Simmel, explicated

Having a hard time with Simmel? This essay breaks it down nicely:

“In the essay—a thoroughly turgid read, but essential—Simmel offers a theory of what happens to people when they live in cities, and how it relates to the ‘resistance of the individual to being leveled, swallowed up in the social-technological mechanism.’ Simmel regards this kind of ontological insecurity—the fear in part of becoming so anonymous as to seem to have never existed—as the characteristic modern struggle, the ‘deepest problem of modern life.’ Modernity means having to struggle against determinism rather than revel in it as part of a Providential plan.  Because of industrialization and the romanticism that sprung up in reaction, Simmel writes, ‘No longer was it the “general human quality” in every individual but rather his qualitative uniqueness and irreplaceability that now became the criteria of his value.'”

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