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The Halle Orphanage as Scientific Community

Observation, Eclecticism, and Pietism in the Early Enlightenment

Kelly Joan Whitmer

The Halle Orphanage as Scientific Community

Kelly Joan Whitmer

200 pages | 22 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2015
Cloth $40.00 ISBN: 9780226243771 Published May 2015
E-book $7.00 to $40.00 About E-books ISBN: 9780226243801 Published May 2015
Founded around 1700 by a group of German Lutherans known as Pietists, the Halle Orphanage became the institutional headquarters of a universal seminar that still stands largely intact today.  It was the base of an educational, charitable, and scientific community and consisted of an elite school for the sons of noblemen; schools for the sons of artisans, soldiers, and preachers; a hospital; an apothecary; a bookshop; a botanical garden; and a cabinet of curiosity containing architectural models, naturalia, and scientific instruments. Yet, its reputation as a Pietist enclave inhabited largely by young people has prevented the organization from being taken seriously as a kind of scientific academy—even though, Kelly Joan Whitmer shows, this is precisely what it was. 

The Halle Orphanage as Scientific Community calls into question a long-standing tendency to view German Pietists as anti-science and anti-Enlightenment, arguing that these tendencies have drawn attention away from what was actually going on inside the orphanage. Whitmer shows how the orphanage’s identity as a scientific community hinged on its promotion of philosophical eclecticism as a tool for assimilating perspectives and observations and working to perfect one’s abilities to observe methodically. Because of the link between eclecticism and observation, Whitmer reveals, those teaching and training in Halle’s Orphanage contributed to the transformation of scientific observation and its related activities in this period.
Contents
1 Introducing the Orphanage
2 Building a Scientific Community
3 Negotiating the Irenical Turn
4 Models and Conciliatory Seeing
5 An Observator and His Instrument
6 Extending the Orphanage
Acknowledgments
Notes
Bibliography
Index
Review Quotes
Justin Grosslight | Arts Fuse
"By underscoring the virtues of eclecticism and its Pietist roots, Whitmer has taken discussion of the early relationship between science and religion to a new level. . . . Via meticulous scholarship and fabulous illustrations, she explores, with nuance, how religious and intellectual energies intertwined in ways that galvanized mathematical practice. By highlighting the interplay among individual beliefs, actions, and scientific achievements, her book resuscitates the careers of such understudied figures as Francke, Wolff, and Leibniz in history of science scholarship. Readers curious about the evolution of scientific culture should cherish this book’s revelatory spotlight on an important niche in the Enlightenment."
Carla Nappi | New Books in Science, Technology, and Society
"Whitmer's new book offers a history of science set in the Halle Orphanage, a building that was founded in the middle of the 1690s in the Prussian city of Halle by a group of German Lutherans known as Pietists. . . . As the fascinating story unfolds, Whitmer's account meaningfully contributes to histories of observation, material culture, models and modeling, and education."
Joanna Geyer-Kordesch, University of Glasgow
"Modernism takes many forms; what many of us thought was a credit to Pietism of the Franke school turns out to be an amalgam of differentiated Enlightenment thought. I strongly recommend reading this book and rethinking the issues."
Andre Wakefield, Pitzer College
"Whitmer approaches Halle's orphanage as a scientific institution, placing it at the center of the early German Enlightenment. In doing so, she tells a vital and largely neglected story that fundamentally challenges common notions about the divide between the scientific and the sacred in the early modern era. This is a fascinating book with unexpected implications for the present."
For more information, or to order this book, please visit http://www.press.uchicago.edu
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