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5.0 out of 5 stars Complex and mature philosophical work, 5 Oct. 2013
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Georg Simmel was one of the fathers of sociology. However, he considered himself a philosopher and the nature of his work was philosophical. This book is his testament, as his wife wrote. It is his greatest achievement, but it is a complex philosophical work, which requires the reader to be conversant in the philosophy of Heraclitus, Kant, Hegel, Nietzsche, Bergson, to name a few.
Here, Simmel outlines his 'philosophy of life' (Lebensphilosophie), inspired by Nietzsche and Bergson, but he integrates his version of Kant's 'forms' and 'contents'. So 'life' is reality which is always moving and taking different shapes (forms) that become obsolete and are surpassed. The ethical essays (the individual law) aim to reconcile the tension between universalism and particularism.
Simmel conceives of the ethical life as a pursuit for the 'mystic'. It is not generalisable. In that, he follows Nietzsche's idea of nobility and eternal recurrence, albeit only up to a point.
It is impossible to summarise and explain briefly. This is Simmel's mature work and requires familiarity with his previous ouvre. Simmel is complex, inconsistent in his language and unsystematic. So it calls for patience and a lot of reading.
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The View of Life: Four Metaphysical Essays with Journal Aphorisms
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