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Copyright © 1997, Jay Ligda.  All rights reserved.  Published by Humans in the Universe and Jay Ligda.

The Printing Press

      Paper came from China into Arabia during the eighth century (Grun, 1976).  By 1150, it was being manufactured in Europe.  By the end of the fourteenth century it was available in abundance and cheap enough to print books (Wells, 1931).  In 1470, the first printing press was set up (Grun, 1976).  Before the printing press, documents had to be hand written.  The printing press allowed for the mass production of printed material.  In 1492, the profession of book publisher was established (Grun, 1976).  Before the printing press there were only about 30,000 books on the continent of Europe.  By 1500, there were more than nine million (Gates, 1995).  Information became available to more of the masses (Grun, 1975).  Literacy rates increased (Wells, 1931).

      In 1517 Martin Luther began the Protestant Reformation.  Between the years of 1522 and 1562 he was able to print 100,000 copies of his translation of the Bible (Grun, 1976).  Other versions of the Bible were also being mass produced and distributed.  The hierarchy of the Catholic church began to lose power.  This was the source of the split between the values that created technology, and those that use/abuse technology.

      In 1644, Descartes published his Principia Philosophicae in which the famous statement (successful meme) "Cogito, ergo sum" ("I think therefore I am") appeared.  This kind of thinking had a profound affect on human culture.

      With a greater availability of books, more information was being absorbed through the verbal mind channels.  Theorist McLuhan (as cited in Greene, 1995) suggests that print technology as an extension of our visual sense has established new ratios of the proportion of all our other senses.  Thus, "we have undergone a shift from experiencing life within the perspective of the internal realm (ear/heart) to the external realm (eye/head)" (Greene,1995, p. 46).  McLuhan (as cited in Greene, 1995) also argues that print technology created a linear sense of time and space as opposed to a wholistic sense of time and space perceived through multisensory input.  Print technology created a solely visual imagination and, McLuhan (as cited in Greene, 1995) argues, this allowed fixed points of view and the collection of people within fixed points of view (p. 47).

by Jay Ligda

(This work is a all or part of an original work first published/written for John. F. Kennedy University:  Final Integrative Project., Mar1996.)

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  • Grun, B.  (1975).  The Timetables of History: A Horizontal Linkage of People and Events.  New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
  • Greene, D. (1995).  Embodying Holism:  A Somatic Perspective on Communication.  Dissertation.  Columbus, OH:  Ohio State University.
  • Gates, B.  (1995).  The Road Ahead.  New York, NY: Penguin.
  • Wells, O.  (1931).  The Outline of History. Revised ed.  New York, NY: Garden City.


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