German Philosophy

Philosophy 34 (131):355-359 (1959)
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Abstract

The reputation and influence of an author depends to a large extent on the predilections of a specific society. One and the same person may be esteemed for different aspects of his work in various countries. Edmund Burke is chiefly known for his aesthetics on the continent, and not for his political philosophy as in this country. Georg Simmel, on the other hand, is famous on the continent foremost as a philosopher, but is known in the Anglo–Saxon world only as a sociologist. The Americans even speak of “Simmelism” meaning thereby a sociology analysing the psychological forms of social interaction such as conflict and subordination. The disregard of his philosophical work is a pity, for Simmel was a most stimulating thinker, almost French in his style, a truly European mind belonging with Bergson, Croce and Ortega to a group of philosophical essayists who are the salt of the earth whatever the “scientific” philosophers may say against them. A collection of his essays referring to history, religion, art and society, published under the title Brücke und Tür may be recommended as an introduction. It contains papers, most of them unpublished, of uneven value, but all are characteristic of the most dynamic philosopher I ever met. His thought arose in immediate response to anything which aroused his interest, be it an object, a person or a sociological fact.

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