Prussian Academy of Sciences

Prussian Academy of Sciences

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The Prussian Academy of Sciences was an academy
Academy
An academy is an institution of higher learning, research, or honorary membership.The name traces back to Plato's school of philosophy, founded approximately 385 BC at Akademia, a sanctuary of Athena, the goddess of wisdom and skill, north of Athens, Greece. In the western world academia is the...

 established in Berlin
Berlin
Berlin is the capital city of Germany and is one of the 16 states of Germany. With a population of 3.45 million people, Berlin is Germany's largest city. It is the second most populous city proper and the seventh most populous urban area in the European Union...

 on 11 July 1700, four years after the Akademie der Künste
Akademie der Künste
The Akademie der Künste, Berlin is an arts institution in Berlin, Germany. It was founded in 1696 by Elector Frederick III of Brandenburg as the Prussian Academy of Arts, an academic institution where members could meet and discuss and share ideas...

 or "Arts Academy", to which "Berlin Academy" may also refer.

Origins


Prince-elector
Prince-elector
The Prince-electors of the Holy Roman Empire were the members of the electoral college of the Holy Roman Empire, having the function of electing the Roman king or, from the middle of the 16th century onwards, directly the Holy Roman Emperor.The heir-apparent to a prince-elector was known as an...

 Frederick III
Frederick I of Prussia
Frederick I , of the Hohenzollern dynasty, was Elector of Brandenburg and Duke of Prussia in personal union . The latter function he upgraded to royalty, becoming the first King in Prussia . From 1707 he was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

 of Brandenburg
Brandenburg
Brandenburg is one of the sixteen federal-states of Germany. It lies in the east of the country and is one of the new federal states that were re-created in 1990 upon the reunification of the former West Germany and East Germany. The capital is Potsdam...

 founded the academy under the name of Kurfürstlich Brandenburgische Societät der Wissenschaften ("Electoral Brandenburg Society of Sciences") upon the advice of Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Leibniz
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He wrote in different languages, primarily in Latin , French and German ....

, who was appointed president. Unlike other academies, the Prussian Academy was not directly funded out of the state treasury. Frederick granted it the monopoly on producing and selling calendar
Calendar
A calendar is a system of organizing days for social, religious, commercial, or administrative purposes. This is done by giving names to periods of time, typically days, weeks, months, and years. The name given to each day is known as a date. Periods in a calendar are usually, though not...

s in Brandenburg, a suggestion by Leibniz. As Frederick was crowned "King in Prussia
King in Prussia
King in Prussia was a title used by the Electors of Brandenburg from 1701 to 1772. Subsequently they used the title King of Prussia....

" in 1701, creating the Kingdom of Prussia
Kingdom of Prussia
The Kingdom of Prussia was a German kingdom from 1701 to 1918. Until the defeat of Germany in World War I, it comprised almost two-thirds of the area of the German Empire...

, the academy was renamed Königlich Preußische Sozietät der Wissenschaften ("Royal Prussian Society of Sciences"). While other academies focused on a few topics, the Prussian Academy was the first to teach both sciences and humanities. In 1710, the academy statute was set, dividing the academy in two sciences and two humanities classes. This was not changed until 1830, when the physics-mathematics and the philosophy-history classes replaced the four old classes.

Frederick the Great


The reign of King Frederick II
Frederick II of Prussia
Frederick II was a King in Prussia and a King of Prussia from the Hohenzollern dynasty. In his role as a prince-elector of the Holy Roman Empire, he was also Elector of Brandenburg. He was in personal union the sovereign prince of the Principality of Neuchâtel...

 ("Frederick the Great") saw major changes to the academy. In 1744, the Nouvelle Société Littéraire and the Society of Sciences were merged into the Königliche Akademie der Wissenschaften ("Royal Academy of Sciences"). An obligation from the new statute were public calls for ideas on unsolved scientific questions with a monetary reward for solutions. The academy acquired its own research facilities in the 18th century: an observatory
Observatory
An observatory is a location used for observing terrestrial or celestial events. Astronomy, climatology/meteorology, geology, oceanography and volcanology are examples of disciplines for which observatories have been constructed...

 in 1709, an anatomical theater in 1717, a Collegium medico-chirurgicum in 1723, a botanical garden
Botanical garden
A botanical garden The terms botanic and botanical, and garden or gardens are used more-or-less interchangeably, although the word botanic is generally reserved for the earlier, more traditional gardens. is a well-tended area displaying a wide range of plants labelled with their botanical names...

 in 1718, and a laboratory
Laboratory
A laboratory is a facility that provides controlled conditions in which scientific research, experiments, and measurement may be performed. The title of laboratory is also used for certain other facilities where the processes or equipment used are similar to those in scientific laboratories...

 in 1753. However, those were taken over by the University of Berlin
Humboldt University of Berlin
The Humboldt University of Berlin is Berlin's oldest university, founded in 1810 as the University of Berlin by the liberal Prussian educational reformer and linguist Wilhelm von Humboldt, whose university model has strongly influenced other European and Western universities...



