Copyright © Louise Bostock 2007-2013. Please give credit where credit is due.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Quote of the week No. 36 : On learning

Six degrees at 8:30am. Sunny, but with a stiff wind sending glittering white horses galloping across the lake, and spray erupting upwards from the harbour walls and cliff sides.

Denis Diderot (1713-1784), the French philosopher and writer, was one of the giants of the Enlightenment, and, together with Jean Le Ronde d'Alembert, compiled what is considered to be the first real encyclopaedia, a project that consumed twenty years of his life. The Encyclopèdie was to enable any person who could read access to knowledge on any subject, and not just those already covered by the universities, and in this sense it was a deeply revolutionary work. It may be no coincidence - although not a simple one - that the French Revolution itself took place only five years after Diderot's death.

As one might imagine, Diderot thought a lot about learning, and where the ordinary person might come by it. But for him simply having access to books and the ability to read them was not enough. For him, information, facts, knowledge needed to be systematised and presented in all its many facets in order for real learning to take place. He wrote :

"The number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes."

Almost three hundred years later, in 2004, the number of new books published in the English language alone was a staggering 450,000 - that's almost a book a minute. And if that's not enough, I wonder what Diderot would have thought about the Internet...


Frontispiece snaffled from Wikipedia.


17 comments:

LadyFi said...

I think Diderot would be staggered - just as I am at the thought on one book per minute!

Vanessa said...

Don't bite the hand that feeds you!

Vanessa said...

And me, for that matter!

Sarah said...

Found your great blog through Friday Follow. Now following!

http://bloggerchixdesigns.blogspot.com

SafeHomeHappyMom said...

Visiting you from Friday Follow....Im your latest follower. Will love for you to visit and follow my blog at www.safehomehappymom.com

-Blessing @ Safe Home Happy Mom

joeandbridge said...

Good Morning! Happy Friday Follow! I am your newest follower. Come visit me :) and have a great weekend! Shoot me an email if you'd like me to subscribe, twitter or facebook.

Bridgette Groschen
The Groschen Goblins
http://www.groschengoblins.com

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Oh my, don't you wish you could show Diderot the ways in which libraries categorize books, and then the incredible electronic developments such as Google and Wikipedia!

Karin said...

Love your poetic description of the wind over the lake!

Louise said...

Hi Blissed out Grandma, I'm sure the search engines and the electronic cataloguing we have now would have wowed him. But I'm not sure he would have been so excited about the fact that, especially with the internet, it's almost impossible to tell whether your information sources are reliable or not.

Blackberry Jam Cafe said...

Thanks for stopping in - and especially thank you for the travel advice about an umbrella and big sweater if I make it to Ireland! I'm now following your blog so I don't miss any more great travel ideas or adventures!
Susan

Debbie said...

A book a minute? Hard to wrap my mind around that statistic.

Midday Escapades said...

Howdy! Friday Follower here. I’m making my way through the list and I am now your blog follower.

~ Lynn
http://www.middayescapades.com

bizzimommiofboyz said...

Hello from a VERY LATE friday follower!

Following you from...

Http://bizzimommi.blogspot.com

Hope you'll stop in!

Mrs. Sanchez said...

Yes, another reader said staggered and I completely agree with her comment.

I immediately thought of the internet as well. amazing. I was trying to explain it to my 92 year old grandma the other day and its a very difficult concept to grasp.

Anyways, I found you via FF and am now following. Follow back at http://jotgiveaways.blogspot.com

Stine in Ontario said...

Words to poner, Louise. The world is definitely a different place from the time of Diderot. I wonder what it will be like when your children are grownups!

HeartsMakeFamilies said...

Hi there! Thanks for joining the Blog Hop. I'm following you now. Love your blog. I'll be back later to read more.

Happy Follow Friday!

Tami
www.heartsmakefamilies.com

Freely Living Life said...

Hi there! :)
I found you on "Friday Follow" and am now following you through Google Friend Connect. I look forward to further exploring your blog. Come on over and visit us when you get a chance. <3

Friday, 5 March 2010

Quote of the week No. 36 : On learning

Six degrees at 8:30am. Sunny, but with a stiff wind sending glittering white horses galloping across the lake, and spray erupting upwards from the harbour walls and cliff sides.

