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Switzerland, Culture

Mathematician Leonhard Euler, Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Saint Gall, century Protestant Reformation, century theologian

Switzerland has a rich and diverse cultural heritage. The German, French, Italian, and Rhaeto-Roman cultures embodied in the Swiss linguistic regions have all profoundly influenced the broader Swiss culture, even as they have retained their own distinctive forms of expression. Foreign influences have shaped Switzerland since early times. By the Middle Ages the country had achieved a high level of cultural development. Carolingian culture, especially painting and Romanesque architecture, flourished, and the Sankt Gallen (Saint Gall) monastery emerged as a brilliant educational center. Since that time the Swiss have assimilated most important European cultural trends, including humanism and the Reformation. For centuries Switzerland’s tradition of neutrality enriched Swiss culture by attracting a wide variety of creative people to the country during times of turmoil and war.

Swiss contributions to science and philosophy over the centuries are numerous. The influential 16th-century Swiss physician Philippus Paracelsus, who combined the study of chemistry and medicine, is sometimes considered the first modern scientist. Nicholas of Flue, a 15th-century theologian, achieved wide recognition and was canonized in 1947. Mathematician Leonhard Euler made many important discoveries in the 18th century, as did Nobel Prize-winning chemist Alfred Werner in the 19th century. Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the major writers of the Age of Enlightenment, and educator Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi laid the groundwork for modern elementary education in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Huldreich Zwingli and John Calvin, leaders of the 16th-century Protestant Reformation, are claimed by the Swiss, as are the eminent 20th-century psychological theorists Jean Piaget and Carl Gustav Jung. Jakob Burckhardt, a Swiss historian of art and culture, wrote the acclaimed Die Kultur der Renaissance in Italien (1860; Civilization of the Renaissance in Italy, 1878).

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Article key phrases:

Mathematician Leonhard Euler, Philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Saint Gall, century Protestant Reformation, century theologian, Sankt Gallen, Carl Gustav Jung, Romanesque architecture, Foreign influences, John Calvin, Age of Enlightenment, early times, humanism, Italien, Reformation, Civilization, Renaissance, Middle Ages, monastery, groundwork, centuries, war, French, Italian, Italy, German, medicine, philosophy, leaders, science, country, culture

 
 

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