David Salomon

8 December 2015


The idea of the university in Germany is closely connected to Wilhelm von Humboldt’s “Neuhumanismus” and his conception of “Bildung”. According to this classical idea of the university, the freedom of “Wissenschaft” implies political reticence, whilst at the same time being understood as a liberation from considerations of immediate economic effectiveness. This conception of education, however, has become obsolete under Neoliberalism, if it was not already so: and the question thus arises, whether or not it is at all possible for civil society in the neoliberal era to keep the idea of the university alive. In this talk, I shall offer an answer to this question, by arguing that whilst the idea that informs contemporary universities is mundane capital realisation, what should – and still can — inform them is the persistent politicisation of “Wissenschaft”.


David Salomon is Professor of Political Education at the University of Siegen, Germany. His academic and political interests include theories of democracy, the idea of the intellectual, the new imperialism and political aesthetics. His most recent book is Demokratie (Köln: Papy Rossa Verlag 2012) and he is a regular contributor to public debate.



The David Watson Memorial Lecture Series, 2015 – 2016, What Should Universities Be?

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