Monday, February 20, 2006

Renaissance Rhetoric of Ramus Part 4: Diffusion of Ramism

The following post is the final installment of my comprised notes written on Walter Ong's book "Ramus, Method, and the Decay of Dialogue"

The previous three entries have discussed the major issues of Ramism, the intellectual and historical backgrounds of Ramism, and Ramism itself. The only remaining entry, and a very short one, is concerned with the spread of Ramism across time and space.

Ramism spread especially well in Germany and the Rhineland during the period spanning 1580-1620. Though it arrived in England and the British Isles, it did not share the same avid popularity as it did in Germany. The mental sensibilities that characterize it did make their way into the world of the British Isles and England however. Ramist influence on logic also occurred in some degree. Much of the reason for the isolation of Ramism in some countries was due to the fact that Catholic countries would not allow the works of the protestant Ramus to be circulated (295-306).

Many of the historical developments that helped with the spread of Ramism actually preceded by many years. The creation of the alphabet that ushered in a new spatial orientation of mental thought was furthered by the invention of the printing press, which advanced beyond the effects of manuscript reliance of the Medieval period that had begun to reduce the role of oratory. The advancement of spatial, quantifying mental orientation and the development of diagrammatic logic prepared the way for print-ready cognitive developments and were in part popularized due to the changing necessities brought on by print technology. The Humanism that followed the Medieval Scholasticism was inextricably linked to print technology both in its use of it and more importantly in the parallels of their processes. Printing methods were very much like the intellectual methods being developed, practiced, and advanced by Agricola and Ramus. The effects of print technology also led to further depersonalization of rhetors/writers (306-314).

The development of spatial models came at the expense of Aristotelian predicates and classifications and led to the ubiquitous methods of quantification. The assimilation of categories into topoi (place, or loci) that resulted from topical logic also spread through Ramism. Lastly, the increased use of spatial charts and models furthered the transition from a world of sound to a world of sight.

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