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1 - The cultural inheritance

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

A. W. Carus
Affiliation:
University of Cambridge
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Summary

Among the words it is impossible to translate from German, Bildung occupies a time-honoured place as one of the most enigmatic. Depending on the context, it can mean ‘education’ (or ‘educatedness’), ‘formation’, ‘culture’, ‘shaping’, or ‘development’. Used abstractly and generally, it means something like ‘personal development’ or ‘self-cultivation’ (Bruford 1975), with an emphasis on mental (or spiritual) dimensions of development. It has a centrality among German-speakers that has no direct parallel in other European cultures; especially its emphasis on inner and personal, rather than worldly and social, development is hard to convey outside the German context. Though it has been much eroded, this orientation is not entirely gone, and the vestiges that remain can remind us how much more pervasive and unquestioned such ideals would have been to a sensitive and intellectually inclined German boy growing up a century ago.

In Carnap's case, Bildung was even more central than to others of his generation, for educational thought was in the family. His grandfather Friedrich Wilhelm Dörpfeld (1824–93) was a well-known educational thinker, whose writings still belong to the canon of German educational classics. Dörpfeld's eldest daughter Anna, Carnap's mother, wrote a memoir of his life. Carnap's autobiography begins with a recollection of watching his mother write this book.

It will be argued here that Carnap's entire philosophical project can best be understood within this specifically German cultural context.

Type
Chapter
Information
Carnap and Twentieth-Century Thought
Explication as Enlightenment
, pp. 41 - 64
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2007

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  • The cultural inheritance
  • A. W. Carus, University of Cambridge
  • Book: Carnap and Twentieth-Century Thought
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511487132.004
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  • The cultural inheritance
  • A. W. Carus, University of Cambridge
  • Book: Carnap and Twentieth-Century Thought
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511487132.004
Available formats
×

Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • The cultural inheritance
  • A. W. Carus, University of Cambridge
  • Book: Carnap and Twentieth-Century Thought
  • Online publication: 22 September 2009
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511487132.004
Available formats
×