Humboldt's Principles and the Reform of Contemporary University Cover Image
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Хумболтовите принципи и реформата на съвременния университет
Humboldt's Principles and the Reform of Contemporary University

Author(s): Hristo Todorov
Subject(s): Social Sciences
Published by: Фондация за хуманитарни и социални изследвания - София

Summary/Abstract: The article raises the questions whether the Berlin University, created in 1809 after the projects of Wilhelm von Humboldt, Schelling, Schleiermacher and Stefens, can serve as a norm and an ideal of contemporary university building, and how far the principles of its constitution can be followed nowadays. These questions stand in relation to the need of a university reform that has often been declared in Bulgaria and abroad. Since there is no clearly outlined idea of the university today, one that Humboldt and his fellows did have when setting off to create the Berlin University, the supposition is expressed that the careful examination of the history and achievements of their university reform could be of use in the search for orientation points for a future reform of the university. Further, the main principles are successively considered of the constitution of the Humboldt University: 1 ) the idea of science as a means of moral betterment of man; 2) the principle of unity of teaching and research; 3) the idea of 'pure science'; 4) the principle of 'freedom and solitude'. The philosophical, cognitive and institutional aspects of these principles are analyzed. The principles of Humboldt are discussed in relation to important historical circumstances of the creation of the Berlin University. It is stated that the central place among these principles belongs to the idea of 'pure science' since it guarantees their interrelation. In the second part of the article, a general evaluation is made of the model of the Humboldt University. Its basis here no longer are the principles of its constitution, taken in abstract, but the real developments in the nearly two hundred years of its history. From the point of view of the actual history of the university, the author seeks at evaluating the importance of Humboldt's university reform and to define the historical limits of Humboldt's university model. It is revealed that, in a number of important aspects, Humboldt's principles come into conflict with some mainstream contemporary tendencies in the development of the university. Finally, the conclusion is made that, in view of the contemporary state of universities, Humboldt's principles can no longer be maintained as norms, interrelated in one university idea, of the constitution and activity of the university. Since Humboldt's university belongs to the past, it cannot be accepted as an ideal for the future. A contemporary university reform should, rather than the return to the model of the university of the past, take as its goal the search for the place of the university in a coming quickly changing world. That is possible because in the past the university has proved many times its capacity of self-renovation.

  • Issue Year: 2000
  • Issue No: 08
  • Page Range: 39-53
  • Page Count: 15
  • Language: Bulgarian