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By Denise Phillips

Although the various useful and highbrow traditions that make up glossy technology date again centuries, the class of “science” itself is a relative novelty. within the early eighteenth century, the trendy German notice that might later suggest “science,” naturwissenschaft, used to be now not even incorporated in dictionaries. by way of 1850, even if, the time period used to be in use all over. Acolytes of Nature follows the emergence of this crucial new type inside German-speaking Europe, tracing its upward push from a mere eighteenth-century neologism to a defining rallying cry of recent German culture.

Today’s thought of a unified traditional technological know-how has been deemed an invention of the mid-nineteenth century. but what Denise Phillips unearths here's that the assumption of naturwissenschaft acquired a well known position in German public existence numerous a long time prior. Phillips uncovers the evolving outlines of the class of usual technology and examines why Germans of assorted social station and highbrow commitments got here to discover this label beneficial. An increasing schooling method, an more and more bright client tradition and concrete social existence, the early levels of industrialization, and the emergence of a liberal political stream all essentially altered the realm within which trained Germans lived, and in addition reshaped the way in which they categorized knowledge.

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Extra info for Acolytes of nature : defining natural science in Germany, 1770-1850

Sample text

Eighteenth- and nineteenth-century German intellectuals participated in a variety of sophisticated, complicated debates about the nature of natural knowledge. To interpret their complex reflections on this topic merely as the product of social anxieties or collective enthusiasms would be facile. 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.

26 A Naturkenner knew more about nature than other people did; he or 33 CHAPTER 1 she also had a special emotional, spiritual, and aesthetic relationship to the natural world. The enlightened natural researcher, in other words, was not “objective” in the modern sense (his successors in the first half of the nineteenth century would not be either). Late nineteenthcentury ideals of objectivity tried to eliminate the subjectivity of the knower from the process of making knowledge. 27 An eighteenth-century Kenner was both an expert and a connoisseur; he had a trained eye and a warm heart.

86 This thriving print culture did not lessen educated Germans’ desire for local intellectual sociability, however; if anything, it heightened it. For if specialized scientific accomplishments were to mean anything in a man’s daily life, they needed to be visible in a local setting. Jacob Sturm’s eulogizer described how difficult it could be to get cosmopolitan learned fame to register in a local context: “Hardly anyone in his native city noticed him,” Hilpert wrote. ”87 For both Germany’s academic elite and more modest figures, local scientific societies provided an answer to this dilemma.

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