[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[Xmca-l] Re: Further reflections on hope as the not yet formed



This isn't a salon?
We lack class I guess, along with inadequate tastes and intellects!
:-)
mike

On Sat, Feb 28, 2015 at 11:22 AM, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com>
wrote:

> Larry,
> Again, this is a fantastic redux, so thanks. And also thanks for the
> Gadamer special issue. I've downloaded and hope to be able to get to them
> soon.
>
> A somewhat sideways comment on the Simmel post - it makes me wonder about
> the possibility of a "salon culture" in the U.S. today. It seems an
> impossibility among adults for too many reasons (I say "adults" because
> when I was in high school, a group of us referred to ourselves as "Madam
> Geoffrin's Salon" - apparently entirely oblivious to the gender politics
> involved considering that we were all male!).
>
> Anyway, it is difficult to imagine any group of people being able to give
> an afternoon once a week to discussion of important matters. The only
> matters that seem to matter today are making money.
>
> But maybe there are spaces for this in academic life? (esp. if you already
> have tenure...).
>
> -greg
>
> On Sun, Feb 22, 2015 at 5:56 PM, Larry Purss <lpscholar2@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> >  This is an extended commentary introducing a few key concepts of
> Simmel's
> > approach to being human,
> > I thought I would post this reflection on Simmel as a dialectical thinker
> > and a hopeful thinker.
> >  It may be of interest to a few on this site to add to understanding of
> > "salon culture" in the Germanic cities at the beginning of the 20th
> > century.
> > There is a re-emerging interest by Simmel scholars who are
> > re-searching  the centrality of the theme of dialectic within Simmel's
> > scholarly explorations. This is the subject of a new book, titled: "Form
> > and Dialectic in Simmel's Sociology. A New Interpretation" [2013].  The
> > authors are Henry Schermer and David Jury.
> >
> > They make a case that what Simmel offers is a mode of analysis located
> > within the dialectical tradition within German social thought, a
> tradition
> > with roots extending from Heraclitus and Paramedes through Kant, Hegel,
> and
> > Marx. This dialectical thread has been hidden in Anglo-American reception
> > and rendering a Simmel cleansed of what was seen as the contamination of
> > the dialectic within his work. The aim of this book is to convey what the
> > authors see as the core of Simmel's method and the potential of its
> further
> > expansion.
> >
> > The core concept is "Wechselwirkung" [reciprocal effect] and the
> dialectic.
> > This has a similar sense to Zinchenko's concept of "oscillation".
> >  Wechselwirkung or recirocal effect is ever present in Simmel's approach
> > and the movement at the core of his "relational" and "dialectical theory.
> > Wechselwirkung AS "social interaction" is his central concept of
> > interaction.
> >
> > This overarching conception is a Spinozian emphasis on "interrelations"
> and
> > on "process" rather than discrete "things". This notion of dialectical
> > "truth" as neither absolute nor relative.  Both separations AND
> > unifications are significant aspects of his conceptual truth of the world
> > as mediated by a plurality of concepts. All such relational assumptions
> > include an open-endedness of human "possibilities".
> > Simmel does make a connection between the biological and sociological
> > realms as dialectically related between nature and human social
> existence.
> > This is Simmel's first great dualism, within which the second great
> dualism
> > [between subject and object within modernity]
> >
> > Henry Schermer and David Jury elaborate what they see as Simmel's
> abstract
> > conceptual model and method.  In outline they make these key formulations
> > of Simmel's work:
> >
> > 1] Simmel proceeds dialectically with two sets of concepts: i] a limited
> > number of GENERAL polarities or dualities. ii ] identification of a
> > potentially unlimited number of social and cultural 'forms' derived from
> > application of these general polarities.
> >
> > 2] The former general categories are seen as a hierarchy from most
> general
> > to least general dualities, including modalities and categories - such as
> > space and time - drawn from Kant and Hegel and others. Simmel draws a
> well
> > known distinction between "form" and "contents". These forms reveal the
> > fundamental patterns, and causes, and implications, of phenomena and by
> > presenting examples of these forms he elaborates his method.
> >
> > 3] the  polarities consist of pairs of "contradictory" concepts that
> > operate dialectically, with outcomes in cultural and social forms as
> > syntheses. For Simmel, recurring "social forms" such as "conflict" and
> > "co-operation" or "superordination" and "subordination" are patterns of
> > interaction analyzable as the dialectical outcome and synthesis, [the
> > reciprocal effects] of the combination of numerous polarities, dualities,
