Theory, Culture and Society 29 (7-8):218-236 (2012)

Georg Simmel’s treatment of the lie – in the essay ‘The Sociology of Secrecy and Secret Societies’, but in other, lesser known texts as well – is an aspect of his thought that has not received a great deal of attention among theorists. And yet many of his better known contributions to social theory – including his concepts of ‘interaction’ and ‘sociation’, his appreciation of the spatial and the aesthetic dimensions of social life, and his speculations about culture and subjectivity in the modern world – draw on ideas that he developed while contemplating the problem of deception. In this article, I bring Simmel’s work on mendacity to the fore, and show how a consideration of it sheds new light on some of his most familiar claims. I further argue that Simmel’s work on the lie illuminates a very old and vexing set of philosophical debates, and especially the debate over self-deception, or whether or not it is possible to lie to oneself. Along with providing a close study of his comments on the lie in ‘The Sociology of Secrecy and Secret Societies’, and in the chapter of his monumental Sociology that is based on that essay, I propose a reading of Simmel’s heretofore ignored fable or fairytale ‘Der Lügenmacher’ – one of the eight short pieces that he published pseudonymously between 1899 and 1903 in the cultural journal Der Jugend under the heading ‘ Momentbilder’ or ‘Snapshots, sub specie aeternitatis’.
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DOI 10.1177/0263276412456566
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Introduction — Allosociality.Thomas M. Kemple - 2007 - Theory, Culture and Society 24 (7-8):1-19.
Simmel on Social Space.Frank J. Lechner - 1991 - Theory, Culture and Society 8 (3):195-201.

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