Chapter

Citizens of the Most Probable State

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.7208/chicago/9780226111780.003.0008
Citizens of the Most Probable State

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This chapter discusses the politics of learning in 1908. By 1907, three political groups had launched separate assaults on the education system that had flourished under liberal control since the days of the first Franz Exner. Against competing conceptions of childhood, the Exners waged a concerted defense of the pedagogical value of freedom. It is shown that the ethical status of uncertainty demarcated Austrian liberals from their domestic political opponents to the left and right. The cosmic theory that Serafin Exner treated so gingerly in this chapter was the nebular hypothesis, first proposed by Laplace at the end of the eighteenth century. The events of 1907–9 forced the Exners to be explicit about what they meant by “freedom.” In 1908, the Exners seized opportunities to apply the lessons of their utopian experiment at Brunnwinkl to the empire at large.

Keywords: politics of learning; Franz Exner; Serafin Exner; Austrian liberals; cosmic theory; freedom; Brunnwinkl

Chapter.  11544 words. 

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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