You are on page 1of 24

The Metropolis and

Mental Life
by Georg Simmel
adapted by D. Weinstein from Kurt Wolf (Trans.) The Sociology
of Georg Simmel. New York: Free ress! "#$%! pp.&%#'&(&
T)e deepest problems of modern life deri*e from
t)e +laim of t)e indi*idual to preser*e t)e
autonomy and indi*iduality of )is e,isten+e in t)e
fa+e of o*erw)elmin- so+ial for+es! of )istori+al
)erita-e! of e,ternal +ulture! and of t)e te+)ni.ue
of life. T)e /-)t wit) nature w)i+) primiti*e man
)as to wa-e for )is bodily e,isten+e attains in t)is
modern form its latest transformation. T)e
ei-)teent) +entury +alled upon man to free )imself
of all t)e )istori+al bonds in t)e state and in
reli-ion! in morals and in e+onomi+s. 0an1s nature!
ori-inally -ood and +ommon to all! s)ould de*elop
un)ampered. 2n addition to more liberty! t)e
nineteent) +entury demanded t)e fun+tional
spe+iali3ation {1} of man and )is work4 t)is
spe+iali3ation makes one indi*idual in+omparable
to anot)er! and ea+) of t)em indispensable to t)e
)i-)est possible e,tent. 5owe*er! t)is
spe+iali3ation makes ea+) man t)e more dire+tly
dependent upon t)e supplementary a+ti*ities of all
ot)ers. Niet3s+)e sees t)e full de*elopment of t)e
indi*idual +onditioned by t)e most rut)less
stru--le of indi*iduals4 so+ialism belie*es in t)e
suppression of all +ompetition for t)e same reason.
6e t)at as it may! in all t)ese positions t)e same
basi+ moti*e is at work: t)e person resists to bein-
le*eled down and worn out by a so+ial'
te+)nolo-i+al me+)anism. 7n in.uiry into t)e inner
meanin- of spe+i/+ally modern life and its
produ+ts! into t)e soul {2} of t)e +ultural body! so
to speak! must seek to sol*e t)e e.uation w)i+)
structures like the metropolis set up between
the individual and the super-individual
contents of life {3}. 8u+) an in.uiry must
answer t)e .uestion of )ow t)e personality
a++ommodates itself in t)e ad9ustments to e,ternal
for+es. T)is will be my task today.
T)e psy+)olo-i+al basis of t)e metropolitan type of
indi*iduality +onsists in t)e intensifcation of
nervous stimulation w)i+) results from t)e swift
and uninterrupted +)an-e of outer and inner
stimuli. Man is a diferentiating creature. 5is
mind is stimulated by t)e diferen+e between a
momentary impression and t)e one w)i+)
pre+eded it. :astin- impressions! {4} impressions
w)i+) difer only sli-)tly from one anot)er!
impressions w)i+) take a re-ular and )abitual
+ourse and s)ow re-ular and )abitual +ontrasts'all
t)ese use up! so to speak! less +ons+iousness t)an
does t)e rapid +rowdin- of +)an-in- ima-es! t)e
s)arp dis+ontinuity in t)e -rasp of a sin-le -lan+e!
and t)e une,pe+tedness of onrus)in- impressions.
T)ese are t)e psy+)olo-i+al +onditions w)i+) t)e
metropolis +reates. Wit) ea+) +rossin- of t)e
street! wit) t)e tempo and multipli+ity of
e+onomi+! o++upational and so+ial life! t)e +ity sets
up a deep +ontrast wit) small town and rural life
wit) referen+e to t)e sensory foundations of
psy+)i+ life. T)e metropolis e,a+ts from man as a
dis+riminatin- +reature a diferent amount of
+ons+iousness t)an does rural life. 5ere t)e r)yt)m
of life and sensory mental ima-ery ;ows more
slowly! more )abitually! and more e*enly. re+isely
in t)is +onne+tion t)e sop)isti+ated +)ara+ter of
metropolitan psy+)i+ life be+omes understandable
' as o*er a-ainst small town life w)i+) rests more
upon deeply felt and emotional relations)ips.
T)ese latter are rooted in t)e more un+ons+ious
layers of t)e psy+)e {5} and -row most readily in
t)e steady r)yt)m of uninterrupted )abituations.
The intellect {6}, however, has its locus in
the transparent, conscious, higher layers of
the psyche4 it is t)e most adaptable of our inner
for+es. 2n order to a++ommodate to +)an-e and to
t)e +ontrast of p)enomena! t)e intelle+t does not
re.uire any s)o+ks and inner up)ea*als4 it is only
t)rou-) su+) up)ea*als t)at t)e more
+onser*ati*e mind +ould a++ommodate to t)e
metropolitan r)yt)m of e*ents. T)us t)e
metropolitan type of man'w)i+)! of +ourse! e,ists
in a t)ousand indi*idual *ariants ' develops an
organ protecting him a-ainst t)e t)reatenin-
+urrents and dis+repan+ies of )is e,ternal
en*ironment w)i+) would uproot )im. e reacts
with his head instead of his heart. 2n t)is an
in+reased awareness assumes t)e psy+)i+
prero-ati*e. 0etropolitan life! t)us! underlies a
)ei-)tened awareness and a predominan+e of
intelli-en+e in metropolitan man. T)e rea+tion to
metropolitan p)enomena is s)ifted to t)at or-an
w)i+) is least sensiti*e and .uite remote from t)e
dept) of t)e personality. !ntellectuality is thus
seen to preserve sub"ective life against the
overwhelming power of metropolitan life, and
intelle+tuality bran+)es out in many dire+tions and
is inte-rated wit) numerous dis+rete p)enomena.
T)e metropolis )as always been t)e seat of t)e
money e+onomy. 5ere t)e multipli+ity and
+on+entration of e+onomi+ e,+)an-e -i*es an
importan+e to t)e means of e,+)an-e {7} w)i+)
t)e s+antiness of rural +ommer+e would not )a*e
allowed. Money economy and the dominance
of the intellect are intrinsically connected.
