Article ID: CBB001220357

Wilhelm von Humboldts frihet som epigenetisk bildning (2006)


Fareld, Victoria (Author)

Pages: 30-45

Publication Date: 2006
Edition Details: Translated title: [Wilhelm von Humboldt's Freedom as Epigenetic Self-Cultivation]
Language: Swedish

Wilhelm von Humboldt's freedom as epigenetic self-cultivation. By Victoria Fareld. This article examines the complex notion of freedom in the first major work of the German philosopher and Prussian government functionary Wilhelm von Humboldt (1767--1835), Ideen zu einem Versuch, die Gränzen der Wirksamkeit des Staats zu bestimmen from 1792 (On the limits of state action). As Humboldt in this work advocates minimal state intervention as a condition for individual self-realization, he is often considered as a proponent of what Isaiah Berlin in the 1950s characterized as negative liberty, that is liberty as independence and non- interference. I am arguing that Berlin's distinction between negative and positive liberty conceals more than it reveals when applied to Humboldt's thinking. By seeing Humboldt's idea of freedom in the light of the late eighteenth-century theory of epigenesis, according to which evolution is an unpredictable and successive self-generation, I am showing the intricate entwinement in Humboldt's philosophy between freedom as non-interference and independence and freedom as successive development and self- realization; a realization whose ultimate conditions have to be secured by the state. Epigenetic ideas became vital elements in German Idealism and crucial components in the idea of Bildung as an individual process of cultivating a unique personality, which by Humboldt becomes a concern of the state and an object for regulations and standardizations. Seeing his idea of freedom as an epigenetic process of self-cultivation, I claim, makes apparent the double role which he ascribes to the state, which should motivate a more nuanced reading of Ideen.


Description Looks at Humboldt's idea of freedom in the light of the late eighteenth-century theory of epigenesis.

Citation URI

Similar Citations

Article Luca Chiapperino; Francesco Panese; (2021)
On the traces of the biosocial: Historicizing “plasticity” in contemporary epigenetics (/isis/citation/CBB820144208/)

Book Heinz-Elmar Tenorth; (2018)
Wilhelm von Humboldt: Bildungspolitik und Universitätsreform (/isis/citation/CBB243055436/)

Book Josephson, Peter; (2014)
The Humboldtian Tradition: Origins and Legacies (/isis/citation/CBB001213945/)

Chapter Maria Enrica D'Agostini; (2003)
J.W. Goethe, Alexander e Wihelm von Humboldt in un foglio di laboratorio (/isis/citation/CBB490594438/)

Book Claudio Greppi; (2021)
Tracce di Humboldt. Osservare, descrivere, misurare (/isis/citation/CBB352822029/)

Article Gaspare Polizzi; (2010)
"E pur si muove!". Il Galilei di Frisi, Leopardi e Rosini fra illuminismo e liberalismo (/isis/citation/CBB840111590/)

Book Erik L. Peterson; (2017)
The Life Organic: The Theoretical Biology Club and the Roots of Epigenetics (/isis/citation/CBB675901053/)

Essay Review Tatjana Buklijas; (2018)
Life Reconsidered (/isis/citation/CBB581106067/)

Chapter Heinz, Ulrich von; (2003)
Die Brüder Wilhelm und Alexander von Humboldt (/isis/citation/CBB000800262/)

Article Andreev, A. Iu.; (2003)
Gumbol'dtovskaia model' klassicheskogo nemetskogo universiteta (/isis/citation/CBB000321031/)

Article Eichler, Martin; (2012)
Die Wahrheit des Mythos Humboldt (/isis/citation/CBB001231407/)

Article Ruprecht Mattig; (2020)
Ethnography and liberty: a new look at the anthropological work of Wilhelm von Humboldt (/isis/citation/CBB193329325/)

Book Diana Pérez Edelman; (2021)
Embryology and the Rise of the Gothic Novel (/isis/citation/CBB358889650/)

Book Siegert, Bernhard; (2003)
Passage des digitalen: Zeichenpraktiken der neuzeitlichen Wissenschaften 1500--1900 (/isis/citation/CBB001180117/)

Authors & Contributors
Andreev, A. Iu.
Chiapperino, Luca
Panese, Francesco
Schwinges, Rainer Christoph
Jost, Kathrin
Staub, Nicole
Journal of the History of Biology
Novaia i noveishaia istoriia
Otechestvennaia istoriia
Intellectual History Review
Historische Zeitschrift
History and Anthropology
Brinkmann & Bose
Schoeningh Ferdinand
Asterios Editore
Springer Nature
Universities and colleges
Science and society
Science education and teaching
Humboldt, Wilhelm von
Humboldt, Alexander von
Kant, Immanuel
Herder, Johann Gottfried
Baltzer, Fritz
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century
16th century
17th century
Latin America

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment