Theory, Culture and Society 22 (3):1-23 (2005)

This article presents a case for the revaluation of vitalism in sociological theory. It argues for the relevance of such a Lebenssoziologie in the global information age. The body of the article addresses what a vitalist sociology might be through a consideration of Georg Simmel. The analysis works from the juxtapositon of vitalist monadology with postivist atomism. It shows how Simmel drew on the Kantian cognition to develop an idea of the social. Here Kant’s Newtonian atomism was transformed into Simmel’s Darwinian atomism. ‘Form’, for Kant, is the a priori of the cognitive categories. For Simmel form is the functions that constitute the social a priori. The other of form is substance. Simmelian ‘substance’, we see, is understood as ‘life’. We view this in the context of Leibniz’s monadology. In this the monad is simple substance as difference. The monad is self-organizing, conceived on the lines of not the extensivity of res extensa, but the intensivity of res cogitans; the monad is possessed with memory as trace; it is comprised of relations of perception; it is reflexive. In each case monadology is systematically contrasted with atomism. We consider the Bergsonian and Nietzschean impetus in Simmel’s shift from Darwinian atomistic evolution to monadological creative evolution. We compare Marx’s labour theory of value with Simmel’s ‘life theory of value’. For Marx it is labour that makes up value-substance: for Simmel life is value-substance. We examine Simmel’s core notion of life as social substance: as a primordial inter-subjectivity of flux. We conclude with a contrast of such ‘flux’ and flow: of such a flux of ‘becoming’ and invention in contrast to the flows of domination of today’s global capitalism.
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DOI 10.1177/0263276405053717
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References found in this work BETA

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Introduction — Allosociality.Thomas M. Kemple - 2007 - Theory, Culture and Society 24 (7-8):1-19.
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Being-With.Olli Pyyhtinen - 2009 - Theory, Culture and Society 26 (5):108-128.

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