Ideal Potentials in Action: Schutzian Affinities in Simmel’s View of Life

Authors

  • Simon Lafontaine

Abstract

The View of Life is still under-studied despite its status as capstone to Simmel’s work. Departing from Simmel’s image as an unsystematic flâneur or bricoleur, I assess the affinity of his late theory of life forms with Schutz’s analysis of human action in three steps: First, as a common concern with the clarification of foundational problems that coincide with interpretive sociology’s basic idea of tracing back all cultural objectivations to the dynamics of living processes. Second, as an articulation of life’s self-transcendence concordant with the tension between action as a projected act (modo futuri exacti) and as an ongoing process (modo presenti) uncovered by Schutz for the first time in his posthumously published book Life Forms and Meaning Structures. I follow with a third proposal about how Simmel’s line of thought on freedom as a capacity to break through purposiveness and as a rise of ideal constructs might complement Schutz’s attention to the growth of the acting self through life events, suggesting that The View of Life can be regarded as a precedent to Schutz for linking action projection to the development of aspirations and ideals, and to theorize how the realization of projects supports the development of individual integrity and the ability to appropriate one’s life in the midst of unfamiliar and critical situations. Simmel and Schutz are thus shown to contribute to an approach to creative action in sociology.

References

Backhaus, Gary. 2003. ‘Husserlian Affinities in Simmel’s Philosophy of History: The 1918 Essay’. Human Studies 26 (2): 223–58.

Bergson, Henri. 1944. Creative Evolution. New York: Random House.

Dreher, Jochen. 2003. ‘The Symbol and the Theory of the Life-World: ‘The Transcendences of the Life-World and Their Overcoming by Signs and Symbols’’. Human Studies 26 (2): 141–63.

Fitzi, Gregor. 2016. ‘Modernity as Solid Liquidity: Simmel’s Life-Sociology’. In The Anthem Companion to Georg Simmel, edited by Thomas Kemple and Olli Pyyhtinen, 59–80. London: Anthem Press.

———. 2020. ‘Simmel’s ‘Late Life Metaphysics’’. In The Routledge International Handbook of Simmel Studies, by Gregor Fitzi, edited by Gregor Fitzi, 1st ed., 138–51. Gregor Fitzi. Description: 1 Edition. | New York : Routledge, 2020. |: Routledge. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429297502-9.

Freeman, Elizabeth. 2010. Time Binds: Queer Temporalities, Queer Histories. Perverse Modernities. Durham: Duke University Press.

Husserl, Edmund. 1969. Formal and Transcendental Logic. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

Jaspers, Karl. 1957. Man in the Modern Age. Translated by Eden Paul and Cedar Paul. Garden City: Doubleday Anchor Books.

Jaworski, Gary D. 2021. ‘Goffman, Schutz, and the ‘Secret of the Other’’. In The Routledge International Handbook of Simmel Studies, edited by Gregor Fitzi, 1 Edition, 372–82. Routledge International Handbooks. London ; New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.

Kemple, Thomas. 2018. Simmel. Cambridge: Polity Press.

———. 2020. ‘Framing, Painting, Seeing: Simmel’s Rembrandt and the Sense of Modernity’. In The Routledge International Handbook of Simmel Studies, edited by Gregor Fitzi, 196–209. New York: Routledge.

Knoblauch, Hubert. 2014. ‘Projection, Imagination, and Novelty: Towards a Theory of Creative Action Based on Schutz’. In The Interrelation of Phenomenology, Social Sciences and the Arts, edited by Michael Barber and Jochen Dreher, 31–49. Dordrecht: Springer.

Lash, Scott. 2005. ‘Lebenssoziologie: Georg Simmel in the Information Age’. Theory, Culture & Society 22 (3): 1–23.

Levine, Donald N. 1989. ‘Simmel as a Resource for Sociological Metatheory’. Sociological Theory 7 (2): 161.

Macherey, Pierre. 2017. S’orienter. Paris: Editions Kimé.

Natanson, Maurice. 1986. Anonymity: A Study in the Philosophy of Alfred Schutz. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Perreau, Laurent. 2012. ‘Symboles et monde de la vie. La sémiologie phénoménologique d’Alfred Schütz’. Philosophie n° 115 (4): 31–44.

Pyyhtinen, Olli. 2010. Simmel and ‘The Social’. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan.

———. 2012. ‘Life, Death and Individuation: Simmel on the Problem of Life Itself’. Theory Cult. Soc. Theory, Culture and Society 29 (7–8): 78–100.