T)ey s)are a matter'of'fa+t attitude in dealin- wit)
men and wit) t)in-s4 and! in t)is attitude! a formal
9usti+e {8} is often +oupled wit) an in+onsiderate
)ardness. T)e intelle+tually sop)isti+ated person is
indiferent to all -enuine indi*iduality! be+ause
relations)ips and rea+tions result from it w)i+)
+annot be e,)austed wit) lo-i+al operations. 2n t)e
same manner! t)e indi*iduality of p)enomena is
not +ommensurate wit) t)e pe+uniary {9}
prin+iple. 0oney is +on+erned only wit) w)at is
+ommon to all: it asks for t)e e,+)an-e *alue! it
reduces all $uality and individuality to the
$uestion% ow much& 'll intimate emotional
relations between persons are founded in
their individuality, whereas in rational
relations man is reckoned with like a number,
like an element w)i+) is in itself indiferent. <nly
t)e ob9e+ti*e measurable a+)ie*ement is of
interest. T)us metropolitan man re+kons wit) )is
mer+)ants and +ustomers! )is domesti+ ser*ants
and often e*en wit) persons wit) w)om )e is
obli-ed to )a*e so+ial inter+ourse. T)ese features
of intelle+tuality +ontrast wit) t)e nature of t)e
small circle in w)i+) t)e ine*itable knowled-e of
indi*iduality as ine*itably produ+es a warmer tone
of be)a*ior! a be)a*ior w)i+) is beyond a mere
ob9e+ti*e balan+in- of ser*i+e and return. 2n t)e
sp)ere of t)e e+onomi+ psy+)olo-y of t)e small
-roup it is of importan+e t)at under primiti*e
+onditions produ+tion ser*es t)e +ustomer w)o
orders t)e -ood! so t)at t)e produ+er and t)e
+onsumer are a+.uainted. T)e modern metropolis!
)owe*er! is supplied almost entirely by produ+tion
for t)e market! t)at is! for entirely unknown
pur+)asers w)o ne*er personally enter t)e
produ+er1s a+tual /eld of *ision. T)rou-) t)is
anonymity t)e interests of ea+) party a+.uire an
unmer+iful matter'of'fa+tness4 and t)e
intelle+tually +al+ulatin- e+onomi+ e-oisms of bot)
parties need not fear any de;e+tion be+ause of t)e
imponderables of personal relations)ips. T)e
money e+onomy {1} dominates t)e metropolis4 it
)as displa+ed t)e last sur*i*als of domesti+
produ+tion and t)e dire+t barter of -oods4 it
minimi3es! from day to day! t)e amount of work
ordered by +ustomers. T)e matter'of'fa+t attitude
is ob*iously so intimately interrelated wit) t)e
money e+onomy! w)i+) is dominant in t)e
metropolis! t)at nobody +an say w)et)er t)e
intelle+tualisti+ mentality /rst promoted t)e money
e+onomy or w)et)er t)e latter determined t)e
former. T)e metropolitan way of life is +ertainly t)e
most fertile soil for t)is re+ipro+ity! a point w)i+) 2
s)all do+ument merely by +itin- t)e di+tum of t)e
most eminent =n-lis) +onstitutional )istorian:
t)rou-)out t)e w)ole +ourse of =n-lis) )istory!
:ondon )as ne*er a+ted as =n-land1s )eart but
often as =n-land1s intelle+t and always as )er
2n +ertain seemin-ly insi-ni/+ant traits! w)i+) lie
upon t)e surfa+e of life! t)e same psy+)i+ +urrents
+)ara+teristi+ally unite. Modern mind has
become more and more calculating. T)e
+al+ulati*e e,a+tness of pra+ti+al life w)i+) t)e
money e+onomy )as brou-)t about +orresponds to
t)e ideal of natural s+ien+e: to transform t)e world
into an arit)meti+ problem! to /, e*ery part of t)e
world by mat)emati+al formulas. <nly money
e+onomy )as /lled t)e days of so many people
wit) wei-)in-! +al+ulatin-! wit) numeri+al
determinations! wit) a redu+tion of .ualitati*e
{11} *alues to .uantitati*e {12} ones. T)rou-)
t)e +al+ulati*e nature of money a new pre+ision! a
+ertainty in t)e de/nition of identities and
diferen+es! an unambi-uousness in a-reements
and arran-ements )as been brou-)t about in t)e
relations of life'elements ' 9ust as e,ternally t)is
pre+ision )as been efe+ted by t)e uni*ersal
difusion of po+ket wat+)es. 5owe*er! t)e
+onditions of metropolitan life are at on+e +ause
and efe+t of t)is trait. T)e relations)ips and afairs
of t)e typi+al metropolitan usually are so *aried
and +omple, t)at wit)out t)e stri+test pun+tuality
in promises and ser*i+es t)e w)ole stru+ture would
break down into an ine,tri+able +)aos. 7bo*e all!
t)is ne+essity is brou-)t about by t)e a--re-ation
of so many people wit) su+) diferentiated
interests! w)o must inte-rate t)eir relations and
a+ti*ities into a )i-)ly +omple, or-anism. 2f all
+lo+ks and wat+)es in 6erlin would suddenly -o
wron- in diferent ways! e*en if only by one )our!
all e+onomi+ life and +ommuni+ation of t)e +ity
would be disrupted for a lon- time. 2n addition an
apparently mere e,ternal fa+tor: lon- distan+es!
