Bildung, and "how to think" like an engineer
Preprint, 2023

Starting from the proposition that higher education is a matter of “learning how to think”, this chapter investigates the meaning of Bildung in engineering education. In the context of recent calls for a re-evaluation of classical Bildung – more specifically calls for a turn to a more politically-oriented critical-reflexive Bildung – the chapter studies one earlier instance of a re-evaluation of the notion of classical Bildung. By exploring how Erik Gustaf Geijer and Carl Jonas Love Almqvist challenged dominant conceptions of Bildung in Sweden during the 1830s and 1840s, the text argues that the classical Bildung ideal of forming original human beings who can think for themselves remains a valid objective of higher education. As such, the chapter suggests that recent, more politically-oriented versions of Bildung jeopardizes the classical Bildung ideal of intellectual autonomy – an ideal which holds particular value in engineering education.

classical Bildung

Carl Jonas Love Almqvist

Erik Gustaf Geijer

David Foster Wallace

Liberal education


Karl Palmås

Chalmers, Technology Management and Economics, Science, Technology and Society

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Educational Sciences

History of Ideas

Learning and teaching

Pedagogical work

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