Revisiting The Classical German Idea of the University

Polish Journal of Philosophy 2 (1):55-78 (2008)
  Copy   BIBTEX


The aim of the paper is to provide a philosophical and historical background to current discussions about the changing relationships between the university and the state through revisiting the classical “Humboldtian” model of the university as discussed in classical German philosophy. This historical detour is intended to highlight the cultural rootedness of the modern idea of the university, and its close links to the idea of the modern national state. The paper discusses the idea of the university as it emerges from the philosophy of Wilhelm von Humbold, Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich Schleiermacher, as well as - in the 20th century - Karl Jaspers and Jürgen Habermas. More detailed questions discussed include the historical pact between the modern university and the modern nation-state, the main principles of the Humboldtian university, the process of the nationalization of European universities, the national aspect of the German idea of culture (Bildung), and the tension between the pursuit of truth and public responsibilities of the modern university. In discussing current and future missions and roles of the institution of the university today, it can be useful to revisit its foundational (modern) German idea. In thinking about its future, it can be constructive to reflect on the evident current tensions between traditional modern expectations of the university and the new expectations intensified by the emergence of knowledge-based societies and market-driven economies. From the perspective of the tensions between old and new tasks of the university, it is useful to look back at the turning point in its history.

Similar books and articles

Newman's idea of a university : A guide for the contemporary university?Ian Ker - 1999 - In D. C. Smith & Anne Karin Langslow (eds.), The Idea of a University. J. Kingsley Publishers.
The changing idea of a university.David Smith - 1999 - In D. C. Smith & Anne Karin Langslow (eds.), The Idea of a University. J. Kingsley Publishers.
The Idea of a Modern University. [REVIEW]John Donnelly - 1976 - International Philosophical Quarterly 16 (2):248-251.
Liberalism and post‐modern Hermeneutics.Elliot Yale Neaman - 1988 - Critical Review: A Journal of Politics and Society 2 (2-3):149-165.


Added to PP

510 (#37,255)

6 months
104 (#43,174)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Marek Kwiek
Adam Mickiewicz University

Citations of this work

Three Ideas of the University.James Alexander - 2019 - The European Legacy 24 (5):492-510.

Add more citations