By Andre Corvisier, A.T. Siddall
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Additional resources for Armies and Societies in Europe, 1494-1789
By exploring the philosophical foundation of Simmel’s processualism, the chapter situates his process-oriented notion of the social within the broader context of his work. In so doing, the chapter will hopefully also provide the reader with some helpful conceptual background. In Chapter 4, Simmel’s preoccupation with the surprising instant of the ‘event’ (Geschehen) of associations is discussed. Eventalizing dissolves society as a hypostatized, reified generality into dynamic reciprocal relations.
What the various reflections have in common could be termed, crudely, sociological culture – as analogous to what Simmel called ‘philosophical culture’. Namely, in the introduction to the compilation of essays, Philosophische Kultur (‘Philosophical Culture’) published in 1911, Simmel maintains that what different 34 Simmel and ‘the Social’ philosophical schools and doctrines have in common is not, or at least not solely, their content, object of study, certain dogmas, or results. Rather, what is more decisive is the fact they share a ‘specific spiritual attitude to the world and life, a functional form and manner of picking things and treating them innerly’ (GSG 14, p.
It concerns the scale or scope of their accounts. Many theories of society not only present themselves as somewhat ahistorical and eternal but also claim universality. When Simmel proposes that society consists of relations of reciprocal effect, he is not speaking of any particular society but of society in general. Near the end of Soziologie, he suggests that the social relation is a general mode of being for humans: ‘Mankind has created societalization [Vergesellschaftung] as its form of life’ (GSG 11, p.