The Mind Set Free

in Vienna in the Age of Uncertainty

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print August 2007 | ISBN: 9780226111728
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226111780 | DOI:
The Mind Set Free

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This chapter explores how young Franz Exner came to seek a model of a post-dogmatic mind. Franz Exner was a Gymnasium student during the calm and optimistic years after the defeat of Napoleon. He entered the University of Vienna to study philosophy in 1819. At the age of thirty, Exner was offered the chair of philosophy at the University of Prague. His classroom antics hinted at his concern with the field of pedagogical psychology, a focus of Johann Friedrich Herbart's. Herbart's psychology proposed Exner a model of the mind that appeared suited to the project of liberal education. Exner's embrace of the latest German philosophy only made his life in Prague more difficult. Furthermore, he developed a prominent new role for science and mathematics in the Gymnasium curriculum. As a component of the new Gymnasium curriculum, exercises in probabilistic reasoning would encourage students to view absolute claims skeptically.

Keywords: Franz Exner; Gymnasium; University of Vienna; German philosophy; University of Prague; liberal education; pedagogical psychology; probabilistic reasoning; Johann Friedrich Herbart

Chapter.  12802 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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