would make all waitin- and broken appointments
result in an ill'aforded waste of time. T)us! t)e
te+)ni.ue of metropolitan life is unima-inable
wit)out t)e most pun+tual inte-ration of all
a+ti*ities and mutual relations into a stable and
impersonal time s+)edule. 5ere a-ain t)e -eneral
+on+lusions of t)is entire task of re;e+tion be+ome
ob*ious namely! t)at from ea+) point on t)e
surfa+e of e,isten+e ' )owe*er +losely atta+)ed to
t)e surfa+e alone ' one may drop a soundin- into
t)e dept) of t)e psy+)e so t)at all t)e most banal
e,ternalities of life /nally are +onne+ted wit) t)e
ultimate de+isions +on+ernin- t)e meanin- and
style of life. )unctuality, calculability,
e*actness are forced upon life by the
comple*ity and e*tension of metropolitan
e*istence and are not only most intimately
connected with its money economy and
intellectualist character. These traits must
also color the contents of life and favor the
e*clusion of those irrational, instinctive,
sovereign traits and impulses which aim at
determining the mode of life from within,
instead of receiving the general and
precisely schemati+ed form of life from
without. =*en t)ou-) so*erei-n types of
personality {1!}! +)ara+teri3ed by irrational
impulses! are by no means impossible in t)e +ity!
t)ey are ne*ert)eless! opposed to typi+al +ity life.
T)e passionate )atred of men like ?uskin and
Niet3s+)e for t)e metropolis is understandable in
t)ese terms. T)eir natures dis+o*ered t)e *alue of
life alone in t)e uns+)emati3ed e,isten+e w)i+)
+annot be de/ned wit) pre+ision for all alike. From
t)e same sour+e of t)is )atred of t)e metropolis
sur-ed t)eir )atred of money e+onomy and of t)e
intelle+tualism of modern e,isten+e.
T)e same fa+tors w)i+) )a*e t)us +oales+ed into
t)e e,a+tness and minute pre+ision of t)e form of
life )a*e +oales+ed into a stru+ture of t)e )i-)est
impersonality4 on the other hand, they have
promoted a highly personal sub"ectivity.
T)ere is per)aps no psy+)i+ p)enomenon w)i+)
)as been so un+onditionally reser*ed to t)e
metropolis as )as t)e blas@ {14} attitude. T)e
blas@ attitude results /rst from t)e rapidly
+)an-in- and +losely +ompressed +ontrastin-
stimulations of t)e ner*es. From t)is! t)e
en)an+ement of metropolitan intelle+tuality! also!
seems ori-inally to stem. T)erefore! stupid people
w)o are not intelle+tually ali*e in t)e /rst pla+e
usually are not e,a+tly blas@. 7 life in boundless
pursuit of pleasure makes one blas@ be+ause it
a-itates t)e ner*es to t)eir stron-est rea+ti*ity for
su+) a lon- time t)at t)ey /nally +ease to rea+t at
all. 2n t)e same way! t)rou-) t)e rapidity and
+ontradi+toriness of t)eir +)an-es! more )armless
impressions for+e su+) *iolent responses! tearin-
t)e ner*es so brutally )it)er and t)it)er t)at t)eir
last reser*es of stren-t) are spent4 and if one
remains in t)e same milieu t)ey )a*e no time to
-at)er new stren-t). 'n incapacity thus
emerges to react to new sensations with the
appropriate energy. This constitutes that
blas- attitude w)i+)! in fa+t! e*ery metropolitan
+)ild s)ows w)en +ompared wit) +)ildren of
.uieter and less +)an-eable milieus.
T)is p)ysiolo-i+al sour+e of t)e metropolitan blas@
attitude is 9oined by anot)er sour+e w)i+) ;ows
from t)e money e+onomy. T)e essen+e of t)e blas@
attitude +onsists in t)e bluntin- of dis+rimination.
T)is does not mean t)at t)e ob9e+ts are not
per+ei*ed! as is t)e +ase wit) t)e )alf'wit! but
rat)er t)at t)e meanin- and diferin- *alues of
t)in-s! and t)ereby t)e t)in-s t)emsel*es! are
e,perien+ed as insubstantial. T)ey appear to t)e
blas@ person in an e*enly ;at and -ray tone4 no
one ob9e+t deser*es preferen+e o*er any ot)er.
T)is mood is t)e fait)ful sub9e+ti*e re;e+tion of t)e
+ompletely internali3ed money e+onomy. 6y bein-
t)e e.ui*alent to all t)e manifold t)in-s in one and
t)e same way! money be+omes t)e most fri-)tful
le*eler. /or money e*presses all $ualitative
diferences of things in terms of 0how much&0
Money, with all its colorlessness and
indiference, becomes the common
denominator of all values1 irreparably it
hollows out the core of things, their
individuality, their speci2c value, and their
incomparability. 7ll t)in-s ;oat wit) e.ual
spe+i/+ -ra*ity in t)e +onstantly mo*in- stream of
money. 7ll t)in-s lie on t)e same le*el and difer
from one anot)er only in t)e si3e of t)e area w)i+)
t)ey +o*er. 2n t)e indi*idual +ase t)is +oloration! or
rat)er dis+oloration! of t)in-s t)rou-) t)eir money
e.ui*alen+e may be unnoti+eably minute.
5owe*er! t)rou-) t)e relations of t)e ri+) to t)e
ob9e+ts to be )ad for money! per)aps e*en t)rou-)
t)e total +)ara+ter w)i+) t)e mentality of t)e
+ontemporary publi+ e*eryw)ere imparts to t)ese
ob9e+ts! t)e e,+lusi*ely pe+uniary e*aluation of
ob9e+ts )as be+ome .uite +onsiderable. T)e lar-e
+ities! t)e main seats of t)e money e,+)an-e!
brin- t)e pur+)asability of t)in-s to t)e fore mu+)
more impressi*ely t)an do smaller lo+alities. T)at
is w)y +ities are also t)e -enuine lo+ale of t)e
blas@ attitude. 2n t)e blas@ attitude t)e
+on+entration of men and t)in-s stimulate t)e
ner*ous system of t)e indi*idual to its )i-)est
a+)ie*ement so t)at it attains its peak. T)rou-)
t)e mere .uantitati*e intensi/+ation of t)e same
+onditionin- fa+tors t)is a+)ie*ement is
transformed into its opposite and appears in t)e
pe+uliar ad9ustment of t)e blas@ attitude. 2n t)is
p)enomenon t)e ner*es /nd in t)e refusal to rea+t
to t)eir stimulation t)e last possibility of
a++ommodatin- to t)e +ontents and forms of
metropolitan life. T)e self'preser*ation of +ertain
personalities is brou-)t at t)e pri+e of de*aluatin-
t)e w)ole ob9e+ti*e world! a de*aluation w)i+) in
t)e end una*oidably dra-s one1s own personality
down into a feelin- of t)e same wort)lessness.
