The Identity Crisis? Philosophical Questions about the University as a Modern Institution

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The university in the form we are familiar with - the modern university - derives from the intellectual work of German philosophers: from Kant and Fichte to Schleiermacher and Humboldt. Being a modem institution, it is relatively new and was bom together with the rise in national aspirations and the rise in the significance of Nation-States in the 19th century.A tacit deal made between power and knowledge, on the one hand, provided scholars with unprecedented institutional possibilities and, on the other, obliged them to support national culture and to help with constituting national subjects - citizens of Nation-States. The alliance between modem knowledge and modern power gave rise to the foundations of the modem institution of the university. Both European, as well as American universities were either founded or transformed on the basis of the project written in 1808 by Wilhelm von Humboldt for the University of Berlin. The place, social function and role of the university as one of the most significant institutions of modernity were clearly determined. But currently, when the project of modernity undergoes radical transformations (toward late-modemity,or even postmodemity), it is no longer known what the exact place of the university in society is, for the society itself gets changed.




modern university, German idea of the university, Humboldtian university, identity crisis, German philosophy, nation-state, national state, welfare state, the university and the state, modernity, modern institution


In: Zbigniew Drozdowicz / Peter Gerlich / Krzysztof Glass (editors), EUROPÄISIERUNG DER BILDUNGSSYSTEME, ÖSTERREICHISCHE GESELLSCHAFT FÜR MITTELEUROPÄISCHE STUDIEN HUMANIORA Fundacja dla humanistyki WIEN-POZNAŃ 2000, pp. 23-36.



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Uniwersytet im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Biblioteka Uniwersytetu im. Adama Mickiewicza w Poznaniu
Ministerstwo Nauki i Szkolnictwa Wyższego