know and
we are also treated as non objects by other humans and that has a desire for us to cultivate our
selves to be set apart. The culture of objectivity- could be contrasted with a culture that is in
contrast with qualitative things- lets say we are reading homicide stats and in reading those we
are not aware of qualitative differences of the different murderers, victims since all of that is
hidden by the numbers. Or lets say we go out for dinner and we split it to 20 each and putting all
these restaurants in the 20 category is ignoring the qualitative things like the atmosphere which is
like us being objectified since we are treated interchangeable like in the banks so we are treated
for objects. Simmel is saying is saying that the city is like this since we are in looser network and
when there is cultural objectivity. He also talks about money where he says that a money
economy contributes to culture objectivity. look at the small villages that peasants lived and the
exchange of goods were not by money but for food change where there is not a common
standard. So he is saying there has to be a greater tension of qualitative things and that there is
not a exact comparability that is evident more in the city (the money economy) where there is
value and is a city that goes in the movement of objectivity.
why did simmel think he was moving forward by going to a simple approach? why? this
is because there might have been a aesthetic considerations- in academic this feature
encompasses elegance and simplicity. In science if you can explain a lot in simple form that is
elegant and simmel went after simplicity as well which is why he was thinking he was offering
more and this is true for Durkheim in his suicide his concepts like social solidarity summarizes
his argument
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