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The Philosophers And The Revolution Of The Printing Press

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Chapter Summary

The price of the skills of common workmen was relatively low in Western Europe in the centuries before the Industrial Revolution. This chapter deals with the growth and accumulation of knowledge, and tries to measure the output and cost of propositional knowledge, focusing on book production. During the Middle Ages the levels of literacy and book production in the Middle East may easily have equalled and possibly surpassed that in Western Europe, but that region did not make the transition to mass production of books through the printing press - nor did India, another literate society. The most fundamental change bridging the gap between propositional knowledge and prescriptive knowledge - between common workmen and savants - was probably the rise of literacy. The estimates of book production and consumption can also be used to infer the long-term development of literacy in the centuries before 1800.

Keywords: book production; industrial revolution; printing press; Western Europe



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