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Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany$
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Andrew Zimmerman

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780226983417

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226983462.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CHICAGO SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.chicago.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Chicago Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CHSO for personal use.date: 20 October 2019

A German Republic of Science and a German Idea of Truth: Empiricism and Sociability in Anthropology

A German Republic of Science and a German Idea of Truth: Empiricism and Sociability in Anthropology

Chapter:
(p.111) Chapter 5 A German Republic of Science and a German Idea of Truth: Empiricism and Sociability in Anthropology
Source:
Anthropology and Antihumanism in Imperial Germany
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226983462.003.0006

The German Anthropological Society and its local branches were not merely institutions in which anthropologists conducted their new science but also organizations realizing political goals that had been thwarted in the founding of the German Empire in 1871. This was true above all for Rudolf Virchow, the leader of the German and the Berlin Anthropological Societies, who had been directly involved in the Prussian parliament during the constitutional crisis that had defined the structures of German politics in the last third of the nineteenth century. The comparative, empiricist project of anthropology fragmented the autonomous knowing subject and provided an antiauthoritarian model of knowledge and politics. Anthropologists contrasted their own empiricist, social forms of knowledge with what they perceived to be the authoritarian structure of philosophy, in which, they imagined, a lone thinker issued dictates unchecked by facts. A tradition of associating natural scientific empiricism and political liberalism informed the project of the founders of German anthropology.

Keywords:   empiricism, sociability, German anthropology, political goals, social forms, liberalism

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