Thoughts and Perspectives

More important than the printing press?

I’ve giving midterm exams this week. Giving one right now actually.

When I look around the room so many students are wearing glasses. Several more I know have contracts.

Where would the world be without glasses? Sure the printing press revolutionized the world and helped make the European Renaissance possible, but what about glasses? Have we ever stopped and realized how many people–children, teenagers, senior citizens, people of all ages–wear glasses (or otherwise use corrective lenses)?

I started wearing glasses in 4th grade. Now without my glasses, I am almost blind. I wouldn’t be able to write, read, drive, or anything else the way I do.

When we considered factors that slowed and accelerated technology and human inventions, we need to recognize vision. What we call glasses first existed and became popular from around 1000-1800 CE in very slow stages. Think how much it really influenced society for thousands of years having people who–assuming that human eyes haven’t changed that much per se–simply couldn’t see beginning as children? 

Without glasses the printing press wouldn’t matter.

(Added 7/7/2016: What Did Nearsighted Humans Do Before Glasses?)

Scissors_glasses

6 replies »

    • I’m going to order that book now. I see it’s available on audio CD, so I can listen to it after I finish the books I’m listening to now. I think I heard an NPR story about this book a while back but had forgotten about it. Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

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  1. Actually the opposite is true. If the printing press didn’t exist glasses wouldn’t be so mainstream. People really never realized the point of glasses until the printing press started printing books at cheaper prices than scribes and at a much faster pace. If the printing press didn’t exist then the only people wearing glasses would be the richer folk. I couldn’t ignore this as how wrong it was.

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    • Thanks for your comment. I think you may have misunderstood my post. I do wonder aloud as to my question: Are glasses more important than the printing press? Especially now days where so much is on computer screens or driving, for example. Glasses existed before the printing press and would have come along some other way. Additionally, at the end I say, “without glasses the printing press wouldn’t matter” – meaning that if we didn’t have glasses, we wouldn’t see the printing press as a valuable contribution because very few could read. Thanks for your comments and the opportunity to elaborate on my original post. 🙂

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