Humboldt and his ideals of the modern university

  Wilhelm von Humboldt was a famous German educational reformer, linguist and diplomat. He is often mentioned not only because of his important place in academic history, but also because of the university named after him among the world-renowned universities – Humboldt University. The university is considered the “mother of all modern universities”. In 1810 he said with great confidence: “The educational system of our country has received a new impetus from me. Although I have only been in office for a year, many of the institutions that I have reformed in the administration of education will remain. In Berlin The establishment of a whole new university is greater than my contribution in other fields.”
  Humboldt was born in 1767 in a noble family in Potsdam, Germany, he was the brother of Alexander von Humboldt, who also made important contributions to Humboldt University. . William received a good family education in his early years. In 1787, he entered the University of Frankfurt to study law, and then transferred to the University of Göttingen in Germany. In 1791 he married the daughter of a Senator of the Supreme Court of Prussia. After that, he worked in various journals and wrote an aesthetic essay on Goethe’s Hermann and Dou Greenmoss. From 1802 to 1808 he served as Prussian minister to the Holy See. In December 1809, Humboldt was appointed head of the Department of Education and Culture of the Ministry of the Interior by King Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, a newly formed body dedicated to ensuring that educational opportunities were more accessible to all social classes.
  Compared with Italy, Britain, France and other countries, higher education in Germany started late, but developed rapidly. The more famous universities are the University of Halle established in 1694 and the University of Göttingen established in 1737. In 1807, Napoleon’s army defeated the fourth anti-French alliance formed by Russia, Prussia and other countries, forcing Russia to sign the “Tilsit Agreement”, recognizing France’s dominance in Europe, and a large area of ​​Prussia including Halle University. ceded out. After the fiasco, the whole country had a hard time, made in-depth analysis, and determined to reform. The German Emperor Frederick and William III proposed “to make up for the loss of the body with spiritual strength”, which requires starting from improving the quality of the people and transforming people’s “minds”. William III said to the professor who escaped from Halle University: “It is precisely because of poverty that education is required. I have never heard of a country that is poor or subjugated because of education. Education not only does not To make the country poor, on the contrary, education is the best means to get rid of poverty!” The Prussian military and political circles demanded that education be used to achieve the goal of enriching the country and strengthening the army, and the Prussian ideological and educational circles also provided the necessary philosophical foundation for the emergence of a new university. In 1807, the philosopher Fichte published “The Ins and Outs of the Plan for the Establishment of an Institution of Higher Learning in Berlin”, and in 1808 Friedrich and Schleiermacher published “The Delusion of the University with German Characteristics”, both of them proposed A new set of university concepts holds that schools should have the status of autonomy and independence, philosophy should have a central position in universities, and the essence of universities is to pursue scientific spirit, etc.
  Humboldt absorbed the ideas of Fichte, Schleiermacher and others. When preparing for the establishment of Humboldt University, he wrote articles such as “Königsberg School Plan”, which formed his “ideal view of the university”. He believed that universities should be devoted to pure science and cultivation. The so-called pure science refers to philosophy, which is the basis of all sciences and provides methodological guidance for scientific research. Self-cultivation is the quality that a person should have as a social person, and it is the result of the all-round development of personality. Through the combination of teaching and scientific research, the university promotes the undergraduates to accept the influence of pure science in order to carry out research study. The combination of teaching and research at Humboldt University is mainly achieved through “seminar”, that is, seminar-style learning. In Humboldt’s view, the university is no longer a place for imparting knowledge, but an academic community for scientific inquiry. Consistent with the mission of the university, the basic organizing principles of the university are loneliness and freedom. In Humboldt’s view, for pure scientific activities, “freedom is necessary and loneliness is beneficial; all the external organization of the university is based on these two points.” University teachers and students should be dedicated to learning and be willing to endure loneliness. In universities, teaching is free, and learning is free. To sum up, what Humboldt advocates is the core concept of the spirit generally recognized by modern universities—the ideas of “combining teaching and research”, “priority of scientific research”, “university autonomy”, and “academic freedom”.