W)ereas t)e sub9e+t of t)is form of e,isten+e )as
to +ome to terms wit) it entirely for )imself! )is
self'preser*ation in t)e fa+e of t)e lar-e +ity
demands from )im a no less ne-ati*e be)a*ior of a
so+ial nature. This mental attitude of
metropolitans toward one another we may
designate, from a formal point of view, as
reserve {15}. 2f so many inner rea+tions were
responses to t)e +ontinuous e,ternal +onta+ts wit)
innumerable people as are t)ose in t)e small town!
w)ere one knows almost e*erybody one meets and
w)ere one )as a positi*e relation to almost
e*eryone! one would be +ompletely atomi3ed
internally and +ome to an unima-inable psy+)i+
state. artly t)is psy+)olo-i+al fa+t! partly t)e ri-)t
to distrust w)i+) men )a*e in t)e fa+e of t)e
tou+)'and'-o elements of metropolitan life!
ne+essitates our reser*e. 7s a result of t)is reser*e
we fre.uently do not e*en know by si-)t t)ose w)o
)a*e been our nei-)bors for years. 7nd it is t)is
reser*e w)i+) in t)e eyes of t)e small'town people
makes us appear to be +old and )eartless. 2ndeed!
if 2 do not de+ei*e myself! t)e inner aspe+t of t)is
outer reser*e is not only indiferen+e but! more
often t)an we are aware! it is a sli-)t a*ersion! a
mutual stran-eness and repulsion! w)i+) will break
into )atred and /-)t at t)e moment of a +loser
+onta+t! )owe*er +aused. T)e w)ole inner
or-ani3ation of su+) an e,tensi*e +ommuni+ati*e
life rests upon an e,tremely *aried )ierar+)y of
sympat)ies! indiferen+es! and a*ersions of t)e
briefest as well as of t)e most permanent nature.
T)e sp)ere of indiferen+e in t)is )ierar+)y is not
as lar-e as mi-)t appear on t)e surfa+e. <ur
psy+)i+ a+ti*ity still responds to almost e*ery
impression of somebody else wit) a somew)at
distin+t feelin-. T)e un+ons+ious! ;uid and
+)an-in- +)ara+ter of t)is impression seems to
result in a state of indiferen+e. 7+tually t)is
indiferen+e would be 9ust as unnatural as t)e
difusion of indis+riminate mutual su--estion would
be unbearable. /rom both these typical
dangers of the metropolis, indiference and
indiscriminate suggestibility, antipathy
protects us. 7 latent antipat)y and t)e
preparatory sta-e of pra+ti+al anta-onism efe+t
t)e distan+es and a*ersions wit)out w)i+) t)is
mode of life +ould not at all be led. T)e e,tent and
t)e mi,ture of t)is style of life! t)e r)yt)m of its
emer-en+e and disappearan+e! t)e forms in w)i+)
it is satis/ed' all t)ese! wit) t)e unifyin- moti*es in
t)e narrower sense! form t)e inseparable w)ole of
t)e metropolitan style of life. W)at appears in t)e
metropolitan style of life dire+tly as disso+iation is
in reality only one of its elemental forms of
T)is reser*e wit) its o*ertone of )idden a*ersion
appears in turn as t)e form or t)e +loak of a more
-eneral mental p)enomenon of t)e metropolis: it
-rants to t)e indi*idual a kind and an amount of
personal freedom w)i+) )as no analo-y
w)atsoe*er under ot)er +onditions. T)e metropolis
-oes ba+k to one of t)e lar-e de*elopmental
tenden+ies of so+ial life as su+)! to one of t)e few
tenden+ies for w)i+) an appro,imately uni*ersal
formula +an be dis+o*ered. T)e earliest p)ase of
so+ial formations found in )istori+al as well as in
+ontemporary so+ial stru+tures is t)is: a relati*ely
small +ir+le /rmly +losed a-ainst nei-)borin-!
stran-e! or in some way anta-onisti+ +ir+les.
5owe*er! t)is +ir+le is +losely +o)erent and allows
its indi*idual members only a narrow /eld for t)e
de*elopment of uni.ue .ualities and free! self'
responsible mo*ements. oliti+al and kins)ip
-roups! parties and reli-ious asso+iations be-in in
t)is way. T)e self'preser*ation of *ery youn-
asso+iations re.uires t)e establis)ment of stri+t
boundaries and a +entripetal unity. T)erefore t)ey
+annot allow t)e indi*idual freedom and uni.ue
inner and outer de*elopment. From t)is sta-e
so+ial de*elopment pro+eeds at on+e in two
diferent! yet +orrespondin-! dire+tions. To t)e
e,tent to w)i+) t)e -roup -rows ' numeri+ally!
spatially! in si-ni/+an+e and in +ontent of life ' to
t)e same de-ree t)e -roup1s dire+t! inner unity
loosens! and t)e ri-idity of t)e ori-inal
demar+ation a-ainst ot)ers is softened t)rou-)
mutual relations and +onne+tions. 7t t)e same
time! t)e indi*idual -ains freedom of mo*ement!
