Georg Simmel and Pragmatism

European Journal of Pragmatism and American Philosophy 11 (1) (2019)
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This paper offers some brief reflections on pragmatist themes in Georg Simmel’s philosophy. §1 presents a number of assessments – by Simmel’s contemporaries, by later interpreters, and by Simmel himself – concerning his proximity to pragmatism. §2 offers a reconstruction of Simmel’s 1885-paper “The Relationship between the Theory of Selection and Epistemology,” focusing in particular on what the argument owed to von Helmholtz. It was this paper first and foremost that suggested to many that Simmel was close to pragmatism. §§3-5 follow the development of the core idea of the 1885-paper in Simmel’s subsequent writings. §§6-8 compare and contrasts Simmel’s views on evolution and truth with the positions of Peirce, James, and Dewey. §9 returns to the overall question whether Simmel was a pragmatist and offers an irenic answer.

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Martin Kusch
University of Vienna


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