Denis Diderot (1713-1784), the French philosopher and writer, was one of the giants of the Enlightenment, and, together with Jean Le Ronde d'Alembert, compiled what is considered to be the first real encyclopaedia, a project that consumed twenty years of his life. The Encyclopèdie was to enable any person who could read access to knowledge on any subject, and not just those already covered by the universities, and in this sense it was a deeply revolutionary work. It may be no coincidence - although not a simple one - that the French Revolution itself took place only five years after Diderot's death.

As one might imagine, Diderot thought a lot about learning, and where the ordinary person might come by it. But for him simply having access to books and the ability to read them was not enough. For him, information, facts, knowledge needed to be systematised and presented in all its many facets in order for real learning to take place. He wrote :

"The number of books will grow continually, and one can predict that a time will come when it will be almost as difficult to learn anything from books as from the direct study of the whole universe. It will be almost as convenient to search for some bit of truth concealed in nature as it will be to find it hidden away in an immense multitude of bound volumes."

Almost three hundred years later, in 2004, the number of new books published in the English language alone was a staggering 450,000 - that's almost a book a minute. And if that's not enough, I wonder what Diderot would have thought about the Internet...


Frontispiece snaffled from Wikipedia.


17 comments:

LadyFi said...

I think Diderot would be staggered - just as I am at the thought on one book per minute!

Vanessa said...

Don't bite the hand that feeds you!

Vanessa said...

And me, for that matter!

Sarah said...

Found your great blog through Friday Follow. Now following!

http://bloggerchixdesigns.blogspot.com

SafeHomeHappyMom said...

Visiting you from Friday Follow....Im your latest follower. Will love for you to visit and follow my blog at www.safehomehappymom.com

-Blessing @ Safe Home Happy Mom

joeandbridge said...

Good Morning! Happy Friday Follow! I am your newest follower. Come visit me :) and have a great weekend! Shoot me an email if you'd like me to subscribe, twitter or facebook.

Bridgette Groschen
The Groschen Goblins
http://www.groschengoblins.com

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Oh my, don't you wish you could show Diderot the ways in which libraries categorize books, and then the incredible electronic developments such as Google and Wikipedia!

Karin said...

Love your poetic description of the wind over the lake!

Louise said...

Hi Blissed out Grandma, I'm sure the search engines and the electronic cataloguing we have now would have wowed him. But I'm not sure he would have been so excited about the fact that, especially with the internet, it's almost impossible to tell whether your information sources are reliable or not.

Blackberry Jam Cafe said...

Thanks for stopping in - and especially thank you for the travel advice about an umbrella and big sweater if I make it to Ireland! I'm now following your blog so I don't miss any more great travel ideas or adventures!
Susan

Debbie said...

A book a minute? Hard to wrap my mind around that statistic.

Midday Escapades said...

Howdy! Friday Follower here. I’m making my way through the list and I am now your blog follower.

~ Lynn
http://www.middayescapades.com

bizzimommiofboyz said...

Hello from a VERY LATE friday follower!

Following you from...

Http://bizzimommi.blogspot.com

Hope you'll stop in!

Mrs. Sanchez said...

Yes, another reader said staggered and I completely agree with her comment.

I immediately thought of the internet as well. amazing. I was trying to explain it to my 92 year old grandma the other day and its a very difficult concept to grasp.

Anyways, I found you via FF and am now following. Follow back at http://jotgiveaways.blogspot.com

Stine in Ontario said...

Words to poner, Louise. The world is definitely a different place from the time of Diderot. I wonder what it will be like when your children are grownups!

HeartsMakeFamilies said...

Hi there! Thanks for joining the Blog Hop. I'm following you now. Love your blog. I'll be back later to read more.

Happy Follow Friday!

Tami
www.heartsmakefamilies.com

Freely Living Life said...

Hi there! :)
I found you on "Friday Follow" and am now following you through Google Friend Connect. I look forward to further exploring your blog. Come on over and visit us when you get a chance. <3