Essays on Religion


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Georg Simmel; Edited and translated by Horst Jürgen Helle in collaboration with Ludwig Nieder; Foreword by Phillip E. Hammond

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The noted German sociologist and philosopher Georg Simmel wrote a number of essays that deal directly with religion as a fundamental process in human life. These essays set forth Simmel's mature reflections on religion and its relation to modernity, personality, art, sociology, psychology, philosophy, and science. They also include his views on methods in the study of religion and his thoughts on achieving a broader perspective on religion. Originally published between 1898 and 1918, the last twenty years of Simmel's life, the essays are collected here in English for the first time.

The essays provide an excellent picture of the development of the characteristic doctrines of Simmel's thought as applied to religion, based on phenomenological analysis of human experience that emphasizes the subjective dimensions of life. The collection shows that Simmel was interested less in the forms that religions take than in what he calls a "particular spiritual quality" or "attitude of the soul"--a feeling of religiousness that precedes the forms of religion and may later be projected onto them. Viewing religion as primarily a quality of social relationships that can be analyzed in various contexts, Simmel makes a unique contribution to the sociological analysis of religion, as well as offering valuable insights for scientific consideration.

Published by arrangement with the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion

Horst Jürgen Helle is professor of sociology and co-director of the Institute for Sociology at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich and is the author or editor of more than ten previous books. Ludwig Nieder is assistant professor of sociology at Ludwig Maximilian University.

"In this fine edition Simmel proves himself a seminal thinker in both philosophy and sociology. The essays have a freshness and originality that belie their vintage, and the translation is a remarkable achievement."—Guy Oakes

"Not only sociologists of religion, but all students of religion will benefit from the publication of this book."—Phillip E. Hammond

"This is a well thought out, carefully edited book covering significant areas addressed by a thinker of some standing. That Simmel is of historic importance is not to be doubted."—David Large, Philosophy in Review

"With the publication of this volume, English-speaking sociologists will now need to add Georg Simmel to their short list of seminal sociological theorists of religion. Horst Jurgen Helle, in collaboration with the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion, has made a major contribution to Anglophone sociology by carefully translating everything Simmel wrote about religion and arranging the pieces in a single thematically coherent volume."—Contemporary Sociology

"The essays are diverse, . . . and provide an excellent window into Simmel's sociology and philosophy of religion."—Albert E. Gunn, Review of Metaphysics

ISBN: 9780300205077
Publication Date: October 8, 2013
Publishing Partner: Published by arrangement with the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion
244 pages, 5 1/2 x 8 1/4