Higher Education and the Growth of Knowledge: A Historical Outline of Aims and Tensions, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Higher Education and the Growth of Knowledge

A Historical Outline of Aims and Tensions, 1st Edition

By Michael Segre


228 pages

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This book sketches the history of higher education, in parallel with the development of science. Its goal is to draw attention to the historical tensions between the aims of higher education and those of science, in the hope of contributing to improving the contemporary university. A helpful tool in analyzing these intellectual and social tensions is Karl Popper's philosophy of science demarcating science and its social context. Popper defines a society that encourages criticism as "open," and argues convincingly that an open society is the most appropriate one for the growth of science. A "closed society," on the other hand, is a tribal and dogmatic society. Despite being the universal home of science today, the university, as an institution that is thousands of years old, carries traces of different past cultural, social, and educational traditions. The book argues that, by and large, the university was, and still is, a closed society and does not serve the best interests of the development of science and of students' education.


"Beginning with ancient Near Eastern literate societies, he traces the history of education and learning through the European medieval, Renaissance, and early modern universities, Enlightenment technological schools and Humboldtian reform movements, arriving finally at contemporary American and European institutions that have expanded their reach worldwide. It is a breathtaking, prodigious survey of 3000 years of intellectual history." - Steven J. Livesey, History of Universities

Table of Contents

Introduction 1. Then and Now 2. The Classical Roots: Farewell to the Socratic Method 3. The Classical Roots: Aristotle and Beyond 4. The Religious Roots: Priests and Rabbis 5. The Religions Roots: Medieval Intermezzo 6. The Birth of the University 7. The Age of Innovation 8. Learning the New Techniques 9. The Advent of Science 10. Science Develops Outside "Academia" 11. The Advent of Modern University. Appendix 1: Galileo and the Medici: Post-Renaissance Patronage or Post-Modern Historiography? Appendix 2: Kuhn, Meritocracy, and Excellence

About the Author

Michael Segre is Professor of the History of Science at the Gabriele D'Annunzio University in Chieti. He is the author of numerous books and articles, including In the Wake of Galileo (1991) and Peano's Axioms in their Historical Context (1994).

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Social History
SCIENCE / Study & Teaching