For fifteen years Simmel
remained a Privatdozent. In 1901, when he was forty-three, the academic
authorities finally consented to grant him the rank of Ausserordentlicher
Professor, a purely honorary title that still did no allow him to
take part in the affairs of the academic community and failed to
remove the stigma of the outsider. Simmel was by now a man of great
eminence, whose fame had spread to other European countries as well
as to the United States. He was the author of six books and more
than seventy articles, many of which had been translated into English,
French, Italian, Polish, and Russian. Yet, whenever Simmel attempted
to gain an academic promotion, he was rebuffed. Whenever a senior
position became vacant at one of the German universities, Simmel
competed for it. Although his applications were supported by the
recommendations of leading scholars, Max Weber among others, they
did not meet with success.
Despite all the
rebuffs Simmel received from his academic peers, it would be a mistake
to see in him an embittered outsider. He played an active part in
the intellectual and cultural life of the capital, frequenting many
fashionable salons and participating in various cultural circles.
He attended the meetings of philosophers and sociologists and was
a co-founder, with Weber and Toennies, of the German Society for
Sociology. He made many friends in the world of arts and letters;
the two leading poets of Germany, Rainer Maria Rilke and Stefan
George, were his personal friends. He enjoyed the active give-and-take
of conversation with artists and art critics, with top-level journalists
and writers. Very much a man about town, Simmel stood in the intersection
of many intellectual circles, addressed himself to a variety of
audiences, and enjoyed the freedom from constraints that comes from
such an interstitial position.
His sense of relative
ease must also have been enhanced by the fact that he was free of
financial worry. His guardian had left him a considerable fortune
so that he was not beset by financial concerns as were so many Privatdozenten
and Ausserodentliche Professoren in the prewar German university.
In the Berlin years Simmel and his wife Gertrud, whom he had married
in 1890, lived a comfortable and fairly sheltered bourgeois life.
His wife was a philosopher in her own right who published, under
the pseudonym Marie- Luise Enckendorf, on such diverse topics as
the philosophy of religion and of sexuality; she made his home a
stage for cultivated gatherings where the sociability about which
Simmel wrote so perceptively found a perfect setting.
Although Simmel suffered
the rebuff of academic selection committees, he enjoyed the support
and friendship of many eminent academic men. Max Weber, Heinrich
Rickert, Edmund Husserl, and Adolf von Harnack attempted repeatedly
to provide for him the academic recognition he so amply deserved.
Simmel undoubtedly was gratified that these renowned academicians
for whom he had the highest regard recognized his eminence.