  Under the guidance of this concept, Germany founded Friedrich Wilhelm University in 1809, with its campus located in the Unter den Linden Street in the center of Berlin. In 1810, the school officially opened and was renamed the University of Berlin, with Schleiermacher serving as the interim president. In October 1811, Fichte was elected official rector. At the beginning of its establishment, the school had a total of 52 teachers and 256 students, and established 4 colleges including law, medicine, philosophy, and theology. Humboldt hired Schleiermacher, a professor of theology, Savigny, a law professor, Burke, a linguist, Hoofland, a professor of medicine, Hegel, a professor of philosophy, and Klaprot, a professor of chemistry, and other first-class scholars for the University of Berlin. However, Humboldt’s tenure in office was short, and he went to Vienna to serve as the Prussian minister without seeing the opening of the University of Berlin.
  History has not stopped because of the transfer of one person. Humboldt’s school-running philosophy has been widely recognized and inherited. The University of Berlin carries the German nation’s dream of becoming a powerful country in education, and undertakes the mission entrusted by history. its long journey. Germany gradually gathered a large number of outstanding talents with the University of Berlin as the center, and Berlin quickly became one of the cultural centers of Europe at that time. The reform of the University of Berlin has become a model of modern universities, leading the development trend of universities in Europe and even the world, pushing the development of higher education to a new stage, and its school-running model is sought after and imitated by other countries. For this reason, the University of Berlin is called “the mother of all modern universities”.
  After the establishment of the University of Berlin, for a period of time, it has been famous for its philosophy, law and other disciplines, and famous teachers gathered here. Fichte, Schelling, Hegel, Schopenhauer and others have taught here. In 1827, Alexander, Feng, and Humboldt took up positions at the University of Berlin, which changed the situation. Alexander Humboldt was a great naturalist with research interests in the fields of science, geology, geophysics, meteorology and biology. He is the founder and founder of many modern disciplines. At the University of Berlin, he was the first head of the world’s first department of geography. He held 61 consecutive public science lectures titled ‘The Universe’ at the school, which achieved great success. The audience came from all social classes, and his published works were also popular. Driven by Alexander and Humboldt, the school began to focus on the The research of natural science, physics, chemistry, mathematics, medicine and other disciplines have developed rapidly. From the second half of the 19th century, a group of natural scientists emerged at the University of Berlin, such as chemist Hoffmann, physicist Schrödinger, Helmholm Z, mathematicians Kummer, Cronell, Wierstrass.
  In the past two centuries, the University of Berlin has been the training base for outstanding talents in various fields in Germany. It can be said that without the University of Berlin, there would be no splendid German civilization. Many thinkers, philosophers, and writers were born here, such as Fichte, Hegel, Feuerbach, Heine, Schopenhauer, Benjamin, Marx, Engels and others who taught or studied here. And their profound ideas changed the face of Germany and the whole world. On the square in front of the University of Berlin stands a striking book monument, which aims to commemorate German thinkers including Marx and Goethe who have contributed to the promotion of human spiritual civilization. German Jagged Prime Minister Bismarck, founder of the German Communist Party Karl, Liebknecht and other politicians also graduated from the school. After entering the 20th century, the University of Berlin was even more prosperous, with 29 scholars winning the Nobel Prize. The University of Berlin has attracted many Chinese students to study, such as aesthetician Zong Baihua, philosopher Chen Kang, politicians Zhou Enlai and Zhang Junmai, historians Chen Yinke and Fu Sinian, physicist Wang Ganchang, meteorologist Lu Jiong and others. It has made important contributions to the development of Chinese history.
  After the “World War II”, Berlin was divided into two, and the University of Berlin was also divided into two. The old campus in the East Berlin GDR was renamed Humboldt University in honor of the Humboldt brothers. West Berlin Federal Germany created a new university, the Free University of Berlin. After decades of development and reform, the scale of Humboldt University has grown, and the number of students in the school has also increased significantly. Today, Humboldt University is continuing its former glory, and it still has strong strength in many fields such as philosophy, mathematics, biology, and medicine, attracting students from all over the world to pursue further studies.