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1 November 2001 THE SCIENTIST AS WELTBÜRGER: ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT AND THE BEGINNING OF COSMOPOLITICS
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Abstract

Starting from Alexander von Humboldt's always ambivalent attitude towards Potsdam, the city which made him an honorary citizen and where he conceived large parts of his Cosmos, this contribution tries to show, through a broad analysis of Humboldt's early letters and later writings, the complex relation between world image and world travel, between science and cosmopolitanism. Humboldt's innovative concept of science, at the same time transdisciplinary and intercultural, connects in its ethical dimension with ideas of Immanuel Kant, as Kant had presented them in his “Idee zu einer allgemeinen Geschichte in weltbürgerlicher Absicht.” In this respect it becomes evident that the evolution of Humboldtian science is not possible without considering his understanding of cosmopolitanism, just as it is not possible to understand the specific kind of cosmopolitics which makes the Prussian scientist, author and intellectual an important connecting link for the actual definition of cosmopolitanism and cosmopolitics. The realization of world-wide communication networks between the most different sciences and scientists should, as the material infrastructure, be the presupposition of a global thinking which can be seen as part of a project of the (European) modernity. The biographical as well as the historical background of Alexander von Humboldt's deliberations should, however, not be forgotten.

Ottmar Ette "THE SCIENTIST AS WELTBÜRGER: ALEXANDER VON HUMBOLDT AND THE BEGINNING OF COSMOPOLITICS," Northeastern Naturalist 8(sp1), 157-182, (1 November 2001). https://doi.org/10.1656/1092-6194(2001)8[157:TSAWAV]2.0.CO;2
Published: 1 November 2001
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