far beyond t)e /rst 9ealous delimitation. T)e
indi*idual also -ains a spe+i/+ indi*iduality to
w)i+) t)e di*ision of labor in t)e enlar-ed -roup
-i*es bot) o++asion and ne+essity. T)e state and
A)ristianity! -uilds and politi+al parties! and
innumerable ot)er -roups )a*e de*eloped
a++ordin- to t)is formula! )owe*er mu+)! of
+ourse! t)e spe+ial +onditions and for+es of t)e
respe+ti*e -roups )a*e modi/ed t)e -eneral
s+)eme. T)is s+)eme seems to me distin+tly
re+o-ni3able also in t)e e*olution of indi*iduality
wit)in urban life. T)e small'town life in 7nti.uity
and in t)e 0iddle 7-es set barriers a-ainst
mo*ement and relations of t)e indi*idual toward
t)e outside! and it set up barriers a-ainst indi*idual
independen+e and diferentiation wit)in t)e
indi*idual self. T)ese barriers were su+) t)at under
t)em modern man +ould not )a*e breat)ed. =*en
today a metropolitan man w)o is pla+ed in a small
town feels a restri+tion similar! at least! in kind.
T)e smaller t)e +ir+le w)i+) forms our milieu is!
and t)e more restri+ted t)ose relations to ot)ers
are w)i+) dissol*e t)e boundaries of t)e indi*idual!
t)e more an,iously t)e +ir+le -uards t)e
a+)ie*ements! t)e +ondu+t of life! and t)e outlook
of t)e indi*idual! and t)e more readily a
.uantitati*e and .ualitati*e spe+iali3ation would
break up t)e framework of t)e w)ole little +ir+le.
T)e an+ient "olis {1#} in t)is respe+t seems to
)a*e )ad t)e *ery +)ara+ter of a small town. T)e
+onstant t)reat to its e,isten+e at t)e )ands of
enemies from near and afar efe+ted stri+t
+o)eren+e in politi+al and military respe+ts! a
super*ision of t)e +iti3en by t)e +iti3en! a 9ealousy
of t)e w)ole a-ainst t)e indi*idual w)ose
parti+ular life was suppressed to su+) a de-ree
t)at )e +ould +ompensate only by a+tin- as a
despot in )is own )ouse)old. T)e tremendous
a-itation and e,+itement! t)e uni.ue +olorfulness
of 7t)enian life! +an per)aps be understood in
terms of t)e fa+t t)at a people of in+omparably
indi*iduali3ed personalities stru--led a-ainst t)e
+onstant inner and outer pressure of a
deindi*iduali3in- small town. T)is produ+ed a tense
atmosp)ere in w)i+) t)e weaker indi*iduals were
suppressed and t)ose of stron-er natures were
in+ited to pro*e t)emsel*es in t)e most passionate
manner. T)is is pre+isely w)y it was t)at t)ere
blossomed in 7t)ens w)at must be +alled! wit)out
de/nin- it e,a+tly! Bt)e -eneral )uman +)ara+terB
in t)e intelle+tual de*elopment of our spe+ies. For
we maintain fa+tual as well as )istori+al *alidity for
t)e followin- +onne+tion: t)e most e,tensi*e and
t)e most -eneral +ontents and forms of life are
most intimately +onne+ted wit) t)e most indi*idual
ones. T)ey )a*e a preparatory sta-e in +ommon!
t)at is! t)ey /nd t)eir enemy in narrow formations
and -roupin-s t)e maintenan+e of w)i+) pla+es
bot) of t)em into a state of defense a-ainst
e,panse and -enerality lyin- wit)out and t)e freely
mo*in- indi*iduality wit)in. Cust as in t)e feudal
a-e! t)e BfreeB man was t)e one w)o stood under
t)e law of t)e land! t)at is! under t)e law of t)e
lar-est so+ial orbit! and t)e unfree man was t)e
one w)o deri*ed )is ri-)t merely from t)e narrow
+ir+le of a feudal asso+iation and was e,+luded
from t)e lar-er so+ial orbit ' so today metropolitan
man is BfreeB in a spirituali3ed and re/ned sense! in
+ontrast to t)e pettiness and pre9udi+es w)i+) )em
in t)e small'town man. For t)e re+ipro+al reser*e
and indiferen+e and t)e intelle+tual life +onditions
of lar-e +ir+les are ne*er felt more stron-ly by t)e
indi*idual in t)eir impa+t upon )is independen+e
t)an in t)e t)i+kest +rowd of t)e bi- +ity. T)is is
be+ause t)e bodily pro,imity and narrowness of
spa+e makes t)e mental distan+e only t)e more
*isible. 2t is ob*iously only t)e ob*erse {17}of t)is
freedom if! under +ertain +ir+umstan+es! one
now)ere feels as lonely and lost as in t)e
metropolitan +rowd. /or here as elsewhere it is
by no means necessary that the freedom of
man be re6ected in his emotional life as
2t is not only t)e immediate si3e of t)e area and
t)e number of persons w)i+)! be+ause of t)e
uni*ersal )istori+al +orrelation between t)e
enlar-ement of t)e +ir+le and t)e personal inner
and outer freedom! )as made the metropolis the
locale of freedom. 2t is rat)er in trans+endin-
t)is *isible e,panse t)at any -i*en +ity be+omes
t)e seat of cosmopolitanism.{18} T)e )ori3on
of t)e +ity e,pands in a manner +omparable to t)e
way in w)i+) wealt) de*elops4 a +ertain amount of
property in+reases in a .uasi'automati+al way in
e*er more rapid pro-ression. 7s soon as a +ertain
limit )as been passed! t)e e+onomi+! personal! and
intelle+tual relations of t)e +iti3enry! t)e sp)ere of
intelle+tual predominan+e of t)e +ity o*er its
)interland! -row as in -eometri+al pro-ression.