Aarsleff notes that before Frederick came to the throne in 1740, the Academy was overshadowed by similar bodies in London and Paris. Frederick made French the official language and speculative philosophy the most important topic of study. The membership was strong in mathematics and philosophy and included Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

, Jean D'Alembert, Pierre-Louis de Maupertuis, and Etienne de Condillac. However the Academy was in a crisis for two decades at mid-century, due to scandals and internal rivalries such as the debates between Newtonianism and Leibnizian views, and the personality conflict between Voltaire and Maupertuis. At a higher level Maupertuis, the director 1746-59 and a monarchist, argued that the action of individuals was shaped by the character of the institution that contained them, and they worked for the glory of the state. By contrast d' Alembert took a republican rather than monarchical approach and emphasized the international Republic of Letters
Republic of Letters
Republic of Letters is most commonly used to define intellectual communities in the late 17th and 18th century in Europe and America. It especially brought together the intellectuals of Age of Enlightenment, or "philosophes" as they were called in France...

 as the vehicle for scientific advance. By 1789, however, the academy had gained an international repute while making major contributions to German culture and thought. Frederick invited Joseph-Louis Lagrange to succeed Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler
Leonhard Euler was a pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist. He made important discoveries in fields as diverse as infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. He also introduced much of the modern mathematical terminology and notation, particularly for mathematical analysis, such as the notion...

 as director; both were world-class mathematicians. Other intellectuals attracted to the philosopher's kingdom were Francesco Algarotti
Francesco Algarotti
Count Francesco Algarotti was an Italian philosopher and art critic.He also completed engravings.He was born in Venice to a rich merchant. He studied at Rome for a year, and then Bologna, he studied natural sciences and mathematics...

, d'Argens
Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d'Argens
Jean-Baptiste de Boyer, Marquis d'Argens was a French philosopher and writer.An arch-opponent of the Catholic Church, intolerance and religious oppression, he had to flee his native France and his books were frequently denounced by the Inquisition...

, and Julien Offray de La Mettrie
Julien Offray de La Mettrie
Julien Offray de La Mettrie was a French physician and philosopher, and one of the earliest of the French materialists of the Enlightenment...

. Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant
Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

 published religious writings in Berlin which would have been censored elsewhere in Europe.

19th century


Beginning in 1815, research businesses led by academy committees (such as the Greek-Roman Archeology Committee or the Oriental Committee) were founded at the academy. They employed mostly scientists to work alongside the corresponding committee's members. University departments emanated from some of these businesses after 1945.

20th century


Under Nazi rule
Nazi Germany
Nazi Germany , also known as the Third Reich , but officially called German Reich from 1933 to 1943 and Greater German Reich from 26 June 1943 onward, is the name commonly used to refer to the state of Germany from 1933 to 1945, when it was a totalitarian dictatorship ruled by...

 (1933–1945), the academy was subject to the Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung
Gleichschaltung , meaning "coordination", "making the same", "bringing into line", is a Nazi term for the process by which the Nazi regime successively established a system of totalitarian control and tight coordination over all aspects of society. The historian Richard J...

: Jewish employees and members were expelled. The new academy statute went in effect on 8 June 1939, reorganizing the academy according to the Nazi leader principle
Führerprinzip
The Führerprinzip , German for "leader principle", prescribes the fundamental basis of political authority in the governmental structures of the Third Reich...

.

Following World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, the Soviet Military Administration in Germany
Soviet Military Administration in Germany
The Soviet Military Administration in Germany was the Soviet military government, headquartered in Berlin-Karlshorst, that directly ruled the Soviet occupation zone of Germany from the German surrender in May 1945 until after the establishment of the German Democratic Republic in October...

 reorganized the academy under the name of Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften ("German Academy of Sciences") on 1 July 1946. In 1972, it was renamed Akademie der Wissenschaften der DDR
German Academy of Sciences Berlin
The German Academy of Sciences at Berlin , later renamed Academy of Sciences of the German Democratic Republic was the most important research institution of East Germany.The academy was founded in 1946 by the Soviet Military Administration in Germany to continue the long tradition of the...

