Art And Culture

Georg Simmel’s Articles in Persian

Georg Simmel’s Articles in PersianGeorg Simmel’s Articles in Persian

A collection of articles written by German sociologist, philosopher and critic Georg Simmel (1858-1918) has been published in Persian by the Tehran-based Donya-e-Eqtesad Publications.

Sociologist, fiction writer, translator, essayist and literary critic Shapour Behyan, 53, has translated a selection of Simmel’s articles and brought them out in a book ‘Georg Simmel, Selected Articles’.

The articles selected are based on Simmel’s speculations on spirituality and intellectualism, both significant in community life and within the intimate sphere of personal life, the Persian-language newspaper Donya-e-Eqtesad reported.

Simmel’s famous article on Fashion, published in 1904, is brought in the book, in which the roles of both imitation and the need to make distinctions are highlighted.

His theory of ruins too is included, according to which, ruins are the opposite of the perfect moment full of potentialities; they reveal in retrospect what this epiphanic moment had in prospect. Yet, as Russian literary critic, media artist, playwright and novelist Svetlana Boym (1959-2015) puts it in her article ‘Ruinophilia’, the ruins do not merely signal decay but also “a certain imaginative perspectivism in its hopeful and tragic dimension.”

His essay, ‘The Stranger’ introduces the notion of a stranger as a unique sociological category. According to Simmel, the stranger is a member of the group in which he lives and participates and yet remains distant from other native members of the group.

 Concept of Individual

Another article in the book is on Simmel’s conception of ‘individual’. For him, the individual is divided between the qualities of ‘what’ and ‘who.’

His unique view to metaphysics, which is far from a dogma, constitutes part of the book. Also his ‘The Philosophy of Landscape’ published in 1912. He saw landscape as constructed in the eyes of the beholder, and as proto-form or hypothetical.

According to Simmel, a landscape does not exist except on a conceptual level when humans perceive a piece of nature as such. He compares it to a library, which also merely denotes the conceptual unity that we perceive in a shelf of books.

‘The Transcendent Character of Life’ published in 1918 is also in the translated work. In this article, the meaning of boundaries existing in beings and behaviors are examined. His writings about fate and other subjects comprise a good part of the book.

Simmel has often been described as a philosopher of culture. One could just as well call him a philosopher of soul, of individualism, or of society.

“He was a philosopher,” as Hungarian sociologist Karl Mannheim (1893-1947) wrote, “because the great Socratic heritage of wonder about things was more alive in him than in any of his contemporaries.”

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