Chapter 1 The Metropolis and Mental Life Georg Simmel The deepest problems of modern life flow modern aspects of contemporary life with from the attempt of the individual to main- reference to their inner meaning ± when, so tain the independence and individuality of to speak, one examines the body of culture his existence against the sovereign powers with reference to the soul, as I am to do of society, against the weight of the histor- concerning the metropolis today ± the ical heritage and the external culture and answer will require the investigation of technique of life. This antagonism repre- the relationship which such a social struc- sents the most modern form of the conflict ture promotes between the individual which primitive man must carry on with aspects of life and those which transcend nature for his own bodily existence. The the existence of single individuals. It will eighteenth century may have called for lib- require the investigation of the adaptations eration from all the ties which grew up made by the personality in its adjustment to historically in politics, in religion, in mor- the forces that lie outside of it. ality and in economics in order to permit The psychological foundation, upon the original natural virtue of man, which is which the metropolitan individuality is equal in everyone, to develop without in- erected, is the intensification of emotional hibition; the nineteenth century may have life due to the swift and continuous shift of sought to promote, in addition to man's external and internal stimuli. Man is a crea- freedom, his individuality (which is con- ture whose existence is dependent on differ- nected with the division of labour) and his ences, i.e. his mind is stimulated by the achievements which make him unique and difference between present impressions indispensable but which at the same time and those which have preceded. Lasting make him so much the more dependent on impressions, the slightness in their differ- the complementary activity of others; ences, the habituated regularity of their Nietzsche may have seen the relentless course and contrasts between them, con- struggle of the individual as the prerequisite sume, so to speak, less mental energy than for his full development, while socialism the rapid telescoping of changing images, found the same thing in the suppression of pronounced differences within what is all competition ± but in each of these the grasped at a single glance, and the unex- same fundamental motive was at work, pectedness of violent stimuli. To the extent namely the resistance of the individual to that the metropolis creates these psycho- being levelled, swallowed up in the social- logical conditions ± with every crossing technological mechanism. When one in- of the street, with the tempo and multipli- quires about the products of the specifically city of economic, occupational and social 12 GEORG SIMMEL life ± it creates in the sensory foundations of omy and the domination of the intellect mental life, and in the degree of awareness stand in the closest relationship to one an- necessitated by our organization as crea- other. They have in common a purely tures dependent on differences, a deep con- matter-of-fact attitude in the treatment trast with the slower, more habitual, more of persons and things in which a formal smoothly flowing rhythm of the sensory- justice is often combined with an unrelent- mental phase of small town and rural exist- ing hardness. The purely intellectualistic ence. Thereby the essentially intellectualis- person is indifferent to all things personal tic character of the mental life of the because, out of them, relationships and re- metropolis becomes intelligible as over actions develop which are not to be com- against that of the small town which rests pletely understood by purely rational more on feelings and emotional relation- methods ± just as the unique element in ships. These latter are rooted in the uncon- events never enters into the principle of scious levels of the mind and develop most money. Money is concerned only with readily in the steady equilibrium of un- what is common to all, i.e. with the ex- broken customs. The locus of reason, on change value which reduces all quality the other hand, is in the lucid, conscious and individuality to a purely quantitative upper strata of the mind and it is the most level. All emotional relationships between adaptable of our inner forces. In order to persons rest on their individuality, whereas adjust itself to the shifts and contradictions intellectual relationships deal with persons in events, it does not require the disturb- as with numbers, that is, as with elements ances and inner upheavals which are the which, in themselves, are indifferent, but only means whereby more conservative which are of interest only insofar as they personalities are able to adapt themselves offer something objectively perceivable. It to the same rhythm of events. Thus the is in this very manner that the inhabitant of metropolitan type ± which naturally takes the metropolis reckons with his merchant, on a thousand individual modifications ± his customer and with his servant, and fre- creates a protective organ for itself against quently with the persons with whom he is the profound disruption with which the thrown into obligatory association. These