> > or "continua" [these related terms reflect  variations in emphasis,
> > according to context, of rejection of previous dichotomous categories of
> > thought.
> >
> > 4] This relational epistemology emphasizing interrelationships
> introduces a
> > related dialectical operation of dualities such as the tension between on
> > the one hand "human fulfillment and creativity" and on the other hand a
> > potentially oppressive "objective culture"-  which leads to human
> > "estrangement" and "alienation" - which for Simmel is thoroughly
> > dialectical implying an open-endedness of human capacities is present,
> but
> > this has more of a "blues hope" than the Enlightenment concept of hope.
> >
> > For Simmel it is crucial we differentiate "dualism" from
> > polarities/dualities. Dualism is dichotomies but polarities/dualities are
> > "continua". Simmel opposes "fixed" categories. Simmel's approach can be
> > summed up as involving "a unity of opposites". For Simmel there is no
> > endpoint or a final synthesis. Fusions of polarities are identified in
> > myriad social forms, without a fixed or final synthesis. Simmel, though
> > sometimes linked with Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, and Bergson,  his
> viewpoint
> > goes beyond these comparisons.
> >
> > "Reciprocity" the core concept for Simmel implies that nothing has a
> fixed
> > meaning and that meaning arises only through interaction.  The
> > subjective-objective duality [not pre-determined sides as in dualism]
> > Simmel sees as inherent in all social forms.  Simmel sees the properties
> of
> > form and the meanings of things AS a function of the relative distances -
> > and the routes taken - between things.  Life as the play of the dualities
> > of [distance and proximity] [separation and connection] [boundary and
> > separation] as hungers of the life force drives Simmel's analysis. Simmel
> > uses metaphor as a basic GENERAL TOOL in his analysis of forms. For
> > example the "bridge" correlates "separateness and unity"  The "door" in a
> > decisive manner reciprocally imagines "opening and closing" representing
> > the boundary between spaces. The doors "closure" provides a stronger
> > feeling of isolation against everything outside the space than does the
> > unstructured wall.
> > Hmanity can both imagine everything connected and everything separate
> > within reciprocal oscillation.Most often one side is imagined as
> "natural"
> > and the other side as "humanly constructed".
> > For Simmel, humans are BOTH "connecting" AND "bordering" creatures. This
> > notion of human beings suggests Simmel's general method which can guide
> all
> > our activity.
> >
> > The criticism of Simmel's work is that it was "impressionistic" and not
> > systematized but these may be caricatures of his work.
> > Lukac's belittledSimmel's work as "impressionistic". Frisby, taking his
> cue
> > from Walter Benjamin calling Baudelaire as a "flaneur"  [merely a roving
> > sketcher of city life as he wandered the streets] called Simmel a
> flaneur.
> > Randall Collins called Simmel a "salon entertainer"
> > Theodor Adorno saw Simmel as "a bourgeois aesthete" alluding to Simmel's
> > participation in artistic and literary salons in Berlin.
> >
> > What this actually shows is that Simmel was most focused on the
> "movement"
> > of thought itself characterized by paradox, duality, dialectic, and
> > relationism.  Simmel was always revising his concepts of form and content
> > and offered no final word.
> > Simmel's work presents a "unity" using the twin notions of
> > 1] reciprocal effect
> > 2] form and content
> >
> > Simmel is presenting a particular form of sociocultural order as a model
> of
> > modernity centered around "differentiation" within reciprocal enactments.
> > Simmel's work was not as systematic and disciplined and standardized to
> fit
> > into the emerging academy with its closed boundaries. He was more than a
> > sociologist. and cannot be "housed" or enclosed in that discipline. His
> > context was the "salon culture" and he must be read within this context.
> > [see Wittgenstein's Vienna for a picture into salon culture]
> > His informality is deceptive.  and the new re-search on Simmel as a
> > dialectical scholar shows how blind others are to the structure within
> his
> > approach.
> >
> > Simmel's last book [1918] "The View of Life" develops further Simmel's
> > notion of "life" as the vital force that moves us as an urge [a hunger]
> FOR
> > LIFE and the reciprocal life as a sense of "deadness" when closed off
> from
> > the vitality of life as open ended. This for Simmel is the realm of the
> "as
> > if" [similar to Bloch's Philosophy of Hope].
> >
> > But that also is for another post.
> >
>
>
>
> --
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Anthropology
> 880 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602
> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson
>



-- 
It is the dilemma of psychology to deal as a natural science with an object
that creates history. Ernst Boesch.