Simmels ‚Exkurs über die Soziologie der Sinne’ — Zentraltext einer anthropologischen Soziologie

  • Joachim Fischer

Simmel’s “Excursus on the Sociology of the Senses”: A key study of anthropological sociology


The article reconstructs Simmel’s essay “Excursus on the Sociology of the Senses” as a central text of a sociology of the body, as a paradigmatic approach to an anthropological sociology. It re-systemizes Simmel’s partly implicit, partly explicit non-or pre-sociological aesthesiological premises on the senses as well as his twofold sociological perspective on the senses, i.e. the senses as a constituting factor of social relations on the one hand and the social regulation and construction of the senses on the other hand. Simmel’s phenomenological view on the structure and function of the senses (their immanence of abstraction, double perspective, difference and combination) is shown to be the aesthesiological foundation of his sociological approach, being perhaps part of a philosophical anthropology, that systematically reconstructs the basic significance of the senses or the body as prefiguring a person’s relation to him/herself, to the world and to others while at the same time saving him from biologistic reduction. The senses have their share in constituting the social world by which they are at the same time interpreted, modeled and constructed. Methodologically systemized in this way, Simmel’s essay in nuce reveals an aesthesiology of the senses that opens up the possibility of an anthropological sociology apt to rebalance the linguistic turn not only by an iconic turn but also by an acoustic turn (that can rediscover the sociological relevance of ‘parole’ against the dominance of ‘langue’).


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  1. Simmel, Georg, (1968), Exkurs über die Soziologie der Sinne, in: Ders., Soziologie. Untersuchungen über die Formen der Vergesellschaftung (1908), Berlin, 5. Auflage 1968, S. 483–493.Google Scholar
  2. Plessner, Helmuth, (1980), Einheit der Sinne. Grundlinien einer Ästhesiologie des Geistes (1923), in: Ders., Gesammelte Schriften, hg. v. G. Dux, O. Marquard, E. Ströker, Bd. III, Frankfurt a. M. 1980, S. 7–315.Google Scholar
  3. Straus, Erwin, (1956), Vom Sinn der Sinne. Ein Beitrag zur Grundlegung der Psychologie (1935), 2. vermehrte Aufl. Berlin 1956.Google Scholar

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© VS Verlag für Sozialwissenschaften/Wiesbaden 2002

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  • Joachim Fischer

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