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By Denise Phillips

Although a number of the useful and highbrow traditions that make up sleek technological know-how date again centuries, the class of “science” itself is a relative novelty. within the early eighteenth century, the fashionable German note that will later suggest “science,” naturwissenschaft, was once no longer even incorporated in dictionaries. by means of 1850, notwithstanding, the time period was once in use in all places. Acolytes of Nature follows the emergence of this crucial new classification inside German-speaking Europe, tracing its upward thrust from a mere eighteenth-century neologism to a defining rallying cry of recent German culture.

Today’s suggestion of a unified common technology has been deemed an invention of the mid-nineteenth century. but what Denise Phillips unearths this is that the assumption of naturwissenschaft acquired a admired position in German public lifestyles numerous many years past. Phillips uncovers the evolving outlines of the class of normal technology and examines why Germans of assorted social station and highbrow commitments got here to discover this label valuable. An increasing schooling process, an more and more bright buyer tradition and concrete social lifestyles, the early phases of industrialization, and the emergence of a liberal political flow all essentially altered the realm during which trained Germans lived, and in addition reshaped the best way they labeled knowledge.

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87 For both Germany’s academic elite and more modest figures, local scientific societies provided an answer to this dilemma. They allowed learned men to advertise the collective scientific resources of their city within a landscape full of competing centers; at the same time, they made each member’s scientific accomplishments more visible within local cultural life. In nineteenth- century Germany, intellectual reputations were secured first and foremost through publication, but the business of building a name for oneself was not just a matter for the printed page.

In their interests, memberships, and activities, the various nature-researching societies or physical societies of the late eighteenth century were very similar to societies devoted to improving agriculture and manufacturing, groups generally referred to as “economic-patriotic societies” in the German context. 37 Both socially and intellectually, the period’s learned societies were closely connected with the development of cameralism, an eighteenthcentury science that tried to increase state revenues through the improvement of agriculture, forestry, mining, and the handicrafts.

But it mapped onto an intellectual world with decidedly different structures, access points, and internal expectations. The central features of this learned public came from the evolving traditions of the early modern republic of letters. By the late eighteenth century, this knowledgeable, learned public was intertwined with the wider reading public but had not dissolved into it entirely. An anonymous reviewer in the Journal aller Journale described this difference clearly in an article about a recent Hamburg production of Schiller’s Don Carlos.

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