German academic science and the mandarin ethos, 1850–1880

British Journal for the History of Science 17 (1):1-29 (1984)
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During the nineteenth century an intellectual elite formed in Germany which owed its status primarily to educational qualifications rather than to hereditary rights or wealth. With the ascendency of this elite, which Fritz Ringer has called the German ‘mandarins’, came their acceptance as the spiritual bearers of culture in German life. Politically they controlled the life of the Reichstag and hence were the spokesmen of the nation. As an intellectual elite they fed a diet of German idealistic philosophy to the educational class. The university professors, as the most influential members of this class, spoke for the mandarin elite as a whole; and most cultivated Germans looked to the academicians for their understanding of political and cultural issues. Hence, German academic opinion became a sort of ‘mandarin ideology’.



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