Wednesday, November 5, 2008

spreading Enlightenment with words

Desiderius Erasmus by Hans Holbein [1497-1543]

The first man to take advantage of Johannes Gutenberg's printing press, which had been invented in 1439, was Erasmus [1466-1536]. In a way he became the first journalist with his Praise and Folly,  which he said took him just one week to produce in 1509. The point he made was that human beings, institutions can be intolerably stupid. Popes, kings, monks, scholars, war, theology. He questioned everything and encouraged everyone to think for themselves. For the first time such concepts were made available to thousands of readers across Europe. Erasmus spread enlightenment through printed words.