=*ery -ain in dynami+ e,tension be+omes a step!
not for an e.ual! but for a new and lar-er
e,tension. From e*ery t)read spinnin- out of t)e
+ity! e*er new t)reads -row as if by t)emsel*es!
9ust as wit)in t)e +ity t)e unearned in+rement of
-round rent! t)rou-) t)e mere in+rease in
+ommuni+ation! brin-s t)e owner automati+ally
in+reasin- pro/ts. 7t t)is point! t)e .uantitati*e
aspe+t of life is transformed dire+tly into .ualitati*e
traits of +)ara+ter. T)e sp)ere of life of t)e small
town is! in t)e main! self'+ontained and autar+)i+.
{19} For it is t)e de+isi*e nature of t)e metropolis
t)at its inner life o*er;ows by wa*es into a far'
;un- national or international area. Weimar is not
an e,ample to t)e +ontrary! sin+e its si-ni/+an+e
was )in-ed upon indi*idual personalities and died
wit) t)em4 w)ereas t)e metropolis is indeed
+)ara+teri3ed by its essential independen+e e*en
from t)e most eminent indi*idual personalities.
T)is is t)e +ounterpart to t)e independen+e! and it
is t)e pri+e t)e indi*idual pays for t)e
independen+e! w)i+) )e en9oys in t)e metropolis.
T)e most si-ni/+ant +)ara+teristi+ of t)e
metropolis is t)is fun+tional e,tension beyond its
p)ysi+al boundaries. 7nd t)is eD+a+y rea+ts in turn
and -i*es wei-)t! importan+e! and responsibility to
metropolitan life. 0an does not end wit) t)e limits
of )is body or t)e area +omprisin- )is immediate
a+ti*ity. ?at)er is t)e ran-e of t)e person
+onstituted by t)e sum of efe+ts emanatin- from
)im temporally and spatially. 2n t)e same way! a
+ity +onsists of its total efe+ts w)i+) e,tend
beyond its immediate +on/nes. <nly t)is ran-e is
t)e +ity1s a+tual e,tent in w)i+) its e,isten+e is
e,pressed. T)is fa+t makes it ob*ious t)at
indi*idual freedom! t)e lo-i+al and )istori+al
+omplement of su+) e,tension! is not to be
understood only in t)e ne-ati*e sense of mere
freedom of mobility and elimination of pre9udi+es
and petty p)ilistinism. T)e essential point is t)at
t)e parti+ularity and in+omparability! w)i+)
ultimately e*ery )uman bein- possesses! be
some)ow e,pressed in t)e workin-'out of a way of
life. T)at we follow t)e laws of our own nature'and
t)is after all is freedom'be+omes ob*ious and
+on*in+in- to oursel*es and to ot)ers only if t)e
e,pressions of t)is nature difer from t)e
e,pressions of ot)ers. <nly our unmistakability
pro*es t)at our way of life )as not been
superimposed by ot)ers.
Aities are! /rst of all! seats of t)e )i-)est e+onomi+
di*ision of labor. T)ey produ+e t)ereby su+)
e,treme p)enomena as in aris t)e remunerati*e
o++upation of t)e $uator%i&me. T)ey are persons
w)o identify t)emsel*es by si-ns on t)eir
residen+es and w)o are ready at t)e dinner )our in
+orre+t attire! so t)at t)ey +an be .ui+kly +alled
upon if a dinner party s)ould +onsist of t)irteen
persons. 2n t)e measure of its e,pansion! t)e +ity
ofers more and more t)e de+isi*e +onditions of t)e
di*ision of labor. 2t ofers a +ir+le w)i+) t)rou-) its
si3e +an absorb a )i-)ly di*erse *ariety of ser*i+es.
7t t)e same time! t)e +on+entration of indi*iduals
and t)eir stru--le for +ustomers +ompel t)e
indi*idual to spe+iali3e in a fun+tion from w)i+) )e
+annot be readily displa+ed by anot)er. 2t is
de+isi*e t)at +ity life )as transformed t)e stru--le
wit) nature for li*eli)ood into an inter')uman
stru--le for -ain! w)i+) )ere is not -ranted by
nature but by ot)er men. For spe+iali3ation does
not ;ow only from t)e +ompetition for -ain but also
from t)e underlyin- fa+t t)at t)e seller must
always seek to +all fort) new and diferentiated
needs of t)e lured +ustomer. 2n order to /nd a
sour+e of in+ome w)i+) is not yet e,)austed! and
to /nd a fun+tion w)i+) +annot readily be
displa+ed! it is ne+essary to spe+iali3e in one1s
ser*i+es. T)is pro+ess promotes diferentiation!
re/nement! and t)e enri+)ment of t)e publi+1s
needs! w)i+) ob*iously must lead to -rowin-
personal diferen+es wit)in t)is publi+.
7ll t)is forms t)e transition to t)e indi*iduali3ation
of mental and psy+)i+ traits w)i+) t)e +ity
o++asions in proportion to its si3e. T)ere is a w)ole
series of ob*ious +auses underlyin- t)is pro+ess.
First! one must meet t)e diD+ulty of assertin- )is
own personality wit)in t)e dimensions of
metropolitan life. W)ere t)e .uantitati*e in+rease
in importan+e and t)e e,pense of ener-y rea+)
t)eir limits! one sei3es upon .ualitati*e
diferentiation in order some)ow to attra+t t)e
attention of t)e so+ial +ir+le by playin- upon its
sensiti*ity for diferen+es. Finally! man is tempted
to adopt t)e most tendentious {2} pe+uliarities!
t)at is! t)e spe+i/+ally metropolitan e,tra*a-an+es
of mannerism! +apri+e! and pre+iousness. Now! t)e
meanin- of t)ese e,tra*a-an+es does not at all lie
in t)e +ontents of su+) be)a*ior! but rat)er in its
form of Bbein- diferent!B of standin- out in a
strikin- manner and t)ereby attra+tin- attention.
