Georg Simmel's essay “How Is Society Possible?” is built on the idea that an individual can develop himself or herself fully only by entering into society but nevertheless remains marked with an “in-addition” or “individuality-nucleus” that is never entirely socialized. In this manner, Simmel describes how a fundamental gap cannot but separate the essence of an individual from his or her expression in society, how he or she occupies the singular place where the “outside” and “inside” of a society have become indistinguishable, and therefore how the very dynamic that makes society possible does not in fact fully belong to it. More than fifty years after Simmel's essay the concept of an “irreducible outside” reemerged in the works of the French poststructuralists as a way to analyze the primacy of strategies of resistance over manifestations of power. Exploring how processes of “micropolitics” occur in coexistence and confrontation with state apparatuses and not in independence from them, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari built their philosophy on intuitions closely related to those of Simmel, thus illustrating the relevance of his views on society for the world of today.
A Close Reading of Georg Simmel's Essay “How Is Society Possible?” The Thought of the Outside and Its Various Incarnations
Stéphane Symons; A Close Reading of Georg Simmel's Essay “How Is Society Possible?” The Thought of the Outside and Its Various Incarnations. New German Critique 1 February 2009; 36 (1 (106)): 103–117. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-2008-023
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