The Idea of the University: The Humboldtian Tradition in Twentieth-Century Germany

The Idea of the University: The Humboldtian Tradition in Twentieth-Century Germany

Johan Östling

The purpose of this project was a historical analysis of the ideas of the university that circulated in twentieth-century Germany. The key issue explored was the way in which the Humboldtian tradition was transformed, and how Wilhelm von Humboldt gave direction to the debates. In order to operationalize the study, the analysis concentrated on three significant periods of reform: the Weimar Republic; the immediate postwar period in the late 1940s; and the Federal Republic in the 1960s. Johan Östling approached university history as intellectual history, concentrating on the meaning, metamorphosis, and appropriation of ideas and concepts. He thereby paid special attention to the German academic elite and the shifting self-understandings of the Mandarins.