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Introduction to Mass Communication

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In the 13th century a rediscovery of Greek and Roman literature occurred across Europe that
eventually led to the development of the humanist movement in the next century. In addition to
emphasizing Greek and Latin scholarship, humanists believed that each individual had significance within
society. The growth of an interest in humanism led to the changes in the arts and sciences that form
common conceptions of the Renaissance.

Revival of ideas spread through print

The 14th century to the 16th century – during which time printing process was invented and which
led to pace up the print media communication - was a period of economic flux in Europe; the most
extensive changes took place in Italy. After the death of King Frederick II in 1250, emperors lost power in
Italy and throughout Europe; none of Frederick's successors equaled him. Power fell instead into the hands
of various popes.
During the Renaissance small Italian republics developed into dictatorships as the centers of power moved
from the landed estates to the cities. Europe itself slowly developed into groups of self-sufficient
compartments. At the height of the Renaissance there were five major city-states in Italy: the combined
state of Naples and Sicily, the Papal State, Florence, Milan, and Venice.


Beginning in the latter half of the 15th century, a humanist faith in classical scholarship led to the
search for ancient (hand-written) texts that would increase current scientific knowledge.
Among the works rediscovered were Galen's physiological and anatomical studies and Ptolemy's
Geography. Botany, zoology, magic and astrology were developed during the Renaissance as a result of the
study of ancient texts. Since printing techniques were available, it made the task of sending the old research
still safe in hand written texts, to scholars living distant countries. Scientific thinkers such as Leonardo da
Vinci, Nicolaus Copernicus, Galileo and Johannes Kepler attempted to refine earlier thought on astronomy.
Among Leonardo's discoveries were the revelation that thrown or shot projectiles move in one curved
trajectory rather than two; metallurgical techniques that allowed him to make great sculptures; and
anatomical observations that increased the accuracy of his drawings. The work done on old ideas kept
appearing in books printed in different countries.
In 1543 Copernicus wrote De revolutionibus, a work that placed the sun at the center of the universe and
the planets in order around it; his work was an attempt to revise the earlier writings of Ptolemy. Galileo's
most famous invention was an accurate telescope through which he observed the heavens; he recorded his
findings in Siderius nuncius [starry messenger]. Galileo's Dialogo...sopra i due massimi sistemi del mondo
[dialogue concerning the two chief world systems] (1632), for which he was denounced by the pope,
resulted in his living under house arrest for the rest of his life.
Tycho Brahe gave an accurate estimate of planetary positions and refuted the Aristotelian theory that placed
the planets within crystal spheres. Kepler was the first astronomer to suggest that planetary orbits were


Printing technique was now helping the scholars in the west greatly who produced books one after
the other to create a mark on the thinking of people about the physical things and the motion of moons and
stars. These were the initial phase when the world was about to embark on mass communication through
the printed words.
Humanism in Renaissance rhetoric was a reaction to Aristotelian scholasticism, as espoused by Francis
Bacon, Averroës, and Albertus Magnus, among others. While the scholastics claimed a logical connection
between word and thought, the humanists differentiated between physical utterance and intangible
meditation; they gave common usage priority over sets of logical rules.
The humanists also sought to emulate classical values. Joseph Webbe wrote that taught Latin
through reconstruction of the sentences of classical authors from individual phrases and clauses. Roger
Ascham taught that one could learn to speak effectively by studying the speeches of ancient orators.
Thomas Elyot wrote The Book Named the Governor, which suggested rules for effective statesmanship.
Thomas More's most significant contribution to humanism was Utopia, a design for an ideal society based
primarily on works by classical authors.
The effect of humanism on English literature was wide and far-reaching. It is evidenced, for example, in the
works of Ben Jonson and William Shakespeare. The poems and plays of Jonson often center on the
difference between virtue and vice; Jonson considers sincerity, honesty, self-discipline, and concern to be
chief virtues, while dissimulation, lying, or masking of identity is vicious behavior. His Volpone and The
Alchemist exemplify humanist values. In a play such as Shakespeare's Tempest, a main character (Prospero)
embodies a full range of human abilities: father, creator, ruler, magician, master, and scholar. In addition,
Shakespeare took subject matter for many plays from classical sources (e.g., Coriolanus, Troilus and
Cressida, and Julius Caesar).
In France Michel de Montaigne and François Rabelais were the most important proponents of humanist
thought. Montaigne's essays are memorable for their clear statement of an individual's beliefs and their
careful examination of society. In “On the Education of Children,” he suggests a remaking of secondary
education according to classical models. The Renaissance Italian Leone Battista Alberti is famed for a series
of dialogues in which he teaches classical virtues in a vernacular tongue. Niccolò Machiavelli wrote Principe,
in which he memorably described the various shapes a ruler must assume in order to become an effective
leader, and Discorsi [the discourses], in which he studies Livy in a search for classical values. The Book of
the Courtier by Baldassare Castiglione is essentially about Castiglione himself; in it the author delineates the
characteristics of a perfect gentleman.
All what was done in the literature books was printed and books traveled from one point of the continent
to another and read widely because high number of printed version made it possible for more people to
participate in discussions on new ideas in natural and social sciences.

Scientific changes

The event which most historians of science call the scientific revolution can be dated roughly as
having begun in 1543, the year in which Nicolaus Copernicus published his De revolutionibus orbium
coelestium (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) and Andreas Vesalius published his De humani
corporis fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human body). As with many historical demarcations, historians of
science disagree about its boundaries, some seeing elements contributing to the revolution as early as the
14th century and finding its last stages in chemistry and biology in the 18th and 19th centuries. There is
general agreement, however, that the intervening period saw a fundamental transformation in scientific
ideas in physics, astronomy and biology, in institutions supporting scientific investigation, and in the more
widely held picture of the universe.