fluctuations and discontinuities of the ex- relationships stand in distinct contrast with ternal milieu threaten it. Instead of reacting the nature of the smaller circle in which emotionally, the metropolitan type reacts the inevitable knowledge of individual primarily in a rational manner, thus creat- characteristics produces, with an equal in- ing a mental predominance through the evitability, an emotional tone in conduct, a intensification of consciousness, which in sphere which is beyond the mere objective turn is caused by it. Thus the reaction of weighting of tasks performed and pay- the metropolitan person to those events is ments made. What is essential here as moved to a sphere of mental activity which regards the economic-psychological aspect is least sensitive and which is furthest re- of the problem is that in less advanced cul- moved from the depths of the personality. tures production was for the customer who This intellectualistic quality which is ordered the product so that the producer thus recognized as a protection of the and the purchaser knew one another. The inner life against the domination of the modern city, however, is supplied almost metropolis, becomes ramified into numer- exclusively by production for the market, ous specific phenomena. The metropolis that is, for entirely unknown purchasers has always been the seat of money economy who never appear in the actual field of vis- because the many-sidedness and concentra- ion of the producers themselves. Thereby, tion of commercial activity have given the the interests of each party acquire a relent- medium of exchange an importance which less matter-of-factness, and its rationally it could not have acquired in the commer- calculated economic egoism need not fear cial aspects of rural life. But money econ- any divergence from its set path because of THE METROPOLIS AND MENTAL LIFE 13 the imponderability of personal relation- cerns of the typical metropolitan resident ships. This is all the more the case in the are so manifold and complex that, espe- money economy which dominates the cially as a result of the agglomeration of metropolis in which the last remnants of so many persons with such differentiated domestic production and direct barter of interests, their relationships and activities goods have been eradicated and in which intertwine with one another into a many- the amount of production on direct per- membered organism. In view of this fact, sonal order is reduced daily. Furthermore, the lack of the most exact punctuality in this psychological intellectualistic attitude promises and performances would cause and the money economy are in such close the whole to break down into an inextric- integration that no one is able to say able chaos. If all the watches in Berlin sud- whether it was the former that effected the denly went wrong in different ways even latter or vice versa. What is certain is only only as much as an hour, its entire economic that the form of life in the metropolis is the and commercial life would be derailed for soil which nourishes this interaction most some time. Even though this may seem fruitfully, a point which I shall attempt to more superficial in its significance, it tran- demonstrate only with the statement of the spires that the magnitude of distances most outstanding English constitutional results in making all waiting and the break- historian to the effect that through the ing of appointments an ill-afforded waste entire course of English history London of time. For this reason the technique of has never acted as the heart of England metropolitan life in general is not conceiv- but often as its intellect and always as its able without all of its activities and recipro- money bag. cal relationships being organized and In certain apparently insignificant char- coordinated in the most punctual way into acters or traits of the most external aspects a firmly fixed framework of time which of life are to be found a number of charac- transcends all subjective elements. But teristic mental tendencies. The modern here too there emerge those conclusions mind has become more and more a calcu- which are in general the whole task of this lating one. The calculating exactness discussion, namely, that every event, how- of practical life which has resulted from a ever restricted to this superficial level it money economy corresponds to the ideal of may appear, comes immediately into con- natural science, namely that of transform- tact with the depths of the soul, and that the ing the world into an arithmetical problem most banal externalities are, in the last an- and of fixing every one of its parts in a alysis, bound up with the final decisions mathematical formula. It has been money concerning the meaning and the style of economy which has thus filled the daily life life. Punctuality, calculability and exact- of so many people with weighing, calculat- ness, which are required by the complica- ing, enumerating and the reduction of tions and extensiveness of metropolitan qualitative values to quantitative terms. Be- life, are not only most intimately connected cause of the character of calculability with its capitalistic and intellectualistic which money has there has come into the character but also colour the content of relationships of the elements of life a preci- life and are