———. 2018. The Simmelian Legacy: A Science of Relations. Traditions in Social Theory. London: Palgrave, Macmillan Education.

Schutz, Alfred. 1962a. ‘Choosing Among Projects of Action’. In Collected Papers I. The Problem of Social Reality, edited by Maurice Natanson, 67–96. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

———. 1962b. ‘Common-Sense and Scientific Interpretation of Human Action’. In Collected Papers I. The Problem of Social Reality, edited by Maurice Natanson, 3–47. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

———. 1962c. ‘Phenomenology and the Social Sciences’. In Collected Papers I. The Problem of Social Reality, edited by Maurice Natanson, 118–39. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

———. 1962d. ‘Some Leading Concepts of Phenomenology’. In Collected Papers I. The Problem of Social Reality, edited by Maurice Natanson, 99–117. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

———. 1962e. ‘Symbol, Reality and Society’. In Collected Papers I. The Problem of Social Reality, edited by Maurice Natanson, 287–356. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

———. 1964. ‘The Homecomer’. In Collected Papers II. Studies in Social Theory, edited by Arvid Brodersen, 106–19. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff.

———. 1967. The Phenomenology of the Social World. Evanston: Northwestern University Press.

———. 2013a. ‘Life Forms and Meaning Structure’. In Collected Papers VI. Literary Reality and Relationships, edited by Michael Barber, 10–198. Dordrecht: Springer.

———. 2013b. ‘The Problem of Personality in the Social World’. In Collected Papers VI. Literary Reality and Relationships, edited by Michael Barber, 199–240. Dordrecht: Springer.

Silver, Daniel, and Milos Brocic. 2019. ‘Three Concepts of Form in Simmel’s Sociology’. The Germanic Review: Literature, Culture, Theory 94 (2): 114–24.

Simmel, Georg. 1958. ‘Anfang Einer Unvollendeten Selbstdarstellung’. In Buch Des Dankes an Georg Simmel, edited by K. Gassen and M. Landmann, 9–10. Berlin: Duncker & Humblot.

———. 1971a. ‘How Is Society Possible?’ In Georg Simmel: On Individuality and Social Forms, edited by Donald N. Levine, 6–22. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

———. 1971b. ‘The Conflict in Modern Culture’. In On Individuality and Social Forms, edited by Donald N. Levine, 375–93. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

———. 1977. The Problems of the Philosophy of History: An Epistemological Essay. New York: Free Press.

———. 1980. Essays on Interpretation in Social Science. Translated by Guy Oakes. Manchester: Manchester Univ. Press.

———. 1997. ‘The Crisis of Culture’. In Simmel on Culture: Selected Writings, edited by David Patrick Frisby and Mike Featherstone, 90–100. London: SAGE Publications.

———. 2004. The Philosophy of Money. Translated by Tom Bottomore and David Frisby. London ; New York: Routledge.

———. 2009. Sociology: Inquiries into the Construction of Social Forms. Leiden ; Boston: Brill.

———. 2010. The View of Life: Four Metaphysical Essays with Journal Aphorisms. Translated by Donald N. Levine and John A. Y. Andrews. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

———. 2019. ‘On Some Contemporary Problems of Philosophy’. Translated by Olli Pyyhtinen and Thomas Kemple. Simmel Studies 23 (2): 111–19. https://doi.org/10.7202/1075214ar.

Srubar, Ilja. 1988. Kosmion. Die Genese Der Pragmatischen Lebenswelttheorie von Alfred Schütz Und Ihr Anthropologischer Hintergrund. Suhrkamp: Frankfurt am Main.

Strassheim, Jan. 2016. ‘The Problem of ‘Experiencing Transcendence’ in Symbols, Everyday Language and Other Persons’. Schutzian Research 8: 75–101.

———. 2017. ‘Language and Lifeworld: Schutz and Habermas on Idealization’. Civitas. Revista de Ciências Sociais 17 (3): 411.

Straus, Erwin W. 1980. Phenomenological Psychology. New York: Garland Pub.

Wagner, Helmut R. 1977. ‘The Bergsonian Period of Alfred Schutz’. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 38 (2): 187–99.

Worms, Frédéric. 1993. ‘Les trois dimensions de la question de l’espace dans l’oeuvre de Bergson’. Edited by Renaud Barbaras. Revue Épokhè, no. 4 (L'espace lui-même): 89–116.

Published

2021-09-27

Issue

Section

Articles