The Changing Nature of Necesity and Communication: RBartley-Crossley

In Pope’s essay on man, he spends a decent portion of it mocking the types of things scientists of his era did, essentially claiming that they were trespassing on the domain of God by examining His works. Similarly, in the class’s examining of poems Like Oliver Goldsmith’s “The Ruined Village” we looked at how life was rapidly changing in rural areas of Britain during the 18th century. Both of these led to an examination of how the world has changed in the several centuries between then and now. Most recently, we were discussing what technology actually qualifies as a luxury, and which are necessities. In this vein, I found myself thinking about communication. In the 18’th century, if you wanted to communicate with anybody farther away than the small community you lived in, you would have to write a letter, likely using a feather quill, and wait anywhere from a few days to several months to get a reply, depending on how far away the person you were trying to contact lived. And there was always a possibility of the message never making it there at all. Compare this against today, when you can talk to anybody on earth instantaneously. You can even do this face to face if you have something like Skype. Clearly, we are living in the future. It’s interesting, since this type of advance would not have happened if not for the activities of the scientists (or natural philosophers) of Pope’s time performing all of their observations of the world. And Goldsmith’s concerns about luxury take on a different context with these changes. What once, just two decades ago, would have been the height of luxury (a cell phone), has become a basic requirement to manage in a modern world.


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