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The Enlightenment

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  • hibbsa
    For a couple of years now in the car, if I m looking for music and not news, I ve tended to listen to BBC Radio 3, which is back to back classical. I can t
    Message 1 of 1 , Mar 7, 2013
      For a couple of years now in the car, if I'm looking for music and not
      news, I've tended to listen to BBC Radio 3, which is back to back
      classical. I can't talk about it because I don't know it well enough. I
      just like listening to it. I like piano and violin a lot, though not
      necessary together.

      More recently...perhaps 3 or 6 months, I've become deeply interested in
      looking at art. This is still a real surprise to me and in another
      department in my mind something I work to make sense of. I think it's
      connected to previously wanting to understand the origin and nature of
      science. Which inevitably leads to wanting to understand the strands of
      history that produced it. Which, I think, in the end, cannot be
      separated from the emergence of art..and music.

      And poetry, and writing.

      In the end the major explanation seems to fall toward aristocracy. Which
      may not be a popular or fashionable way to look at things but once you
      do begin to look at history, it becomes pretty clear that the beginnings
      have to be in aristocratic traditions, because there aren't any other.
      You can't really separate religion from this because the two strands
      joined quite a long way back.

      Right now my simplified thesis is along the lines of, the Normans
      invasions had the effect of merging the ruling elites right across the
      continent. Norman conquests in Italy were particularly significant
      because once those barons had defeated the locals and and begun to seal
      Europe from Islam, they turned out to be remarkably liberal in their

      Little multcultural city states emerged on the Italian coastlines which
      become major centres of trade, cultural exchange, and innovation. All of
      which was very much began to set the scene for the cultural revolutions
      that would emerge hundreds of years later. But something else was
      happening, that was more subtle.

      A continent wide aristocracy, in practice, for individual members,
      especially the young, often meant marrying people hundreds or thousands
      of miles away. Which meant leaving behind everyone you knew and loved
      and possibly never seeing any of them again. This was happening on a
      conistent and frequent basis, right across generations of aristocracy,
      and it must have been heart wrenching.

      To cut a long story short, something simple that emerged out of this,
      was letter writing. Letters became so important to people. Writing and
      letters were often the only contact a young person ever again had with
      parents, siblings and friends. The need for new ways to communicate and
      be in touch began to drive new expressions....poetry...and then art.
      Accurate art. Art that could communicate people and places across

      Also the social need for multilingualism, which in turn drove
      standardization in individual languages, which in turn established
      techical platforms for their expansion. The need for standardization was
      real and pressing, not intellectual. People were communicating with
      language, with music, with art. There needed to be a way to play music
      written a thousand miles away.

      The rise of these disciplines with the standardization to allow the
      achievements of a (aristocratic) girl in Prussia to be compared to a
      (aristocratic) girl in Scotland, faciliated a new and richer "eugenic"
      edge to colour the incidence of marriage. The dimensions across which to
      assess the more able expanded, and those with talen (and beauty) were of
      a premium.

      But what happened to the less accomplished was perhaps even more
      influential. Less able aristocratic suitors were driven, first to seek
      similarly unable equals across the continent, and then to seek marriage
      among the senior courtiers and then the more up and coming of the
      trading classes. And so the aristocratic traditions and practices began
      to 'trickle down' (just read Emily Bronte or any of the other classics,
      of and for, the middle classes of the time)

      Thus the scene was being set for the European Englightenment and the
      revolutions such as Science that would follow.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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