Help me find the winners of the 1780 Berlin Academy essay contest
March 10, 2007 12:27 PM   Subscribe

Please help me find the prize winning essays from the 1780 Berlin Academy question: ’Is it useful for a nation to be deceived, whether by leading it into new errors or maintaining old ones?’ (“S'il peut etre utile de tromper le peuple.”)

The winners were Friedrich von Castillon jun. (1708-1791; Professor of Mathematics at the Ritterakademie in Berlin) and Rudolf Zacharia Becker (1753-1822; Governor of Baron Dachenröden in Erfurt). These essays are often spoken of, but never quoted. Obviously, it's a topic many people would find interesting. Yet I cannot find their essays, in French, German, or English!

I'd be even more pleased if some knowledgeable scholar of the German Enlightenment could supply the other essays that won the Accessit, and tell me whether Gottholt Lessing had anything to say on the matter.

Some resources I have consulted without success: This site lists the winners, as does the original Histoire. Adolph von Harnack's book, Geschichte der Königlich preussischen Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, doesn't help as much as all the other commentators claim it does; I feel like they're hiding their sources....
posted by anotherpanacea to Society & Culture (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
If any place has it, it's probably the library of the Academy. They seem to have some writings by the same authors, and I'm fairly sure you can find a lot with that site (if you read German, I don't).
posted by anaelith at 1:24 PM on March 10, 2007

This page lists a two-volume work coming out this year about the 1780 question, by Hans Adler. Might be useful to you, even if the essays aren't reprinted in full.
posted by gubo at 2:23 PM on March 10, 2007

Here are details about that upcoming book, in German.
posted by gubo at 2:30 PM on March 10, 2007

Response by poster: The electronic edition of the Academy library doesn't seem to have the essays themselves; apparently they weren't published in the Histoires. The Adler book's description suggests that some of these essays may only exist, at present, in manuscript form! It's basically a transcription of all the entries! (Clearly I'm just behind the curve on this research project.) The book isn't due until May, but looks like it will be a perfect resource. Only 138 euros.... :-)
posted by anotherpanacea at 4:34 PM on March 10, 2007

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