Tales of Revisionist History: The Enlightenment In The Early Days
The founding fathers of the scientific revolution and enlightenment were not against religious thought as claimed. Men like Sir Isaac Newton believed in God.
The enlightenment was an age of freedom for some, not everyone.
Enlightenment (Part I) source: Ryan Reeves
The Spread of Print Through European World
"As the technology of printing moved through Europe it spread ideas and knowledge across borders and initiated an 'information revolution' that played a big part in the growth of literacy. At the same time, the power of print became a weapon of authority. Religious and secular powers exploited print for propaganda purposes, and they tried to control what was printed and read by the masses."
"The Age of Enlightenment, dominated advanced thought in Europe from about the 1650s to the 1780s. It developed from a number of sources of “new” ideas, such as challenges to the dogma and authority of the Catholic Church and by increasing interest in the ideas of science, in scientific methods. In philosophy, it called into question traditional ways of thinking. The Enlightenment thinkers wanted the educational system to be modernized and play a more central role in the transmission of those ideas and ideals. The development of educational systems in Europe continued throughout the period of the Enlightenment and into the French Revolution. The improvements in the educational systems produced a larger reading public which resulted in increased demand for printed material from readers across a broader span of social classes with a wider range of interests."
"After 1800, as the Enlightenment gave way to Romanticism, there was less emphasis on reason and challenge to authority and more support for emerging nationalism and compulsory school attendance."
"The Kingdom of Prussia introduced a modern public educational system designed to reach the entire population; it was widely copied across Europe and the United States in the 19th century. The basic foundations of the Prussian primary education system were laid out by Frederick the Great with his "Generallandschulreglement," a decree of 1763, drafted by Johann Julius Hecker. It mandated the schooling of all young Prussians, both girls and boys, to be educated by mainly municipality funded schools from age 5 until age 13 or 14. Prussia was among the first countries in the world to introduce a tax-funded and generally compulsory primary education. In comparison, compulsory schooling in France or Great Britain was not successfully enacted until the 1880s."
"The explosion of the print culture, which started in the 15th century with Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press, was both a result of and a cause of the increase in literacy. The number of books published in the period of the Enlightenment increased dramatically due to the increase in demand for books, which resulted from the increased literacy rates and the declining cost and easier availability of books made possible by the printing press. There was a shift in the percentages of books printed in various categories during the 17th century.
Religious books had comprised around 50% of all books published in Paris at that time. However, the percentage of religious books dropped to 10% by 1790 and there was an increase in the popularity of books such as almanacs. The scientific literature in French might have increased slightly but mostly it remained fairly constant throughout the 18th century. However, contemporary literature seems to have increased as the century progressed. Also, there was a change in the languages that books were printed in. Before the 18th century, a large percentage of the books were published in Latin. As time progressed, there was a decline in the percentage of books published in Latin. Concurrently, the percentage of books published in French, and other languages, increased throughout Europe.
Of course the importance of print culture to education is not simply about counting publication figures. Students had to use the books that were given to them and they had to use pen and paper to organise and make sense of the information that they were learning. In this sense print culture was closely tied to manuscript culture, particularly the skills and routines associated with note-taking. Perhaps one of the most notable accomplishments of Enlightenment educational systems is that they taught students how to efficiently manage information on paper, both in school and then in university."
"During the Enlightenment period, there were changes in the public cultural institutions, such as libraries and museums. The system of public libraries was a product of the Enlightenment. The public libraries were funded by the state and were accessible to everyone for free.
Prior to the Enlightenment, libraries in Europe were restricted mostly to academies and the private collections of aristocrats and other wealthy individuals. With the beginning of state funded institutions, public libraries became places where the general public could study topics of interest and educate themselves. During the 18th century, the prices of books were generally too high for the average person, especially the most popular works such as an encyclopedias. Therefore, the public libraries offered commoners a chance of reading literature and other works that previously could only be read by the wealthier classes."
A New Astronomy Introduced
Enlightenment (Part II) source: Ryan Reeves
Radical Enlightening Minds
"Philosophes introduced the public to many scientific theories, most notably through the Encyclopédie and the popularization of Newtonianism by Voltaire and Émilie du Châtelet. Some historians have marked the 18th century as a drab period in the history of science; however, the century saw significant advancements in the practice of medicine, mathematics, and physics; the development of biological taxonomy; a new understanding of magnetism and electricity; and the maturation of chemistry as a discipline, which established the foundations of modern chemistry."
Voltaire and the Radical Enlightenment source: Ryan Reeves