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

And we don’t have to dress up. I’m still in my jammies (pajamas) here in snowy Albuquerque. Shall I send some snow your way, or would you rather have Rob’s rain?
> On Feb 28, 2015, at 12:37 PM, mike cole <mcole@ucsd.edu> wrote:
> 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.