Emergence of the revolution

Since the time of Voltaire, some observers have considered that a revolutionary change in thought,
called in recent times a scientific revolution, took place around the year 1600; that is, that there were
dramatic and historically rapid changes in the ways in which scholars thought about the physical world and
studied it. Science, as it is treated in this account, is essentially understood and practiced in the modern
world; with various "other narratives" or alternate ways of knowing omitted.
Alexandre Koyré coined the term and definition of 'The Scientific Revolution' in 1939, which later
influenced the work of traditional historians A. Rupert Hall and J.D. Bernal and subsequent historiography
on the subject (Steven Shapin, The Scientific Revolution, 1996). To some extent, this arises from different
conceptions of what the revolution was; some of the rancor and cross-purposes in such debates may arise
from lack of recognition of these fundamental differences. But it also and more crucially arises from
disagreements over the historical facts about different theories and their logical analysis, e.g. Did Aristotle's
dynamics deny the principle of inertia or not? Did science become mechanistic?

New Ideas and People who emerged:

Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) published Concerning the Revolutions of the Celestial Spheres in 1543
argued for the heliocentric theory of the solar system.
Andreas Vesalius (1514-1564) published De Humani Corporis Fabrica (On the Fabric of the Human Body)
(1543), which discredited Galen's views. He found that the circulation of blood resolved from
pumping of the heart. He also assembled the first human skeleton from cutting open cadavers.
William Gilbert (1544-1603) published On the Magnet and Magnetic Bodies and That Great Magnet the
in 1600.
Tycho Brahe (1546-1601) made extensive and more accurate naked eye observations of the planets
in the late 1500's which became the basic data for Kepler's studies.
Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626), whose greatest scientific experiment amounted to stuffing snow
into a dead chicken, nevertheless penned inductive reasoning, proceeding from observation and
Galileo (1564-1642) improved the telescope and made several astonishing (for the time)
astronomical observations such as the phases of Venus and the moons of Jupiter, which he
published in 1610. He developed the laws for falling bodies based on pioneering quantitative
experiments which he analyzed mathematically.
Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) published the first two of his three laws of planetary motion in 1609.
William Harvey (1578-1657) demonstrated that blood circulates via dissections and various other
experimental techniques.
René Descartes (1596-1650) pioneered deductive reasoning, publishing in 1637 Discourse on Method.
Antony van Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) constructed powerful single lens microscopes and made
extensive observations that he published in about 1660 began to open up the micro-world of
Isaac Newton (1642-1727) built upon the work of Kepler and Galileo. His development of the
calculus opened up new applications of the methods of mathematics to science. He showed that an
inverse square law for gravity explained the elliptical orbits of the planets, and advanced the theory
of Universal Gravitation. Newton believed that scientific theory should be coupled with rigid

Theoretical developments

In 1543 Copernicus' work on the heliocentric model of the solar system was published, in which he
tried to prove that the sun was the center of the universe. Ironically, this was at the behest of the Catholic
Church as part of the Catholic Reformation efforts for a means of creating a more accurate calendar for its
activities. For almost two millennia, the geocentric model had been accepted by all but a few astronomers.
The idea that the earth moved around the sun, as advocated by Copernicus, was to most of his
contemporaries preposterous. It contradicted not only the virtually unquestioned Aristotelian philosophy,
but also common sense. For suppose the earth turns about its own axis. Then, surely, if we were to drop a
stone from a high tower, the earth would rotate beneath it while it fell, thus causing the stone to land some
space away from the tower's bottom. This effect is not observed.
It is no wonder, then, that although some astronomers used the Copernican system to calculate the
movement of the planets, only a handful actually accepted it as true theory. It took the efforts of two men,
Johannes Kepler and Galileo, to give it credibility. Kepler was a brilliant astronomer who, using the very
accurate observations of Tycho Brahe, realized that the planets move around the sun not in circular orbits,
but in elliptical ones. Together with his other laws of planetary motion, this allowed him to create a model
of the solar system that was a huge improvement over Copernicus' original system. Galileo's main
contributions to the acceptance of the heliocentric system were his mechanics and the observations he
made with his telescope, as well as his detailed presentation of the case for the system (which led to his
condemnation by the Inquisition). Using an early theory of inertia, Galileo could explain why rocks dropped
from a tower fall straight down even if the earth rotates. His observations of the moons of Jupiter, the
phases of Venus, the spots on the sun, and mountains on the moon all helped to discredit the Aristotelian
philosophy and the Ptolemaic theory of the solar system. Through their combined discoveries, the
heliocentric system gained more and more support, and at the end of the 17th century it was generally
accepted by astronomers.
Both Kepler's laws of planetary motion and Galileo's mechanics culminated in the work of Isaac Newton.
His laws of motion were to be the solid foundation of mechanics; his law of universal gravitation combined
terrestrial and celestial mechanics into one great system that seemed to be able to describe the whole world
in mathematical formulae.
Not only astronomy and mechanics were greatly changed. Optics, for instance, was revolutionized by
people like Robert Hooke, Christiaan Huygens, René Descartes and, once again, Isaac Newton, who
developed mathematical theories of light as either waves (Huygens) or particles (Newton). Similar
developments could be seen in chemistry, biology and other sciences, although their full development into
modern science was delayed for a century or more.

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