Talk:Wilhelm von Humboldt

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
This article has been mentioned by a media organization:
  • David Auerbach (2012-07-05). "The Stupidity of Computers". n+1. Retrieved 2012-08-06. Wilhelm von Humboldt is listed under “German linguists,” “German philosophers,” “Christian philosophers,” “classical liberals,” “people from Potsdam,” and several others, but not as a classicist, an anthropologist, a literary critic, or a philologist.  (details)


A recent edit inserted "European" in the statement "Humboldt is credited with being the first European linguist to identify human language as a rule-governed system." Just the first European linguist? Who is the non-European who beat him to it? --Wetman 23:39, 19 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Pāṇini. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 4 July 2005 15:49 (UTC)

Oh. Then every grammarian in Antiquity and the Middle Ages identified human language as a rule-governed system, and the statement is rendered vacuous. Can someone determine what is Humboldt's advance over Pāṇini et al and edit in in? Let us make an assessment that has some content. --Wetman 4 July 2005 20:31 (UTC)

AFAIK European linguists up to Humboldt's time hadn't heard of Pāṇini, so no, they didn't identify human language as a rule-governed system. As I understand it, Humboldt came up with the idea on his own, and only later did European linguists figure out that Pāṇini had beaten him to it by a couple of millennia. --Angr/tɔk tə mi 4 July 2005 22:09 (UTC)

The title Freiherr[edit]

Actually Alexander (and Wilhelm) von Humboldt did not carry the title Freiherr. They used this name for themselves but the family got the title from the emperor Wilhelm I. not before 1875. Before 1806 the title had to come from the emperor of the Holy Roman Empire and there is no record of this. It is also not reasonable that a Habsburgian emperor (at that time) may have given the title to a Prussian. Christian Jaeh (talk) 18:51, 6 September 2012 (UTC)

Data mining[edit]

The German version of this article is rather more advanced... --- Charles Stewart 18:44, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)

Translations of the relevant parts of it, edited into this article, would make a great improvement. --Wetman 22:15, 14 Jun 2005 (UTC)


"This idea is one of the foundations of Noam Chomsky's theory of language." I find it difficult to understand why Humboldt should be valued by the fact that Chomsky reffered to his ideas. This implies that Chomsky has a much more important role in linguistics than he really does. His paradigm has been surpassed; by Integralism, for example.

The point is that Humboldt's impact on linguistics should not be assessed via Chomsky. It should either be objective, or, if refferences must be made, they should be to all paradigms Humboldt influenced.

I don't agree that Chomsky's paradigm has been "surpassed", since there is still plenty of research going on within a Chomskian framework. (In fact, there is probably far more Chomskian research than there is Integralist research. That small quantity of work within Integrationism which is available on the internet seems to consist mainly of long diatribes against everything that isn't Integrationism, attempts to show that every other approach is some variant of Sassurianism, and vague programmatic rhetoric which makes no contribution to our understanding of anything within linguistics -- sorry, just had to vent). Anyway, I agreee that we shouldn't assess Humboldt's ideas in terms of Chomsky's theories, but I don't think the article is doing that. Chomsky is partly responsible for the fact that Humboldt is still well known, and a sentence or two mentioning that Chomsky was influenced by Humboldt doesn't seem out of place to me. Cadr 12:25, 24 June 2006 (UTC)
I also agree that the Chomsky reference is just fine. It is important to understand the way in which the work of a particular intellectual lives on, for better or worse, in the work and lives of other scholars, living or dead. In fact, another reference to Chomsky on this page wouldn't bother me, namely that Humboldt's theories of classical liberalism are also cited by Chomsky as a deep influence. Chomsky uses numerous passages from Humboldt's writings to argue and justify his own political worldview. Looks like good ol' Willie has at least one fan. (talk) 03:41, 9 April 2008 (UTC)

Wheres Humboldts works?[edit]

I couldnt find almost anything from Humboldt himself on the web. I´ve searched google and . Anyone could help me?


Why does it say German, when every other person who has a article born in this age from the provinces of the Kingdom of Prussia says Prussian. There were no German nationality back then. He was a Prussian diplomat and even a Prussian minister, but not German. comment added by Wis (talkcontribs) 09:57, 15 July 2011 (UTC)

Prussians were mostly German... (talk) 10:41, 24 November 2015 (UTC)

Auerbach on bad categorization[edit]

See the note above in the "mentioned by a media organization" template. Thought I might leave this note here as well. I'm not familiar with the subject, so I won't endeavor to resolve the issue. Leonxlin (talk) 03:56, 7 August 2012 (UTC)

Friend of Danilo Stojanovic[edit]

The phrase 'Friend of Danilo Stojanovic' appears to be an orphan phrase, disconnected from the preceding text and from the subsequent text. And our article on Danilo Stojanovic seems to be unrelated to Wilhelm von Humboldt. Should the phrase be removed? IjonTichyIjonTichy (talk) 19:04, 14 September 2012 (UTC)

Improvement of the Article - The Divide between the Universities and the Political System[edit]

I think the article can be improved on the important topic of "The Divide between the Universities and the Political System" that has numerous significant implications. Given his work The Sphere and Duties of Government (The Limits of State Action) (1854 ed.) [1792] and the SEP of Stanford, , second paragraph. Cheers! (talk) 08:05, 26 March 2013 (UTC)

The exact text can be no other than this, from its Chapter VIII, "Amelioration of Morals", "If now, in addition to this, we bring forward the principles before unfolded, which disapprove of all State agency directed to positive aims, and which apply here with especial force, since it is precisely the moral man who feels every restriction most deeply; reflecting, further, that if there is one aspect of development more than any other which owes its highest beauty to freedom, this is precisely the culture of character and morals; then the justice of the following principle will be sufficiently manifest, viz. that the State must wholly refrain from every attempt to operate directly or indirectly on the morals and character of the nation, otherwise than as such a policy may become inevitable as a natural consequence of its other absolutely necessary measures; and that everything calculated to promote such a design, and particularly all special supervision of education, religion, sumptuary laws, etc., lies wholly outside the limits of its legitimate activity." and that this constitutes the very divide we live with today that separates State and the Universities, necessarily, today. Hurray for history, celebrations for W. v. Humboldt more! (talk) 04:49, 27 March 2013 (UTC)

Critique in last paragraph of Minister of Education section doesn't belong[edit]

The paragraph beginning "In the original text from which this section has been lifted without attribution..." explaining the reference system used in this section is hardly appropriate to the section. A hyperlink in each reference to the original in the References should be sufficient, or a note in the references at the bottom of the page is more appropriate, removing the author's irritable "from which this section has been lifted without attribution." Very well, thanks for adding attribution. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Bluespapa (talkcontribs) 02:02, 28 September 2014 (UTC)


There are two paragraphs lionizing someone called "Underhill" as a scholar carrying on Von Humbolt's work. Whenever I see two paragraphs about a scholar I don't know in a Wikipedia article about another scholar or topic, I begin to suspect that the scholar or his students have been editing. Someone might want to look into that. (talk) 23:50, 4 March 2015 (UTC)