Aspects Concerning the Criticality of Karl Marx's and Georg Simmel's Approaches

Thursday, 19 July 2018: 11:30
Oral Presentation
Stefan FORNOS KLEIN, Universidade de Brasilia (UnB), Brazil
The hereby proposed presentation aims to discuss to which extent both theoretical contributions brought forward by Karl Marx and Georg Simmel can be seen as critical theories. While hereto I shall focus primarily on the writings Capital and Philosophy of Money, further of their texts and reflections will subsidize my argumentation. The point of departure is the fact that both authors have (albeit different) philosophical roots, but while Marx explicitly avoided disciplinary specialization, Simmel made deep efforts to institutionalize a certain concept of sociology, contributing to constitute sociology as a discipline. Nevertheless, after his formulation was overwhelmed by the views of Émile Durkheim, and following the difficult academic path he had to endure, Simmel gradually redirected his studies, aiming to problematize wider and varied aspects of culture.

Here it is where, simultaneously, lies their proximity – thus a possibility of building conceptual bridges –, and their difference. My theoretical analysis departs from the roles exherted by commodity fetishism and reification. Since each wrote during different historical contexts, culture (as a concept) never became a centerpiece of Marx's work, who among others organized his thoughts around the centrality of critique as a fundamental standpoint. For his turn, Simmel – writing on the verge of the XXth century, and thus being influenced by another set of thoughts – took up a materialist debate, moving towards establishing dialogues between philosopical, psychological, and sociological traits of culture. Interpreting aspects concerning this fractured dynamics of rupture and continuity appears as my main objetive, understanding that therefore, both authors share a vital common ground, in that they never restricted themselves to a particular discipline throughout their works, even while aiming to design and establish certain novel viewpoints. Finally I shall present a few insights regarding how this process posited them in relative core or periphery positions.