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    How far did the printing press advance medicine during the Renaissance?

    In this essay, I will examine what advantages and disadvantages the invention of Gutenberg’s printing press in 1453 enabled for the study of medicine during the Renaissance.

    “A new world of communication...In a historical eye-blink, scribes were redundant.”

    John Man’s comment on the effects of the printing press tells that it created a method of communication on a global scale, and that soon thereafter, there was no need for copyists. However, language such as ‘new world’ and ‘historical eye-blink’ is inaccurate and vague. Going on to state that, “Distribution was still by hoof or foot.”, the possibility of printed materials reaching as far as Man’s semantics hints seems unlikely. Perhaps due to Man’s literary style, a brand of formal and therefore sometimes ambiguous, historically inaccurate writing or the range of his previous works (“The Waorani: Jungle Nomads of Ecuador”, “The Atlas of D-Day” and “The Atlas of Year 1000) - which suggest a general knowledge of this subject, rather than a specialisation - his comments and opinions are contentious. Furthermore, the text appears to focus more on the life of Gutenberg than the so-called (by Man) ‘invention that changed the world.’

    A more exact timeframe and impact is offered by Elizabeth Eisenstein:

    “A knowledge explosion was experienced in the sixteenth century...in connection with the Northern Renaissance...with the advent of printing.”

    Contrasting with John Man, Eisenstein asserts that, with the implementation of printing, the benefits it brought were felt only in Northern Europe. Richly termed a ‘knowledge explosion’, the impact of printing on medicine is still unclear. An explosion might disperse knowledge over a large area, or might destroy some important data. The subject of printed literature, the content also dictates what is learned, or published and scattered, forgotten and lost.
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    Please? Is anybody there?
 
 
 

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