conductive to the exclusion sion and a degree of certainty in the defin- of those irrational, instinctive, sovereign ition of the equalities and inequalities and human traits and impulses which originally an unambiguousness in agreements and ar- seek to determine the form of life from rangements, just as externally this precision within instead of receiving it from the out- has been brought about through the general side in a general, schematically precise diffusion of pocket watches. It is, however, form. Even though those lives which are the conditions of the metropolis which are autonomous and characterized by these cause as well as effect for this essential vital impulses are not entirely impossible characteristic. The relationships and con- in the city, they are, none the less, opposed 14 GEORG SIMMEL to it in abstracto. It is in the light of this that dullness, but rather that the meaning and we can explain the passionate hatred of the value of the distinctions between things, personalities like Ruskin and Nietzsche and therewith of the things themselves, are for the metropolis ± personalities who experienced as meaningless. They appear found the value of life only in unschema- to the blase person in a homogeneous, flat Â tized individual expressions which cannot and grey colour with no one of them be reduced to exact equivalents and in worthy of being preferred to another. This whom, on that account, there flowed from psychic mood is the correct subjective re- the same source as did that hatred, the flection of a complete money economy to hatred of the money economy and of the the extent that money takes the place of all intellectualism of existence. the manifoldness of things and expresses all The same factors which, in the exactness qualitative distinctions between them in the and the minute precision of the form of distinction of how much. To the extent that life, have coalesced into a structure of the money, with its colourlessness and its indif- highest impersonality, have on the other ferent quality, can become a common de- hand, an influence in a highly personal dir- nominator of all values, it becomes the ection. There is perhaps no psychic phe- frightful leveller ± it hollows out the core nomenon which is so unconditionally of things, their peculiarities, their specific reserved to the city as the blase outlook. It Â values and their uniqueness and incompar- is at first the consequence of those rapidly ability in a way which is beyond repair. shifting stimulations of the nerves which They all float with the same specific gravity are thrown together in all their contrasts in the constantly moving stream of money. and from which it seems to us the intensifi- They all rest on the same level and are cation of metropolitan intellectuality seems distinguished only by their amounts. In in- to be derived. On that account it is not dividual cases this colouring, or rather this likely that stupid persons who have been de-colouring of things, through their equa- hitherto intellectually dead will be blase. Â tion with money, may be imperceptibly Just as an immoderately sensuous life small. In the relationship, however, which makes one blase because it stimulates the Â the wealthy person has to objects which can nerves to their utmost reactivity until they be bought for money, perhaps indeed in the finally can no longer produce any reaction total character which, for this reason, at all, so, less harmful stimuli, through the public opinion now recognizes in these rapidity and the contradictoriness of their objects, it takes on very considerable pro- shifts, force the nerves to make such violent portions. This is why the metropolis is the responses, tear them about so brutally that seat of commerce and it is in it that the they exhaust their last reserves of strength purchasability of things appears in quite a and, remaining in the same milieu, do not different aspect than in simpler economies. have time for new reserves to form. This It is also the peculiar seat of the blase atti- Â incapacity to react to new stimulations tude. In it is brought to a peak, in a certain with the required amount of energy consti- way, that achievement in the concentration tutes in fact that blase attitude which every Â of purchasable things which stimulates the child of a large city evinces when compared individual to the highest degree of nervous with the products of the more peaceful and energy. Through the mere quantitative in- more stable milieu. tensification of the same conditions this Combined with this physiological source achievement is transformed into its oppos- of the blase metropolitan attitude there is Â ite, into this peculiar adaptive phenomenon another, which derives from a money econ- ± the blase attitude ± in which the nerves Â omy. The essence of the blase attitude is an Â reveal their final possibility of adjusting indifference toward the distinctions be- themselves to the content and the form tween things. Not in the sense that they of metropolitan life by renouncing the are not perceived, as is the case of mental response to them. We see that the self- THE METROPOLIS AND MENTAL LIFE 15 preservation of certain types of personal- suggestions would be unbearable. From ities is obtained at the cost of devaluing these two typical dangers of metropolitan the entire objective