Privatdozent at Göttingen

  • Michael Monastyrsky
Part of the Modern Birkhäuser Classics book series (MBC)


Advancement up the career ladder at German universities was a complex and lengthy process, and obtaining a doctoral degree was only one of the mandatory steps. The system of acquiring degrees and titles influenced in no small de- gree the development of science, and we will look at it in somewhat greater detail. Nineteenth-century German science strongly favored candidates who had completed a university education rather than those who had graduated from the technical institutes (Hochschulen). Only those who had graduated from a university could occupy a teaching position and later become a professor. After obtaining a doctoral degree, one could aspire to the post of lecturer (Privatdozent). In order to do this it was necessary to present to the university council a Habilitationsschrift, a competitive composition including original work, which was presented as a small course of lectures on any special branch of knowledge. In addition, one had to deliver a Habilitationsvortrag, a probationary report on a narrow topic chosen by the university council. After this, if the outcome was favorable, one obtained the right to teach at the university.


Black Hole Fourier Series Trigonometric Series Riemannian Space Geodesic Line 
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  1. 1.
    See Riemann’s Habilitationsschrift in Gesammelte Mathematische Werke. Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Riemann’s Habilitationsvortrag “Über die Hypothesen, welche der Geometrie zu Grunde liegen” in Gesammelte Mathematische Werke. Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Klein, F. Development of Mathematics, p. 156.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Gauss’ correspondence, published at the end of the nineteenth century, shows that, beginning roughly in 1794, he seriously worked on geometric problems and mastered many concepts later developed by Lobachevskii (1792–1856) and Bólyai (1802–1860).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    It is instructive to note that a direct reading of the classics of science enables the student to avoid repeating widely held but sometimes utterly false beliefs. This remark applies to the present author. In the first edition, relying on the authority of Klein, I wrote that Gauss looked for an experimental determination of the geometry that holds in nature, by finding the magnitude of the difference between the angles in Brocken-Hohenhagen-Inselberg triangle and π. Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Abhandlungen der Königlichen Gesellschaft der Wissenschaften zu Göttingen, 13.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    From William Kingdon Clifford, Mathematical Papers, Rol and Co., 1882.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Riemann, B. Gesammelte Mathematische Werke, p. 285.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael Monastyrsky
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Theoretical PhysicsInsitute for Theoretical and Experimental PhysicsMoscowRussia

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