Acolytes of nature : defining natural science in Germany, by Denise Phillips

By Denise Phillips

Although a few of the useful and highbrow traditions that make up glossy technological know-how date again centuries, the class of “science” itself is a relative novelty. within the early eighteenth century, the trendy German observe that might later suggest “science,” naturwissenschaft, was once no longer even integrated in dictionaries. via 1850, even if, the time period was once in use all over. Acolytes of Nature follows the emergence of this crucial new class inside German-speaking Europe, tracing its upward thrust from a trifling eighteenth-century neologism to a defining rallying cry of recent German culture.

Today’s thought of a unified normal technology has been deemed an invention of the mid-nineteenth century. but what Denise Phillips finds here's that the belief of naturwissenschaft acquired a sought after position in German public existence numerous a long time prior. Phillips uncovers the evolving outlines of the class of ordinary technological know-how and examines why Germans of assorted social station and highbrow commitments got here to discover this label helpful. An increasing schooling process, an more and more bright customer tradition and concrete social lifestyles, the early levels of industrialization, and the emergence of a liberal political stream all essentially altered the area within which knowledgeable Germans lived, and in addition reshaped the way in which they categorized knowledge.

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Additional resources for Acolytes of nature : defining natural science in Germany, 1770-1850

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95 When the Society of Nature-Researching Friends described how it made reliable knowledge, the personal connections among all its members remained central. According to Martini, networks of friends were networks of observers who carried the society’s local Berlin core along with them to the farthest corners of the globe. ”96 As the society’s revised 1784 statutes put it, the group’s nonlocal members were “friends who see, hear, observe, judge, etc. 98 Networks of learned friends also helped structure the world of printed exchange.

For the editors of the 1833 Gehler dictionary, who took it as their task to describe the contours of learned natural knowledge with some degree of intellectual precision, “Naturwissenschaft” was not yet an indispensable reference point. 28 N AT U R A L K N O W L E D G E A N D T H E L E A R N E D P U B L I C To be able to follow the trajectory of this word after 1800, however, we need to first be clear on its late eighteenth-century status. In this regard, statements like the one Gehler made in 1790 are deceptive in their apparent familiarity.

What this book attempts to understand, however, is why intellectually sophisticated and highly individualized people aligned themselves with certain broad, general habits of linguistic usage. In explaining that kind of behavior, shared status anxieties, along with shared passions and ambitions, offer a good starting place for analysis. The Germans in Comparative Context There are many aspects of the developments I have just outlined above that are not particular to Germany. The tensions I have described bear a strong family resemblance, in fact, to the conflicts that other historians have examined within French and British science in the same period.

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