world, ending inevit- life we are saved by antipathy which is the ably in dragging the personality downward latent adumbration of actual antagonism into a feeling of its own valuelessness. since it brings about the sort of distantiation Whereas the subject of this form of exist- and deflection without which this type of ence must come to terms with it for himself, life could not be carried on at all. Its extent his self-preservation in the face of the great and its mixture, the rhythm of its emergence city requires of him a no less negative type of and disappearance, the forms in which it social conduct. The mental attitude of the is adequate ± these constitute, with the sim- people of the metropolis to one another may plified motives (in the narrower sense) an be designated formally as one of reserve. If inseparable totality of the form of metro- the unceasing external contact of numbers politan life. What appears here directly as of persons in the city should be met by the dissociation is in reality only one of the same number of inner reactions as in the elementary forms of socialization. small town, in which one knows almost This reserve with its overtone of con- every person he meets and to each of cealed aversion appears once more, how- whom he has a positive relationship, one ever, as the form or the wrappings of a would be completely atomized internally much more general psychic trait of the and would fall into an unthinkable mental metropolis. It assures the individual of a condition. Partly this psychological circum- type and degree of personal freedom to stance and partly the privilege of suspicion which there is no analogy in other circum- which we have in the face of the elements of stances. It has its roots in one of the great metropolitan life (which are constantly developmental tendencies of social life as a touching one another in fleeting contact) whole; in one of the few for which an ap- necessitates in us that reserve, in conse- proximately exhaustive formula can be dis- quence of which we do not know by sight covered. The most elementary stage of neighbours of years standing and which per- social organization which is to be found mits us to appear to small-town folk so historically, as well as in the present, is often as cold and uncongenial. Indeed, if I this: a relatively small circle almost entirely am not mistaken, the inner side of this ex- closed against neighbouring foreign or ternal reserve is not only indifference but otherwise antagonistic groups but which more frequently than we believe, it is a has however within itself such a narrow slight aversion, a mutual strangeness and cohesion that the individual member has repulsion which, in a close contact which only a very slight area for the development has arisen any way whatever, can break out of his own qualities and for free activity for into hatred and conflict. The entire inner which he himself is responsible. Political organization of such a type of extended and familial groups began in this way as commercial life rests on an extremely varied do political and religious communities; the structure of sympathies, indifferences and self-preservation of very young associations aversions of the briefest as well as of the requires a rigorous setting of boundaries most enduring sort. This sphere of indiffer- and a centripetal unity and for that reason ence is, for this reason, not as great as it it cannot give room to freedom and the seems superficially. Our minds respond, peculiarities of inner and external develop- with some definite feeling, to almost every ment of the individual. From this stage impression emanating from another social evolution proceeds simultaneously person. The unconsciousness, the transi- in two divergent but none the less corres- toriness and the shift of these feelings seem ponding directions. In the measure that the to raise them only into indifference. Actu- group grows numerically, spatially, and in ally this latter would be unnatural to us as the meaningful content of life, its immedi- immersion into a chaos of unwished-for ate inner unity and the definiteness of its 16 GEORG SIMMEL original demarcation against others are people of incomparably individualized per- weakened and rendered mild by reciprocal sonalities were in constant struggle against interactions and interconnections. And the incessant inner and external oppression at the same time the individual gains a free- of a de-individualizing small town. This dom of movement far beyond the first created an atmosphere of tension in which jealous delimitation, and gains also a pecu- the weaker were held down and the stronger liarity and individuality to which the div- were impelled to the most passionate type of ision of labour in groups, which have self-protection. And with this there blos- become larger, gives both occasion and ne- somed in Athens, what, without being able cessity. However much the particular con- to define it exactly, must be designated as ditions and forces of the individual situation `the general human character' in the intel- might modify the general scheme, the state lectual development of our species. For the and Christianity, guilds and political parties correlation, the factual as well as the histor- and innumerable other groups have de- ical validity of which we are here maintain- veloped