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Simmel’s (non-human) humanism: On Simmel’s ‘ethics of endings and futures’


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Given the recent non-human turn in sociology and the social sciences, the popularity of theories of entanglement, and contemporary concern with the concept of the anthropocene, it is easy to forget that classical sociology was always-already aware of the relationship between humanity and non-humanity. Although Daniel Chernilo focuses upon the debate between Sartre and Heidegger in his recent Debating Humanity, and contrasts Sartre’s Humanism with Heidegger’s Anti-Humanism to frame his exploration of the limits of the human in contemporary social theory, we could easily locate the same concern with the human and its relationship to the nonhuman in Marx, Tarde, and centrally for the purposes of this article, the work of Georg Simmel. Expanding upon this insight concerning the relevance of Simmel’s work for understanding our ‘entangled present’, the purpose of this article is to explore Simmel’s work and recent interpretations of his sociology that seek to project Simmelian thought into the future in significantly different ways. To this end, the article critically engages with Pyyhtinen’s recent reading of Simmel’s work that focuses upon his legacy with a view of exploring his future through consideration of (1) Fitzi’s exploration of Simmel’s ethics of the individual, (2) Kemple’s turn to Simmel’s religiosity, and finally (3) Beer’s reading of the late Simmel, who, I suggest might inform the emergence of a kind of non-human humanism capable of thinking beyond the mortal limits of the anthropocene that paradoxically imagines its own post-human immortality.


featherstone. (2020). Simmel’s (non-human) humanism: On Simmel’s ‘ethics of endings and futures’. Journal of Classical Sociology, 21(2), 203-220.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 1, 2020
Publication Date May 1, 2020
Journal Journal of Classical Sociology
Print ISSN 1468-795X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Volume 21
Issue 2
Article Number ARTN 1468795X20915667
Pages 203-220
Keywords Death, humanism, non-humanism, post-humanism, Simmel
Publisher URL


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