Universiteit Leiden

nl en

Herman Paul new KNAW member: ‘Challenges enough’

Herman Paul (professor of History of the Humanities) has been elected a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). He will be officially installed on 30 September.

The KNAW is a society of outstanding Dutch scientists, which acts as a management body for a number of scientific research institutes. Members are elected on the basis of scientific achievements and are appointed for life.

For Paul, his election as a KNAW member came as a surprise. ‘I received a phone call while having breakfast at De Baak in Noordwijk, where I was attending a training course,’ he says. 'I quickly found a quiet corner ... and then had to keep a very straight face as the appointment had to remain a secret for a few more weeks.'

Return to the Trippenhuis

Being a member of the KNAW is not entirely new for Paul. He was previously part of the Young Academy, the KNAW branch for young scientific talent. 'At the time, I had a lot of meetings in the Trippenhuis, where the KNAW is housed. All kinds of plans originated there... I have such enjoyable  memories of my time there. I am very happy that I can now return to a place I’ve always liked so much and grateful that colleagues apparently have enough faith in me to nominate me for membership.'

Paul is not proud of his achievement. ‘That wouldn’t be in my vocabulary. I’m just in the final stages of an NWO project on scientific vices. Did you know that precisely pride (superbia) was the vice associated with scientific fame for centuries? You can think what you like about that. But personally, I can’t utter the word “pride” without immediately thinking of Juan Luis Vives and other humanist scholars who thought that modesty is more appropriate for scientists than pride.'

Commitment to the humanities and SSH domain

As a KNAW member, Paul is keen to dedicate himself to the humanities. 'That suits my teaching remit, the history of the humanities, although I might draw it a little wider to the SSH (Social Sciences and Humanities) domain. There is a constant need to explain the value of these areas of science.

‘In addition, I think the KNAW can have an important voice in dossiers that transcend individual universities. We currently have plenty of those, from academic freedom and social safety to recognition and rewards. So, challenges enough!'

This website uses cookies.  More information.