Third Revised Edition
VII. Specialized Discourse in The Philosophical Transactions - 141
VII. Specialized Discourse in The Philosophical Transactions The developments of specialized news discourse in the Early Modern English period were consequential to the great epistemological and methodological innovations which took place in 17th and 18th century England. Indeed, these innovations determined the need to socialize the discoveries made and the new ideas developed, also thanks to a collaborative spirit which inspired 17th and 18th century scientists, in contrast to the individualism that characterized philosophers in the Renaissance period. The development of the sciences was now seen as a result of public discussion and knowledge sharing, in the conviction that “In Assemblies, the Wits of most men are sharper, their apprehen- sions readier, their thoughts fuller, than in their closets” (Sprat 1667: 98). The aim of this chapter is to illustrate the different methods that the specialized discourse community of the times used to spread the news about the many activities then taking place and the discoveries being made by the members of this community. In particular, the chapter focuses on the various forms employed by the contributors to the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London to pro- pagate new information regarding specialized facts or events among the wide and varied readership of this journal. It will be shown that the communicative role of such authors was not limited merely to the fulfilment of goals linked to socialization and solidarity, but also in- cluded the reform of existing means of discourse and the development of new ones. Indeed, the...
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