Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I
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Handbook on the History of Economic Analysis Volume I

Great Economists Since Petty and Boisguilbert

Edited by Gilbert Faccarello and Heinz D. Kurz

Volume I contains original biographical profiles of many of the most important and influential economists from the seventeenth century to the present day. These inform the reader about their lives, works and impact on the further development of the discipline. The emphasis is on their lasting contributions to our understanding of the complex system known as the economy. The entries also shed light on the means and ways in which the functioning of this system can be improved and its dysfunction reduced. Each Handbook can be read individually and acts as a self-contained volume in its own right. It can be purchased separately or as part of a three-volume set.
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Chapter 56: Georg Simmel (1858–1918)

Dieter Bögenhold


Georg Simmel (born in Berlin 1858, died in Strasbourg 1918) counts as a classic in the social sciences. Although his major book was entitled The Philosophy of Money, Simmel is regarded as a sociologist. His academic career was not successful, since he repeatedly failed to obtain a chair at a university until, finally, four years before he passed away, he was appointed to a professorship at Strasbourg University. The reasons for his failures are diverse. Simmel’s Jewish background has often been mentioned as one cause for being neglected; another reason was certainly that he was not mainstream. In 1908 he was considered for a chair in philosophy at Heidelberg University, following Max Weber’s recommendation. In the end, a majority in the university council decided to withdraw the call for Simmel, since he could not be clearly categorized as a member of one or the other discipline, and many committee members qualified his writing style as insufficiently academic and too essayist-narrative. Simmel studied history, psychology and philosophy. He submitted a work on music as PhD thesis, which was rejected, and he replaced his submission with a study on Kant, which was finally accepted. Two years later, he encountered similar problems with his “habilitation” thesis: a first submission was accepted only after a long process of confrontational debate, and his first “habilitation” defence lecture was rejected, so that a second lecture became necessary. Simmel had no real financial problems, since he was able to live on an inheritance left to him by...

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