For many +)ara+ter types! ultimately t)e only
means of sa*in- for t)emsel*es some modi+um of
self'esteem and t)e sense of /llin- a position is
indire+t! t)rou-) t)e awareness of ot)ers. 2n t)e
same sense a seemin-ly insi-ni/+ant fa+tor is
operatin-! t)e +umulati*e efe+ts of w)i+) are!
)owe*er! still noti+eable. 2 refer to t)e bre*ity and
s+ar+ity of t)e inter')uman +onta+ts -ranted to t)e
metropolitan man! as +ompared wit) so+ial
inter+ourse in t)e small town. T)e temptation to
appear Bto t)e point!B to appear +on+entrated and
strikin-ly +)ara+teristi+! lies mu+) +loser to t)e
indi*idual in brief metropolitan +onta+ts t)an in an
atmosp)ere in w)i+) fre.uent and prolon-ed
asso+iation assures t)e personality of an
unambi-uous ima-e of )imself in t)e eyes of t)e
T)e most profound reason! )owe*er! w)y t)e
metropolis +ondu+es to t)e ur-e for t)e most
indi*idual personal e,isten+e ' no matter w)et)er
9usti/ed and su++essful ' appears to me to be t)e
followin-: t)e de*elopment of modern +ulture is
+)ara+teri3ed by t)e preponderance of what
one may call the 0ob"ective spirit0 {21} over
the 0sub"ective spirit.0 {22} T)is is to say! in
lan-ua-e as well as in law! in t)e te+)ni.ue of
produ+tion as well as in art! in s+ien+e as well as in
t)e ob9e+ts of t)e domesti+ en*ironment! t)ere is
embodied a sum of spirit {2!}. T)e indi*idual in
)is intelle+tual de*elopment follows t)e -rowt) of
t)is spirit *ery imperfe+tly and at an e*er
in+reasin- distan+e. 2f! for instan+e! we *iew t)e
immense +ulture w)i+) for t)e last )undred years
)as been embodied in t)in-s and in knowled-e! in
institutions and in +omforts! and if we +ompare all
t)is wit) t)e +ultural pro-ress of t)e indi*idual
durin- t)e same period'at least in )i-) status
-roups ' a fri-)tful disproportion in -rowt) between
t)e two be+omes e*ident. 2ndeed! at some points
we noti+e a retro-ression in t)e +ulture of t)e
indi*idual wit) referen+e to spirituality! deli+a+y!
and idealism. T)is dis+repan+y results essentially
from t)e -rowin- di*ision of labor. For t)e di*ision
of labor demands from t)e indi*idual an e*er more
one'sided a++omplis)ment! and t)e -reatest
ad*an+e in a one'sided pursuit only too fre.uently
means deart) to t)e personality of t)e indi*idual.
2n any +ase! )e +an +ope less and less wit) t)e
o*er-rowt) of ob9e+ti*e +ulture. T)e indi*idual is
redu+ed to a ne-li-ible .uantity! per)aps less in )is
+ons+iousness t)an in )is pra+ti+e and in t)e
totality of )is obs+ure emotional states t)at are
deri*ed from t)is pra+ti+e. T)e indi*idual )as
be+ome a mere +o- in an enormous or-ani3ation of
t)in-s and powers w)i+) tear from )is )ands all
pro-ress! spirituality! and *alue in order to
transform t)em from t)eir sub9e+ti*e form into t)e
form of a purely ob9e+ti*e life. 2t needs merely to
be pointed out t)at t)e metropolis is t)e -enuine
arena of t)is +ulture w)i+) out-rows all personal
life. 5ere in buildin-s and edu+ational institutions!
in t)e wonders and +omforts of spa+e'+on.uerin-
te+)nolo-y! in t)e formations of +ommunity life!
and in t)e *isible institutions of t)e state! is ofered
su+) an o*erw)elmin- fullness of +rystalli3ed and
impersonali3ed spirit t)at t)e personality! so to
speak! +annot maintain itself under its impa+t. <n
t)e one )and! life is made in/nitely easy for t)e
personality in t)at stimulations! interests! uses of
time and +ons+iousness are ofered to it from all
sides. T)ey +arry t)e person as if in a stream! and
one needs )ardly to swim for oneself. <n t)e ot)er
)and! )owe*er! life is +omposed more and more of
t)ese impersonal +ontents and oferin-s w)i+)
tend to displa+e t)e -enuine personal +olorations
and in+omparabilities. T)is results in t)e
indi*idual1s summonin- t)e utmost in uni.ueness
and parti+ulari3ation! in order to preser*e )is most
personal +ore. 5e )as to e,a--erate t)is personal
element in order to remain audible e*en to )imself.
T)e atrop)y {24} of indi*idual +ulture t)rou-) t)e
)ypertrop)y {25} of ob9e+ti*e +ulture is one
reason for t)e bitter )atred w)i+) t)e prea+)ers of
t)e most e,treme indi*idualism! abo*e all
Niet3s+)e! )arbor a-ainst t)e metropolis. 6ut it is!
indeed! also a reason w)y t)ese prea+)ers are so
passionately lo*ed in t)e metropolis and w)y t)ey
appear to t)e metropolitan man as t)e prop)ets
and sa*iors of )is most unsatis/ed yearnin-s.
