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This Is Enlightenment$
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Clifford Siskin and William Warner

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780226761473

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226761466.001.0001

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Where were the Media before the Media?

Where were the Media before the Media?

Mediating the World at the Time of Condillac and Linnaeus

Chapter:
(p.64) Where were the Media before the Media?
Source:
This Is Enlightenment
Author(s):

Knut Ove Eliassen

Yngve Sandhei Jacobsen

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226761466.003.0003

This chapter cautions against the anachronism of applying the modern concept of “the media” to Enlightenment. It suggests that the cleavage between Enlightenment and post-Enlightenment media arrives when new early nineteenth-century technologies—the telegraph, the photograph, and Babbage's analytical engine—separate information processing from the eye, the hand, and the interiority of the individual, which during the Enlightenment still sustained the vital middle position in the transmission of information. For example, in order to fashion Carl Linnaeus's traveling body into a medium through which data about the natural history of Lapland can flow back to the Royal Society of Sweden, the young naturalist prepared for his journey by assembling his instruments: the notebook, the magnifying glass, the measuring rod, and so on. The present account of Enlightenment epistemology shows that these tools are presumed to function in the same way as the human senses that they extend.

Keywords:   media, Enlightenment, post-Enlightenment, nineteenth-century technologies, telegraph, photograph, Linnaeus, analytical engine, epistemology

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