(literally GDR
German Democratic Republic
The German Democratic Republic , informally called East Germany by West Germany and other countries, was a socialist state established in 1949 in the Soviet zone of occupied Germany, including East Berlin of the Allied-occupied capital city...

 Academy of Sciences). This academy was disbanded and the Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften ("Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities
The Berlin-Brandenburgische Akademie der Wissenschaften is the academy of sciences of the German states Berlin and Brandenburg. As the word "Wissenschaft", in German includes both the natural sciences and the humanities, the academy's title is best translated as Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of...

") was founded in compliance with the 1992 treaty between the Länder
States of Germany
Germany is made up of sixteen which are partly sovereign constituent states of the Federal Republic of Germany. Land literally translates as "country", and constitutionally speaking, they are constituent countries...

Berlin and Brandenburg. 60 of the GDR academy's members created the Leibniz Society in 1993.

Notable members

  • Dimitrie Cantemir
    Dimitrie Cantemir
    Dimitrie Cantemir was twice Prince of Moldavia . He was also a prolific man of letters – philosopher, historian, composer, musicologist, linguist, ethnographer, and geographer....

    , foreign member 1714
  • Leonhard Euler
    Leonhard Euler
    Leonhard Euler was a pioneering Swiss mathematician and physicist. He made important discoveries in fields as diverse as infinitesimal calculus and graph theory. He also introduced much of the modern mathematical terminology and notation, particularly for mathematical analysis, such as the notion...

     1741–1766
  • Montesquieu
    Charles de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu
    Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu , generally referred to as simply Montesquieu, was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the Enlightenment...

    , foreign member 1746
  • Denis Diderot
    Denis Diderot
    Denis Diderot was a French philosopher, art critic, and writer. He was a prominent person during the Enlightenment and is best known for serving as co-founder and chief editor of and contributor to the Encyclopédie....

    , foreign member 1751
  • Johann Heinrich Lambert
    Johann Heinrich Lambert
    Johann Heinrich Lambert was a Swiss mathematician, physicist, philosopher and astronomer.Asteroid 187 Lamberta was named in his honour.-Biography:...

    , ~1763
  • Immanuel Kant
    Immanuel Kant
    Immanuel Kant was a German philosopher from Königsberg , researching, lecturing and writing on philosophy and anthropology at the end of the 18th Century Enlightenment....

    , foreign member 1786
  • Voltaire
    Voltaire
    François-Marie Arouet , better known by the pen name Voltaire , was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, free trade and separation of church and state...

    , ~1750
  • Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
    Gotthold Ephraim Lessing
    Gotthold Ephraim Lessing was a German writer, philosopher, dramatist, publicist, and art critic, and one of the most outstanding representatives of the Enlightenment era. His plays and theoretical writings substantially influenced the development of German literature...

    , foreign member 1769
  • Friedrich Schleiermacher, proper member 1810
  • Hermann von Helmholtz
    Hermann von Helmholtz
    Hermann Ludwig Ferdinand von Helmholtz was a German physician and physicist who made significant contributions to several widely varied areas of modern science...

    , corresponding member 1857; foreign member 1870; proper member 1871
  • Ferdinand Georg Frobenius
    Ferdinand Georg Frobenius
    Ferdinand Georg Frobenius was a German mathematician, best known for his contributions to the theory of differential equations and to group theory...

    , proper member 1893
  • Max Planck
    Max Planck
    Max Karl Ernst Ludwig Planck, ForMemRS, was a German physicist who actualized the quantum physics, initiating a revolution in natural science and philosophy. He is regarded as the founder of the quantum theory, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1918.-Life and career:Planck came...

    , proper member 1894
  • Alexander Stuart Murray, corresponding member 1900
  • Albert Einstein
    Albert Einstein
    Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

    , proper member 1914
  • Kurt Sethe
    Kurt Heinrich Sethe
    Kurt Heinrich Sethe was a noted German Egyptologist and philologist from Berlin. He was a student of Adolf Erman...

    , corresponding member 1920; proper member 1930
  • Hermann Grapow
    Hermann Grapow
    Hermann Grapow was a German Egyptologist.-Works:*Wörterbuch der ägyptischen Sprache, 7 Bände, Berlin, 1925 ff.*Anatomie und Physiologie, Berlin, 1954...

    , proper member 1938