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Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 1172001 Lectures$
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F.M.L. Thompson

Print publication date: 2003

Print ISBN-13: 9780197262795

Published to British Academy Scholarship Online: January 2013

DOI: 10.5871/bacad/9780197262795.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM BRITISH ACADEMY SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.britishacademy.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright British Academy, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in BASO for personal use.date: 27 October 2021

The Life of Learning

The Life of Learning


(p.201) The Life of Learning
Proceedings of the British Academy, Volume 117


British Academy

Four hundred years ago, scholars enjoyed much higher esteem than they do now. Rulers competed for their services and their work was assumed to be of crucial importance to everyone. This chapter reflects on the life of learning in early modern England to shed some light on the very different position of those who lead that life today. It asks what led these men to devote their energies to editing texts and investigating forgotten antiquities. But the main concern is their role in the society of their day. The chapter seeks to view them, as it were, ethnographically, to consider the relationship between their lives of learning and the larger world in which they lived, and to contrast it with the position of their modern counterparts. The focus is on scholars who were engaged in the recovery and interpretation of the past, and not on those who were concerned with mathematics, philosophy, or the nature of the physical world.

Keywords:   scholars, early modern England, learning, society

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