Prior to the First World War the philosopher Georg Simmel (1858-1918) was known for his left-liberal political views, artistic bohemian sympathies and the open dialectical style of philosophical argumentation with its constant play of ‘pro’ and ‘contra’ that avoided as much as possible any commitment to a particular world view. But as war broke out, Simmel’s thinking seemed to undergo a radical transformation. Not only that, like many of his colleagues, he took an unambiguous patriotic stance towards the war – in his writings and letters he actually advocated a view that turned out to be much more radical in his appraisal of the war than that of other mandarins. Simmel formulated the ethics of decisionism, rejected outright the values of the old world and envisioned the profound cultural and social transformation that would give birth to the ‘new man’. The lecture will examine the reasons for this change in Simmel’s attitude in the context of the inner logic of his own philosophy and of the contemporary intellectual context, with a special focus on Simmel’s interaction with the Stefan George Circle.
Efraim Podoksik is Senior Lecturer at the Department of Political Science of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He specialises in the nineteenth- and twentieth centuries European intellectual history, and for several years he has been working on the intellectual biography of Georg Simmel. The lecture is based on a section from his book in progress Unity, Variety, and the Discontents of Modernity: Georg Simmel and German Culture
Discussant: Daniel Rosenberg
ההרצאה מתקיימת במסגרת סדרת ההרצאות הירושלמיות למחשבה פוליטית ותולדות הרעיונות