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How Is Society Possible?

By Simmel, Georg

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Book Id: WPLBN0000114388
Format Type: PDF eBook
File Size: 0.5 MB
Reproduction Date: 2005
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Title: How Is Society Possible?  
Author: Simmel, Georg
Language: English
Subject: Literature, Literature & thought, Writing.
Collections: Classic Literature Collection
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Publisher: World Ebook Library


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Simmel, G. (n.d.). How Is Society Possible?. Retrieved from

Kant could propose and answer the fundamental question of his philosophy, How is nature possible?, only because for him nature was nothing but the representation (Vorstellung) of nature. This does not mean merely that the world is my representation, that we thus can speak of nature only so far as it is a content of our consciousness, but that what we call nature is a special way in which our intellect assembles, orders, and forms the sense-perceptions. These given perceptions, of color, taste, tone, temperature, resistance, smell, which in the accidental sequence of subjective experience course through our consciousness, are in and of themselves not yet nature; but they become nature through the activity of the mind, which combines them into objects and series of objects, into substances and attributes and into causal coherences. As the elements of the world are given to us immediately, there does not exist among them, according to Kant, that coherence (Verbindung) which alone can make out of them the intelligible regular (gesetzmassig) unity of nature; or rather, which signifies precisely the being-nature (Natur-Sein) of those in themselves incoherently and irregularly emerging world-fragments. Thus the Kantian world-picture grows in the most peculiar reJection (Wiederspiel), Our sense-impressions are for this process purely subjective, since they depend upon the physico-psychical organization, which in other beings might be different, but they become objects since they are taken up by the forms of our intellect, and by these are fashioned into fixed regularities and into a coherent picture of nature. On the other hand, however, those perceptions are the real given, the unalterably accumulating content of the world and the assurance of an existence independent of ourselves, so that now those very intellectual formings of the same into objects, coherences, regularities, appear as subjective, as that which is brought to the situation by ourselves, in contrast with that which we have received from the externally existent - i.e., these formings appear as the functions of the intellect itself, which in themselves unchangeable, had constructed from another sense-material a nature with another content. Nature is for Kant a definite sort of cognition, a picture growing through and in our cognitive categories. The question then, How is nature possible?, i.e., what are the conditions which must be present in order that a nature may be given, is resolved by him through discovery of the forms which constitute the essence of our intellect and therewith bring into being nature as such.

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