Beneath and Beyond the Fragments: The Charms of Simmel's Philosophical Path for Contemporary Subjectivities

Isabelle Darmon, Carlos Frade

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Our purpose in this article is to explore the reasons for the continued attractiveness of Simmel's thought today and to probe the contemporary affinities to his philosophical stance towards the world. Simmel anchored the 'philosophical attitude' in the philosopher's particularly developed disposition for Erlebnis, i.e. the unified pre-conceptual experience of each moment of reality and life, as well as in a particular mode of objectivating this experience. We provide an illustration of such an approach and its implications through Simmel's analysis of 'remoteness from oneself' and the restlessness it entails in The Philosophy of Money. We argue that Simmel's attempt at phenomenologically unveiling the contours and depths of life moments and fragments, as well as his emphasis on constant movement, provide much reassurance to contemporary subjectivities. But his philosophical stance is also driven by a quasi-mystical yearning for the One that lies beneath and beyond the fragments. We propose an initial assessment of the main implications of such a stance by relating it to the philosophical path it opened up (a path directly linking to Heidegger and his followers, but also in part to Deleuze) and by placing it in what we understand to be the new philosophical situation today. © The Author(s) 2012 Reprints and permissions:
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)197-217
Number of pages20
JournalTheory, Culture & Society: explorations in critical social science
Issue number7-8
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2012


  • experience
  • life
  • philosophy
  • Simmel


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