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

By Denise Phillips

Although a few of the sensible 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 be aware that might later suggest “science,” naturwissenschaft, was once now not even integrated in dictionaries. by way of 1850, in spite of the fact that, the time period used to be in use in all places. Acolytes of Nature follows the emergence of this crucial new class inside German-speaking Europe, tracing its upward thrust from a mere eighteenth-century neologism to a defining rallying cry of contemporary German culture.

Today’s suggestion of a unified common technology has been deemed an invention of the mid-nineteenth century. but what Denise Phillips finds this is that the belief of naturwissenschaft acquired a fashionable position in German public existence numerous many years past. Phillips uncovers the evolving outlines of the class of normal technological know-how and examines why Germans of various social station and highbrow commitments got here to discover this label worthy. An increasing schooling process, an more and more bright patron tradition and concrete social existence, the early phases of industrialization, and the emergence of a liberal political circulate all essentially altered the area within which proficient Germans lived, and likewise reshaped the way in which they categorised knowledge.

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

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75 With the benefit of recent work on early modern scholarly practices, this sharp dividing line now seems untenable. 76 Especially in the history of the natural sciences, this interpretive tradition, which posited a “research revolution” around 1800, made it hard to see the thick continuities that linked the early modern learned world with the scientific culture of the late eighteenth century. In order for the “republic of letters” to be a useful analytical concept, however, it has to be used with greater specificity than is sometimes the case.

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. Gehler used the phrase “natural science as a whole” to mean all of learned natural knowledge in one of the sentences in his article; just a few lines earlier, however, he had listed the word as a synonym for natural philosophy.

Against this backdrop, late eighteenthcentury developments could seem more novel than they actually were. 75 With the benefit of recent work on early modern scholarly practices, this sharp dividing line now seems untenable. 76 Especially in the history of the natural sciences, this interpretive tradition, which posited a “research revolution” around 1800, made it hard to see the thick continuities that linked the early modern learned world with the scientific culture of the late eighteenth century.

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