in accord with this formula. This ing, is that the broadest and the most tendency seems to me, however, to be quite general contents and forms of life are intim- clearly recognizable also in the develop- ately bound up with the most individual ment of individuality within the framework ones. Both have a common prehistory and of city life. Small town life in antiquity as also common enemies in the narrow forma- well as in the Middle Ages imposed such tions and groupings, whose striving for self- limits upon the movements of the individual preservation set them in conflict with the in his relationships with the outside world broad and general on the outside, as well and on his inner independence and differen- as the freely mobile and individual on the tiation that the modern person could not inside. Just as in feudal times the `free' man even breathe under such conditions. Even was he who stood under the law of the land, today the city dweller who is placed in a that is, under the law of the largest social small town feels a type of narrowness unit, but he was unfree who derived his legal which is very similar. The smaller the circle rights only from the narrow circle of a which forms our environment and the more feudal community ± so today in an intellec- limited the relationships which have the tualized and refined sense the citizen of the possibility of transcending the boundaries, metropolis is `free' in contrast with the trivi- the more anxiously the narrow community alities and prejudices which bind the small watches over the deeds, the conduct of life town person. The mutual reserve and indif- and the attitudes of the individual and the ference, and the intellectual conditions of more will a quantitative and qualitative in- life in large social units are never more dividuality tend to pass beyond the bound- sharply appreciated in their significance aries of such a community. for the independence of the individual than The ancient polis seems in this regard to in the dense crowds of the metropolis, be- have had a character of a small town. The cause the bodily closeness and lack of space incessant threat against its existence by en- make intellectual distance really perceiv- emies from near and far brought about that able for the first time. It is obviously only stern cohesion in political and military the obverse of this freedom that, under cer- matters, that supervision of the citizen by tain circumstances, one never feels as lonely other citizens, and that jealousy of the and as deserted as in this metropolitan crush whole toward the individual whose own of persons. For here, as elsewhere, it is by no private life was repressed to such an extent means necessary that the freedom of man that he could compensate himself only by reflect itself in his emotional life only as a acting as a despot in his own household. pleasant experience. The tremendous agitation and excitement, It is not only the immediate size of the and the unique colourfulness of Athenian area and population which, on the basis of life is perhaps explained by the fact that a world-historical correlation between the THE METROPOLIS AND MENTAL LIFE 17 increase in the size of the social unit and the him temporally and spatially. In the same degree of personal inner and outer free- way the city exists only in the totality of dom, makes the metropolis the locus of the effects which transcend their immediate this condition. It is rather in transcending sphere. These really are the actual extent this purely tangible extensiveness that the in which their existence is expressed. This metropolis also becomes the seat of cosmo- is already expressed in the fact that individ- politanism. Comparable with the form of ual freedom, which is the logical historical the development of wealth ± (beyond a cer- complement of such extension, is not only tain point property increases in ever more to be understood in the negative sense rapid progression as out of its own inner as mere freedom of movement and emanci- being) ± the individual's horizon is en- pation from prejudices and philistinism. larged. In the same way, economic, per- Its essential characteristic is rather to be sonal and intellectual relations in the city found in the fact that the particularity and (which are its ideal reflection) grow in a incomparability which ultimately every geometrical progression as soon as, for the person possesses in some way is actually first time, a certain limit has been passed. expressed, giving form to life. That we Every dynamic extension becomes a prep- follow the laws of our inner nature ± and aration not only for a similar extension but this is what freedom is ± becomes percep- rather for a larger one, and from every tible and convincing to us and to others thread which is spun out of it there con- only when the expressions of this nature tinue, growing as out of themselves, an distinguish themselves from others; it is endless number of others. This may be il- our irreplaceability by others which shows lustrated by the fact that within the city that our mode of existence is not imposed the `unearned increment' of ground rent, upon us from the outside. through a mere increase in traffic, brings to Cities are above all the seat of the most the owner profits which are self-generating. advanced economic division of labour. At this