Georg Simmel, as well as being a major philosopher, is one of the founding figures of sociology whose work is comparable in importance to that of Marx, Weber, and Durkheim. His writings on money, metropolises, and modernity have inspired generations of thinkers for over a century.
In this book, leading expert Thomas Kemple clearly and accessibly introduces Simmel’s sociological and philosophical work, ranging from his masterpiece The Philosophy of Money to his famous essays ‘The Metropolis and Mental Life’ and ‘Fashion’ and beyond. The author situates his writings within his social and intellectual circles and analyses them in light of current debates surrounding urban sociology and social networks, phenomenology and metaphysics, cultural criticism and the study of everyday life. He brings Simmel’s most famous works into conversation with others that have received less attention, such as his writings on nature, art, religion, and sexuality.
Through diagrams, everyday examples, and expositions of the work of his predecessors and contemporaries, and successors, this highly readable book captures the innovative spirit of Simmel’s unique method of thinking about cultural objects and his original style of writing about social life. Commemorating the 100th anniversary of Simmel’s death, it will be the leading guide to Simmel’s thought for generations of students and scholars.
‘This beautifully written guide brings into vivid microscopic focus the protean wholeness and diversity of Simmel’s magisterial thinking about money, economy, value, life, metropolitan existence, and the fundamental conflicts of modern culture and society.’
Austin Harrington, University of Leeds
‘Social and cultural theorists have been waiting a long time for a book on Simmel like Tom Kemple’s. He tackles what has often been characterised as a fragmented and labyrinthine oeuvre with admirable clarity. Kemple not only situates Simmel’s writings in his life and times but manages to reveal their freshness and contemporary relevance.’
Mike Featherstone, Goldsmiths, University of London