Humboldt, Wilhelm, Freiherr von

Humboldt, Wilhelm, Freiherr von

(vĭl`hĕlm frī`hĕr fən ho͝om`bôlt), 1767–1835, German statesman and philologist; brother of Alexander von HumboldtHumboldt, Alexander, Freiherr von
, 1769–1859, German naturalist, inventor, explorer, and author, the most eminent scientist of his time. His full name is Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von Humboldt.
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. As Prussian minister of education (1809–10) he thoroughly reformed the school system, largely on the basis of the ideas of PestalozziPestalozzi, Johann Heinrich
, 1746–1827, Swiss educational reformer, b. Zürich. His theories laid the foundation of modern elementary education. He studied theology at the Univ.
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, and he sent Prussian teachers to study the methods of Pestalozzi's school in Switzerland. He was one of the founders of the Univ. of Berlin. Humboldt was one of the great liberal reformers of Prussia along with Stein and Hardenberg. He remained prominent in the government until 1819, when he retired because of his opposition to the prevailing spirit of reaction. Humboldt was a friend of Goethe and Schiller. His lengthy treatise on Kavi, the ancient language of Java, published posthumously (1836–40), is a work of precision, clarity, and scientific caution.
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