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An intellectual history

In the twenty-first century, intense debates concerning the university have flared up in Germany. An underlying factor is the general feeling that the country's once so excellent universities have been irredeemably left behind. This book anchors the current debate about the university in the past by exploring the history and varying meanings of the tradition of Wilhelm von Humboldt. It first provides a history of the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin and the history and content of the Humboldtian tradition. Humboldt was involved in Greek antiquity, theory of education, Prussian educational system, and comparative linguistics. If, in spite of this versatility, a comprehensive idea, his Lebensthema, is to be found, it would have to be human beings and their Education. The book discusses the contributions of Adolf von Harnack and Eduard Spranger who emphasised Humboldt as a prominent figure in German university history. It focuses on three of the most influential figures in the post-war debate on the university: philosopher Karl Jaspers, historian Gerhard Ritter, and Germanic philologist Werner Richter. The 150th anniversary celebrations of the university in 1960 saw the eastern Berlin academia claiming to be the bearers of the true Humboldtian spirit and the west demonstrating itself as taking over Humboldt's original idea. The years following 2000 saw most European countries realising university reforms without any notable opposition, but in Germany the Bologna process gave rise to heated discussions in the public sphere.

Johan Östling

nation had a future, it was not as a political great power but as an intellectual one. In their present situation, the Germans were – with an echo 1  Wolfgang Schivelbusch, Vor dem Vorhang: Das geistige Berlin 1945–1948 (Munich, 1995); Jörg Echternkamp, Nach dem Krieg: Alltagsnot, Neuorientierung und die Last der Vergangenheit 1945–1949 (Zürich, 2003). Parts of this chapter build upon earlier texts of mine: Johan Östling, ‘The Regeneration of the University: Karl Jaspers and the Humboldtian Tradition in the Wake of the Second World War’, in The Humboldtian Tradition

in Humboldt and the modern German university
Johan Östling

early nineteenth century than, for instance, Friedrich Althoff’s bureaucratically authoritarian system. During the second half of the 1920s, it was clear that Becker would not be successful in changing the German university. His support among the professorial community for carrying out democratic reforms had been very limited even at the outset. When darkness fell in the years surrounding 1930, it became even more difficult to gain a hearing for idealistic and humanistic visions.48 Nor can the philosopher Karl Jaspers be assigned to either camp – for or against

in Humboldt and the modern German university
Patricia Allmer

, set surrealistic priorities for most people.’ 8 Public discourse in the immediate aftermath of this surreal devastation centred (as Klünner emphasises) on processes of survival, and on the need to respond appropriately to the disastrous historical and political weight of the previous 12 years. The word ‘ Schuld ’ (guilt) was central to this debate. Both Arendt and the existentialist philosopher Karl Jaspers (whose teaching post had been suspended by the Nazis in 1937 because of his marriage to a Jewish

in The traumatic surreal
Ben Alderson-Day

’s bipolar disorder). It was a biologically driven disorder of the mind and brain, but not something primarily characterized by hallucination or delusion. 5 Hallucinations were given a more prominent and influential role—along with delusions—in the work of Karl Jaspers and Kurt Schneider, two psychiatrists who drew upon ideas from existential philosophy in their study of schizophrenia. One of Jaspers’s main contributions is the claim that the form of psychiatric symptoms is more important than their content, with

in Presence
Mechtild Widrich

the appropriation of Nordic mythic symbols in often monumental ways by far right activists. 7 See Krasny, “Of the Silence of the Dead.” Discussions with Krasny were important at different stages of this project. The allocation and the taking of responsibility has been central to modern memory discourse at least since Karl Jaspers, The Question of German Guilt , trans. E.B. Ashton (New York: Dial Press, 1947). It assumes new contours as theological and Freudian notions of guilt

in Monumental cares
Abstract only
Living in the shadow
Ronit Lentin

Mann, that ‘whoever did not experience it, whoever was not despairingly caught up in this labyrinth, throws the first stone at his people too easily’ (Kästner 1959). Kästner heaped scorn upon Jung’s proposition that the sentimental distinction between Nazis and opponents of the regime was ‘psychologically illegitimate’, and his insistence that ‘all Germans were either actively or passively, consciously or unconsciously, participants in the atrocities’ (Jung 1989,. cited in Olick 2007: 304—5). By contrast, Karl Jaspers another ‘inner emigrant’ – differentiated between

in Co-memory and melancholia
Ben Cohen
Eve Garrard

affective correlate (amongst the just) is shame. In some more extensive reflections whose parallel with Levi’s has been noted before, 6 the German philosopher Karl Jaspers put forward a similar idea. Writing just after the war on the subject of German guilt, Jaspers proposed a fourfold schema: of, in turn, criminal, political, moral and metaphysical guilt. It is the last pair that is of particular interest in the present context, but I briefly summarize the schema as a whole. Criminal guilt, in Jaspers’ schema, relates to acts of violating unequivocal laws and

in The Norman Geras Reader
Jürgen Habermas and the European left
Robert Fine
Philip Spencer

each other, were all informed by the common sense that human beings need protection from the violence of which the modern state has shown itself capable. These were very important innovations in International Criminal Law. They represented, as Karl Jaspers put it, the hint of a cosmopolitanism to come – ‘a feeble, ambiguous harbinger of a world order the need of which mankind is beginning to feel’. 9 However, they were considerably marginalised with the onset

in Antisemitism and the left
Open Access (free)
Johan Östling

Leiden der Hochschulreform’ (approx. ‘The chronic disease of university reform’). He argued that it was wrong to try – as had Karl Jaspers and others during the early post-war era – to re-establish the old university. Instead, he insisted that critical reflection on the roles of science and scholarship and the university in society must form the point of departure for all reforms. This was a fundamental idea that was discussed in Hochschule in der Demokratie.98 The purpose of this text was to intervene in the current universitypolitical debate from a Socialist point of

in Humboldt and the modern German university