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Humanistic Bildung: regulative idea or empty concept?


Reichenbach, Roland (2014). Humanistic Bildung: regulative idea or empty concept? Asia Pacific Education Review, 15(1):65-70.

Abstract

The article focuses on the notion and humanistic ideal of self-cultivation and self-transformation, for which the term Bildung is/was traditionally used in German educational thought. It is argued that the idea of Bildung, understood as human development and end-in-itself, is not a German exclusivity. However, to understand the specificity of the notion, it may be necessary to consider that German Enlightenment—Aufklärung—in which the term gained a lot of importance, came later in history than French, English, and Scottish Enlightenment. Whereas in the early Western Enlightenment period, freedom was understood as an outward, definitely political concept, in later German Enlightenment the predominant understanding of freedom was characterized by a rather aesthetic dimension, not outward but internal freedom. The shift from a political understanding of Enlightenment—like in France, and also England or Scotland—to German inwardness (“Innerlichkeit”), as realized by the concept of Bildung, can be—at least to a certain degree—interpreted as a desire of German intellectuals at the time to escape from a brutal and on the whole disappointing post-revolutionary world to a place where man could seek secular perfection: an escape toward inwardness.

The article focuses on the notion and humanistic ideal of self-cultivation and self-transformation, for which the term Bildung is/was traditionally used in German educational thought. It is argued that the idea of Bildung, understood as human development and end-in-itself, is not a German exclusivity. However, to understand the specificity of the notion, it may be necessary to consider that German Enlightenment—Aufklärung—in which the term gained a lot of importance, came later in history than French, English, and Scottish Enlightenment. Whereas in the early Western Enlightenment period, freedom was understood as an outward, definitely political concept, in later German Enlightenment the predominant understanding of freedom was characterized by a rather aesthetic dimension, not outward but internal freedom. The shift from a political understanding of Enlightenment—like in France, and also England or Scotland—to German inwardness (“Innerlichkeit”), as realized by the concept of Bildung, can be—at least to a certain degree—interpreted as a desire of German intellectuals at the time to escape from a brutal and on the whole disappointing post-revolutionary world to a place where man could seek secular perfection: an escape toward inwardness.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Education
Dewey Decimal Classification:370 Education
Language:English
Date:2014
Deposited On:19 Jan 2015 08:18
Last Modified:26 May 2016 08:13
Publisher:Springer
ISSN:1598-1037
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1007/s12564-013-9298-1
Related URLs:http://www.springer.com/de/ (Publisher)

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