point the quantitative aspects of life They produce such extreme phenomena are transformed qualitatively. The sphere as the lucrative vocation of the quatorziemeÁ of life of the small town is, in the main, in Paris. These are persons who may be enclosed within itself. For the metropolis recognized by shields on their houses and it is decisive that its inner life is extended who hold themselves ready at the dinner in a wave-like motion over a broader na- hour in appropriate costumes so they can tional or international area. Weimar was be called upon on short notice in case thir- no exception because its significance was teen persons find themselves at the table. dependent upon individual personalities Exactly in the measure of its extension, and died with them, whereas the metropo- the city offers to an increasing degree the lis is characterized by its essential inde- determining conditions for the division of pendence even of the most significant labour. It is a unit which, because of its individual personalities; this is rather its large size, is receptive to a highly diversified antithesis and it is the price of independ- plurality of achievements while at the ence which the individual living in it enjoys. same time the agglomeration of individuals The most significant aspect of the metropo- and their struggle for the customer forces lis lies in this functional magnitude beyond the individual to a type of specialized ac- its actual physical boundaries and this ef- complishment in which he cannot be so fectiveness reacts upon the latter and gives easily exterminated by the other. The de- to it life, weight, importance and responsi- cisive fact here is that in the life of a city, bility. A person does not end with the limits struggle with nature for the means of life of his physical body or with the area to is transformed into a conflict with human which his physical activity is immediately beings, and the gain which is fought for confined but embraces, rather, the totality is granted, not by nature, but by man. of meaningful effects which emanates from For here we find not only the previously 18 GEORG SIMMEL mentioned source of specialization but This appears to me to be the most pro- rather the deeper one in which the seller found cause of the fact that the metropolis must seek to produce in the person to places emphasis on striving for the most whom he wishes to sell ever new and individual forms of personal existence ± re- unique needs. The necessity to specialize gardless of whether it is always correct or one's product in order to find a source of always successful. The development of income which is not yet exhausted and also modern culture is characterized by the pre- to specialize a function which cannot be dominance of what one can call the object- easily supplanted is conducive to differenti- ive spirit over the subjective; that is, in ation, refinement and enrichment of the language as well as in law, in the technique needs of the public which obviously must of production as well as in art, in science as lead to increasing personal variation within well as in the objects of domestic environ- this public. ment, there is embodied a sort of spirit All this leads to the narrower type of (Geist), the daily growth of which is intellectual individuation of mental qual- followed only imperfectly and with an ities to which the city gives rise in propor- even greater lag by the intellectual develop- tion to its size. There is a whole series of ment of the individual. If we survey, for causes for this. First of all there is the diffi- instance, the vast culture which during the culty of giving one's own personality a cer- last century has been embodied in things tain status within the framework of and in knowledge, in institutions and in metropolitan life. Where quantitative in- comforts, and if we compare them with crease of value and energy has reached its the cultural progress of the individual limits, one seizes on qualitative distinc- during the same period ± at least in the tions, so that, through taking advantage upper classes ± we would see a frightful of the existing sensitivity to differences, difference in rate of growth between the the attention of the social world can, in two which represents, in many points, some way, be won for oneself. This leads rather a regression of the culture of the indi- ultimately to the strangest eccentricities, vidual with reference to spirituality, deli- to specifically metropolitan extravagances cacy and idealism. This discrepancy is in of self-distantiation, of caprice, of fastidi- essence the result of the success of the grow- ousness, the meaning of which is no longer ing division of labour. For it is this which to be found in the content of such activity requires from the individual an ever more itself but rather in its being a form of `being one-sided type of achievement which, at its different' ± of making oneself noticeable. highest point, often permits his personality For many types of persons these are still as a whole to fall into neglect. In any case the only means of saving for oneself, this over-growth of objective culture has through the attention gained from others, been less and less satisfactory for the indi- some sort of self-esteem and the sense vidual. Perhaps less conscious than in prac- of filling a position. In