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Georg Simmel: Evolution and the Self-Transcendence of Life

Georg Simmel: Evolution and the Self-Transcendence of Life

Chapter:
(p.79) 3 Georg Simmel: Evolution and the Self-Transcendence of Life
Source:
The Moral Meaning of Nature
Author(s):
Peter J. Woodford
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226539928.003.0004

This chapter examines how Georg Simmel, a sociologist, philosopher, anthropologist of modern life, and political economist wrote himself into the tradition of “Life-philosophy” (Lebensphilosophie) and its response to Darwin that began with Nietzsche. It shows how Simmel developed Nietzsche’s views in response to widespread discussion of the limits of natural-scientific explanations that conflated questions of origins and causality with questions of normative validity. It shows also how Simmel negotiated the relationship between nature, life, and value not only in response to the explanation of religious ideals, but also the explanation of economic, aesthetic, and ethical values. The chapter argues that Simmel’s evolutionary thinking itself evolved throughout his career from a form of positivist empiricism to transcendental philosophy to his own metaphysics that was, finally, built around an evolutionary concept of life.

Keywords:   science and religion, Friedrich Nietzsche, Arthur Schopenhauer, Charles Darwin, philosophy of money, life, value, neo-Kantianism

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