Depersonalizing the Arcanum
Abstract

The more formal education and training of technical experts was a characteristic feature of industrialization in continual Europe. Apart from the creation of new kinds of teaching institutions, it also involved the social establishment of new attitudes concerning craft secrecy. Until 1787, the arcanists and laboratory workers of the Royal Prussian Porcelain Manufactory kept their expertise a personal (or private) secret. The subsequent depersonalization of the arcanum and its transformation into the property of the Manufactory was part of the Prussian state’s strategy to promote a new type of technical expert. This new expert would be adapted to the high degree of division of labor in modern manufactories. He would be knowledgeable, as well as willing to cooperate, to share knowledge, and to provide long-term service to the state. In the decades around 1800, “scientists” (Naturforscher) played an important role in educating and training the new type of technical experts.


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