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1 Introduction: Academic Self-criticism in the Early Modern Period

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Chapter Summary

This is the introductory chapter of the book The Vices of Learning, which sets out to answer a seemingly simple question: What constituted scholarly vices in the late Baroque and early Enlightenment periods? The question arises from the curious fact that moral criticism of the learned was a favourite theme of academic dissertations, polemical tracts and satires written in Germany ca. 1670-1730. Vices and errors of the learned were dealt with in numerous Latin dissertations as well as in philosophical and theological treatises, which proclaimed a set of vices that often included, at the very least, philautia (self-love) and ambition. Works on scholarly pride, quarrelling, bad manners, plagiarism and other vices kept the presses running at the Protestant universities of Leipzig, Jena and Königsberg as well as farther north. Thus, social and moral criticism of the stereotyped image of a scholar was combined with scientific criticism.

Keywords: early Modern Period; Jena; Königsberg; Leipzig; polemical tracts; Protestant universities; scholarly vices; self-criticism



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