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Philosophica: International Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 27, Issue 53, April 2019

Perspectivas e Fronteiras do Humanos II

Gerd Hammer
Pages 79-89

Georg Simmel, Stefan George und der Erste Weltkrieg

Initially, the Great War was received euphorically by many writers and philosophers, including Max Weber, Martin Buber and Max Scheler along with Georg Simmel. For Simmel, the war was synonimous with a greater pace of life, a form of dealing with / overcoming the levelling of society caused by the worshipping of money (´Mammonismus`). This exaltation of the war on the part of intellectuals was not common to all – the harsh criticisms of Simmel´s enthusiasm for the war on the part of Georg Lucácz and Ernst Bloch are well-known. Regarding Stefan George, in 1901 Simmel had written: ´His art has been known since its beginning for the wish to act exclusively like an art (...) the fundamental change is complete: that on the contrary, all content is merely the means for forming values that are purely aesthetics.` Therefore, in the aesthetic of Stefan George, Simmel acknowledges the reason that George will reject the war – contrary to many members of George´s circle (George-Kreis) and has its expression in the poem ´The War`, first published in 1917. This contribution seeks to demonstrate the philosophical and aesthetical reasons for enthusiasm for the war and its rejection by Simmel and George, attitudes that are not able to be explained by the opposition to militarism/pacifism that is normally deployed to distinguish between supporters and critics of the war.

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