Renaissance man

A Reading Note

“The age which we commonly think of as characterized by versatility and the universal man was in fact the period when the walls between art and science, between politics and ethics, began to be built.” Because the walls were still low during the first century of printing, they could be straddled with relative ease; while the higher they grew, the more remarkable an earlier versatility would seem.

Eisenstein, The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, page 238

This presents a different perspective on the ideal of the Renaissance man than I have previously considered. Notably, that the ideal of being versed in both the arts and the sciences was one that could be broached because the scholarship of either was not yet established enough to create boundaries between them. And—more interestingly—it was the printing press that provided the stability for those boundaries to emerge.

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