This book on the German academy in the Wilhelmian and Weimar periods is a monument to scholarly craftsmanship, flawed only by the author’s infection with a disease similar to one he diagnoses in his subject—an excessive concern with pure Geist. Nevertheless, Ringer’s work is extremely valuable. Proceeding from Hans Rosenberg’s analysis of the Prussian bureaucracy in the eighteenth century and Karl Mannheim’s sociology of knowledge, Ringer defines a deeply conservativ...
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