the same sense tical activity and in the obscure complex of there operates an apparently insignificant feelings which flow from him, he is reduced factor which in its effects however is per- to a negligible quantity. He becomes a single ceptibly cumulative, namely, the brevity cog as over against the vast overwhelming and rarity of meetings which are allotted organization of things and forces which to each individual as compared with social gradually take out of his hands everything intercourse in a small city. For here we find connected with progress, spirituality and the attempt to appear to-the-point, clear- value. The operation of these forces results cut and individual with extra-ordinarily in the transformation of the latter from a greater frequency than where frequent and subjective form into one of purely objective long association assures to each person an existence. It need only be pointed out that unambiguous conception of the other's per- the metropolis is the proper arena for this sonality. type of culture which has outgrown every THE METROPOLIS AND MENTAL LIFE 19 personal element. Here in buildings and in unnatural form and for a long time an unjust educational institutions, in the wonders and inequality. In this situation arose the cry for comforts of space-conquering technique, in freedom and equality ± the belief in the full the formations of social life and in the con- freedom of movement of the individual in crete institutions of the State is to be found all his social and intellectual relationships such a tremendous richness of crystalizing, which would then permit the same noble de-personalized cultural accomplishments essence to emerge equally from all individ- that the personality can, so to speak, uals as Nature had placed it in them and as it scarcely maintain itself in the fact of it. had been distorted by social life and histor- From one angle life is made infinitely more ical development. Alongside of this liberal- easy in the sense that stimulations, interests, istic ideal there grew up in the nineteenth and the taking up of time and attention, century from Goethe and the Romantics, on present themselves from all sides and carry the one hand, and from the economic div- it in a stream which scarcely requires any ision of labour, on the other, the further individual efforts for its ongoing. But from tendency, namely, that individuals who another angle, life is composed more and had been liberated from their historical more of these impersonal cultural elements bonds sought now to distinguish themselves and existing goods and values which seek to from one another. No longer was it the `gen- suppress peculiar personal interests and eral human quality' in every individual but incomparabilities. As a result, in order that rather his qualitative uniqueness and irre- this most personal element be saved, ex- placeability that now became the criteria of tremities and peculiarities and individual- his value. In the conflict and shifting inter- izations must be produced and they must pretations of these two ways of defining the be over-exaggerated merely to be brought position of the individual within the totality into the awareness even of the individual is to be found the external as well as the himself. The atrophy of individual culture internal history of our time. It is the function through the hypertrophy of objective cul- of the metropolis to make a place for the ture lies at the root of the bitter hatred conflict and for the attempts at unification which the preachers of the most extreme of both of these in the sense that its own individualism, in the footsteps of Nietzsche, peculiar conditions have been revealed to directed against the metropolis. But it is also us as the occasion and the stimulus for the the explanation of why indeed they are so development of both. Thereby they attain a passionately loved in the metropolis and quite unique place, fruitful with an inex- indeed appear to its residents as the saviours haustible richness of meaning in the devel- of their unsatisfied yearnings. opment of the mental life. They reveal When both of these forms of individual- themselves as one of those great historical ism which are nourished by the quantitative structures in which conflicting life- relationships of the metropolis, i.e. individ- embracing currents find themselves with ual independence and the elaboration of equal legitimacy. Because of this, however, personal peculiarities, are examined with regardless of whether we are sympathetic or reference to their historical position, the antipathetic with their individual expres- metropolis attains an entirely new value sions, they transcend the sphere in which a and meaning in the world history of the judge-like attitude on our part is appropri- spirit. The eighteenth century found the in- ate. To the extent that such forces have been dividual in the grip of powerful bonds integrated, with the fleeting existence of a which had become meaningless ± bonds of single cell, into the root as well as the crown a political, agrarian, guild and religious of the totality of historical life to which we nature ± delimitations which imposed belong ± it is our task not to complain or to upon the human being at the same time an condone but only to understand.
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