2f one asks for t)e )istori+al position of t)e two
forms of indi*idualism w)i+) are nouris)ed by t)e
.uantitati*e relation of t)e metropolis! namely!
indi*idual independen+e and t)e elaboration of
indi*iduality itself! t)en t)e metropolis assumes an
entirely new rank order in t)e world )istory of t)e
spirit. T)e ei-)teent) +entury found t)e indi*idual
in oppressi*e bonds w)i+) )ad be+ome
meanin-less'bonds of a politi+al! a-rarian! -uild!
and reli-ious +)ara+ter. T)ey were restraints w)i+)!
so to speak! for+ed upon man an unnatural form
and outmoded! un9ust ine.ualities. 2n t)is situation
t)e +ry for liberty and e.uality arose! t)e belief in
t)e indi*idual1s full freedom of mo*ement in all
so+ial and intelle+tual relations)ips. Freedom would
at on+e permit t)e noble substan+e +ommon to all
to +ome to t)e fore! a substan+e w)i+) nature )ad
deposited in e*ery man and w)i+) so+iety and
)istory )ad only deformed. 6esides t)is
ei-)teent)'+entury ideal of liberalism! in t)e
nineteent) +entury! t)rou-) Eoet)e and
?omanti+ism! on t)e one )and! and t)rou-) t)e
e+onomi+ di*ision of labor! on t)e ot)er )and!
anot)er ideal arose: indi*iduals liberated from
)istori+al bonds now wis)ed to distin-uis)
t)emsel*es from one anot)er. T)e +arrier of man1s
*alues is no lon-er t)e B-eneral )uman bein-B in
e*ery indi*idual! but rat)er man1s .ualitati*e
uni.ueness and irrepla+eability. T)e e,ternal and
internal )istory of our time takes its +ourse wit)in
t)e stru--le and in t)e +)an-in- entan-lements of
t)ese two ways of de/nin- t)e indi*idual1s role in
t)e w)ole of so+iety. 2t is t)e fun+tion of t)e
metropolis to pro*ide t)e arena for t)is stru--le
and its re+on+iliation. For t)e metropolis presents
t)e pe+uliar +onditions w)i+) are re*ealed to us as
t)e opportunities and t)e stimuli for t)e
de*elopment of bot) t)ese ways of allo+atin- roles
to men. T)erewit) t)ese +onditions -ain a uni.ue
pla+e! pre-nant wit) inestimable meanin-s for t)e
de*elopment of psy+)i+ e,isten+e. T)e metropolis
re*eals itself as one of t)ose -reat )istori+al
formations in w)i+) opposin- streams w)i+)
en+lose life unfold! as well as 9oin one anot)er wit)
e.ual ri-)t. 5owe*er! in t)is pro+ess t)e +urrents
of life! w)et)er t)eir indi*idual p)enomena tou+)
us sympat)eti+ally or antipat)eti+ally! entirely
trans+end t)e sp)ere for w)i+) t)e 9ud-e1s attitude
is appropriate. 8in+e su+) for+es of life )a*e -rown
into t)e roots and into t)e +rown of t)e w)ole of
t)e )istori+al life in w)i+) we! in our ;eetin-
e,isten+e! as a +ell! belon- only as a part! it is not
our task either to accuse or to pardon, but
only to understand.
" fun+tional spe+iali3ation is t)e di*ision of labor!
or work! into separate tasks! ea+) of w)i+)
+ontributes to t)e total result (like an
anaest)esiolo-ist! sur-eon! sur-i+al nurse! et+.
parti+ipatin- in an operation)4 t)e +ontribution of
ea+) spe+iali3ed task to t)e total result is its
( w)at -i*es somet)in- meanin-
F super'indi*idual +ontents of life are w)at t)e
indi*iduals in a so+iety s)are4 t)e term in+ludes
+ulture (for e,ample! money! w)i+) is t)e same
t)in- for all of t)ose w)o e,+)an-e it and
e,+)an-e for it)
& sense data: w)at is seen! )eard! smelled!
tou+)ed! tasted and felt
$ t)e entire +ons+ious life of an indi*idual4 its
B)i-)est le*elB is t)e intelle+t4 its Blowest le*elB is
mute feelin-
G t)e part of t)e psy+)e (mind) t)at t)inks t)in-s
out and +al+ulates t)e +auses and +onse.uen+es of
H means of e,+)an-e are t)e ways t)in-s (-oods
and ser*i+es) are transferred from one indi*idual to
anot)er4 e-.! by money! by barter! or by +ustom
(e-. birt)day -ifts)
I formal 9usti+e means t)at w)o -ets w)at is
stri+tly determined by rules t)at pay no attention
to indi*idual diferen+es
# )a*in- to do wit) money
"% in t)e money e+onomy! t)in-s and ser*i+es are
produ+ed for money and a+.uired by payin-
money for t)em (as opposed to barter and
+ommon s)arin-)
"" e,pressed in non'numeri+al +)ara+teristi+s '
e-.! +olor! emotion
"( e,pressed in numbers
"F so*erei-n types of personality are personalities
t)at will not +)an-e or +ompromise t)eir distin+ti*e
attitudes! be)a*iors and desires
"& unresponsi*eness to stimulation4 refusal or
inability to be emotionally mo*ed by or in*ol*ed in
people and t)in-s
"$ )oldin- ba+k from respondin- fully to ot)er
"G t)e unit of an+ient Ereek so+iety4 t)e +ity state
(A)i+a-o! wit)out t)e J.8. or 2llinois! rulin- itself
"H t)e ot)er side of t)e story
"I t)e attitude t)at not)in- )uman is forei-n to
me4 t)at t)e w)ole realm of +ulture! w)ere*er it
ori-inates! is open to me ' 2 draw no boundaries
around parts of +ulture t)at make t)ose parts
belon- only to separate -roups (e-.! B2talian +ulture
is only for 2taliansB)
"# self'suD+ient
(% imposin- an a-enda! imposin- one1s will
(" ob9e+ti*e +ulture ' t)e +olle+tion of rules! tools!
symbols and produ+ts +reated by )uman bein-s
(( sub9e+ti*e +ulture ' w)at indi*iduals )a*e been
able to absorb and inte-rate into t)emsel*es from
ob9e+ti*e +ulture
(F spirit is mind or +ons+iousness! and t)e results
of +ons+ious a+ti*ity (+ulture) (for e,ample!
+omposin- musi+ and t)e musi+ t)at )as been
+omposed are types or modes of spirit)
(& wastin- away
($ o*er'de*elopment