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Carl Ritter's early geographic thought (1779-1817)

Boettcher, Walter Eric; (1990) Carl Ritter's early geographic thought (1779-1817). Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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The German geographer Carl Ritter (1779-1859) created a new geographical science by applying the logical structure of eighteenth-century German educational psychology to the encyclopedic body of existing geographical knowledge. He expanded the domain of Geography by including physical deterministic forces to explain cultural variation, and applied historical linguistic analysis to derive useful information from classical, medievel and contemporary geographic texts. His general comparative methodology is not well understood by geographers today because his logical diction is unfamiliar. His scientific vocabulary is adopted from eighteenth-century theories of knowledge (Erkennmistheorie), especially brightness theory (Helligkeitstheorie). The sources of Ritter's pedagogic and scientific thought include: the Salzmann Institute in Schnepfenthal where he was educated in accordance with the principles of Rousseau and Basedow; Halle University where he studied Kantian logic, Leibniz-Wolffian aesthetics, and the new logical foundations of natural science, philology and pedagogy; and his own independent study as a private tutor in Frankfurt-am-Main where he deepened his knowledge of science and pedagogy by discussions with many eminent scientists and pedagogues. His meetings with J.H. Pestalozzi and Alexander von Humboldt in 1807 were crucial to his intellectual development, for von Humboldt endorsed his attempt to adopt the theory behind Pestalozzi's method as a new logical basis for Geography. This indirectly owed much to Fichte's philosophy of science. In Gottingen during the wars of liberation, Ritter formulated his new system as a contribution to the revival of German national identity (Volksaufklärung). This culminated in 1817 in the first volume of Die Erdkunde which was applauded throughout Germany and led to the establishment of Geography as a legitimate academic discipline. He received joint appointments to the faculties of the War College and University of Berlin where he became the first Professor of Geography.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Carl Ritter's early geographic thought (1779-1817)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103747
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