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Wissenschaft is the German language term for any study that involves systematic research. The term is sometimes roughly translated as science, although Wissenschaft is much broader and includes every systematic academic study of any area, for example, humanities like art or religion.[1] Wissenschaft incorporates scientific and non-scientific inquiry, learning, knowledge, scholarship and implies that knowledge is a dynamic process discoverable for oneself, rather than something that is handed down. It did not necessarily imply empirical research.

Wissenschaft was the official ideology of German universities during the 19th century, and it led to the development of the modern research university.[2] It emphasized the unity of teaching and individual research or discovery by the student, the Einheit von Lehre und Forschung. It suggests that education is a process of growing and becoming.

Some 19th-century Americans visiting German universities interpreted Wissenschaft as meaning "pure science," untainted by social purposes and opposed to the liberal arts.[3]

Some contemporary scientists and philosophers interpret Wissenschaft as meaning any true knowledge or successful method, including philosophical, mathematical, and logical knowledge and methods.[4]


Before Immanuel Kant published his Critique of Judgment in 1790, the "schöne Wissenshaft" (roughly, "fine sciences") were highly regarded.[2] The "schöne Wissenshaft" included poetry, rhetoric, and other subjects that were meant to promote an understanding of truth, beauty, and goodness.[2] Kant argued persuasively that aesthetic judgments were not an area of systematic knowledge, and therefore were outside the realm of Wissenschaft.[2]

See also[edit]

Phrases employing this term include the following:


  1. ^ Hansson, Sven Ove (2017). Zalta, Edward N., ed. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Summer 2017 ed.). Metaphysics Research Lab, Stanford University.
  2. ^ a b c d Bommel, Bas van (2015-12-14). "Between 'Bildung' and 'Wissenschaft': The 19th-Century German Ideal of Scientific Education German Education and Science". Europäische Geschichte Online. Retrieved 2018-04-29.
  3. ^ Veysay, Laurence R. The Emergency of the American University. Chicago: U Chicago P, 1965. Print. 127.
  4. ^ "Our Narrow Definition of "Science"". www.samharris.org. Retrieved 2016-03-04.

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