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SOC101Y1 Chapter Notes -Georg Simmel, The Technique, Social Forces

Course Code
Irving Zeitlin

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The Metropolis and Mental Life
- The deepest problems of modern life derive from the claim of the individual to
preserve the autonomy and individuality of his existence in the face of
overwhelming social forces, of historical heritage, of external culture, and of the
technique of life.
- In addition to more liberty, the 19th century demanded the functional
specialization of man and his work; this specialization makes one individual
incomparable to another, and each of them indispensable to the highest
possible extent. However, this specialization makes each man the more directly
dependent upon the supplementary activities of all others.
* How the personality accommodates itself in the adjustments to external forces?
* The psychological basis of the metropolitan type of individuality consists in the
intensification of nervous stimulation which results from the swift and
uninterrupted change of outer and inner stimuli.
* Man is a differentiating creature. His mind is stimulated by the difference
between a momentary impression and the one which preceded it.
* The rapid crowding of changing images, the sharp discontinuity in the grasp if a
single glance, and the unexpectedness of onrushing impressions --> these are
the psychological conditions which the metropolis creates.
* with each crossing of the street, with the tempo and multiplicity of economic,
occupational and social life, the city sets up a deep contrast with small town
and rural life with reference to they sensory foundations of psychic life.
* The metropolis exacts from man as a discriminating creature a different amount
of consciousness than does rural like.
* In rural life, the rhythm of life and sensory mental imagery flows more evenly.
* Precisely in this connection the sophisticated character of metropolitan psychic
life becomes understandable -- as over against small town life which rests more
upon deeply felt and emotional relationships.
* Rural are rotted in the more unconscious layers of the psyche and grow most
readily in the ready rhythm of uninterrupted habituations.
* The intellectual, however, has its locus on the transparent, conscious, higher
layers of the psyche; it is the most adaptable of our inner forces. In order to
accommodate to change and to the contrast of phenomena, the intellect does
not require any shocks and inner upheavals; it is only through such upheavals
that the more conservative mind could accommodate to the metropolitan
rhythm of events.
- Thus, the metropolitan type of man -- which, of course, exists in a thousand
individual variants -- develops an organ protecting him against the threatening
currents and discrepancies矛盾 of his external environment which would uproot
地出 him.
- He reacts with his head instead of his heart. In this an increased awareness
assumes the psychic心理的 prerogative.
- Metropolitan life, thus, underlies a heightened awareness and a predominance

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of intelligence in metropolitan man.
- The reaction to metropolitan phenomena is shifted to that organ which is least
sensitive and quite remote from the depth of the personality.
- Intellectuality is thus seen to preserve subjective life against the overwhelming
power of metropolitan life, and intellectuality branches out in many directions
and is integrated with numerous discrete phenomena.
- The metropolis has always been the seat of the money economy.
- The metropolis has the multiplicity and concentration of economic exchange.
- Money economy and the dominance of the intellect are intrinsically
- The intellectually sophisticated person is indifferent to all genuine individuality,
because relationships and reactions result from it which cannot be exhausted
with logical operations.
- Money is concerned only with what is common to all: it asks for the exchange
value, it reduces all quality and individuality to the question: How much?
- All intimate emotional relations between persons are found in their individuality,
whereas in rational relations man is reckoned with like a number, like an
element which is in itself indifferent. Only the objective measurable
achievement is of interest.
- These features of intellectuality contrast with the nature of the small circle in
which the inevitable knowledge of individuality as inevitably produces a warmer
tone of behaviour, a behavior which is beyond a mere objective balancing of
service and return.
- The modern metropolis, however, is supplied almost entirely by production for
the market, that is, for entirely unknown purchasers who never personally never
personally enter the producer‟s actual field of vision.
- Through this anonymity the interests of each party acquire an unmerciful残忍的
matter-of-factness; and the intellectually calculating economic egoisms of both
parties need not fear that any deflection because of he imponderables of
personal relations.
- The money economy dominates the metropolis.
- The matter-of-fact切合实际 attitude is obviously so intimately interrelated with
the money economy, which is dominant in the metropolis, that nobody can say
whether the intellectualistic mentality first promoted the money economic or
whether the latter determined the former.
- Modern mid has become more and more calculating.
- Only money economy has filled the days of so many people with weighting,
calculating, with numerical determinations, with a reduction of qualitative values
to quantitative ones.
- Through the calculative nature of money a new precision, a certainty in the
definition of identities and differences, an unambiguousness in agreements and
arrangements has been brought about in the relations of life elements.
- The relationships and affairs of the typical metropolitan life are so varied and
complex that without the strictest punctuality in promises and services the
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